Sharon Biggers, director of Tobacco and Control, and Cathy Warner, division outreach coordinator, represent the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and will discuss efforts to encourage tobacco education, prevention and cessation.
Currently, 19 percent of S.C. adults age 18 and over are smokers (about 722,000). More than half of those who smoke (58 percent) reportedly tried to make a quit attempt in 2015.
DHEC’s Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control has been working to educate the state’s residents on the potentially harmful effects of smoking and other types of tobacco use, through the use of television and radio ads such as those with the CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign.
In fact, 83 percent of S.C. adults reported having seen one or more ads about not smoking, while 47 percent reported hearing them.
1. SC Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT-NOW): The Quitline provides tobacco treatment services for the state’s residents including telephone counseling and nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum, lozenges) for special groups such as pregnant women. Since its beginning in 2006, Quitline has served over 1,000,000 residents.
2. The Division is partnering with EHEC’s Cancer Division, MUSC-Hollings Cancer Center, the SC Tobacco Collaborative, and CVS Health on an effort to help newly diagnosed cancer patients improve treatment outcomes. The program, SC CAN QUIT, is being implemented in three cancer centers to help patients quit using tobacco during their treatment with support from their health provider and the SC Tobacco Quitline.
3. Baby and Me Tobacco Free: Helping pregnant tobacco users quit is a high priority for the Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control, because it has been shown to result in premature birth, low birth rate, and other serious effects for both mother and baby. S.C.’s smoking during pregnancy rate is higher than the national average.
Baby and Me Tobacco Free is being tested in Laurens, Union, Cherokee, and Oconee counties where rates of smoking during pregnancy are as high as 27 percent. Participants who sign up for the program receive four prenatal counseling sessions and referral to the SC Tobacco Quitline for additional assistance.
After the birth of the baby, participants are tested once monthly for tobacco use, and are provided diaper vouchers for up to 12 months post-partum if they stay tobacco free. Experience in other states implementing the Baby and Me Tobacco Free Program has shown up to a 72 percent success rate for quitting among program participants.
Youth tobacco use
Data collected by the Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control show a continued reduction in cigarette smoking among South Carolina high school students. The 2015 South Carolina Youth Tobacco Survey shows that between 2013 and 2015, cigarette use among high school students continued to fall below record levels, from 15.4 percent percent to 11.9 percent percent.
1. Tobacco Free School Districts: The Division continues its work across the state to increase the number of tobacco-free school districts and has gone from 36 in 2011 to 63 school districts. This means that 78 percent of the state’s public school districts have comprehensive tobacco-free policies protecting over 500,000 students, faculty and staff.
2. Youth Prevention campaign: Statewide programs to engage and educate youth about tobacco use are helpful in preventing them from starting. Later this fall, the Division will be launching “Backfire,” which will use a variety of media channels that appeal to youth and school programs to support becoming or staying tobacco free.
3. CEASE (Clinical Effort Against Secondhand Smoke Exposure): Pediatricians have a unique opportunity to address tobacco use among their patients and their families. The Division is working to bring CEASE to South Carolina to help them effectively engage patients and families to prevent tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke and support quitting.
Secondhand smoke efforts
Residents living in multi-unit housing facilities, such as apartments or condominiums, are at higher risk for exposure to secondhand smoke in their homes. The Division works with managers and resident groups in facilities to assist them in enacting smoke-free regulations for living and common areas.
Additionally, federal HUD is adopting smoke-free policies for all of its properties for which they will receive Division assistance.
The Division supports state cabinet agencies in their efforts to adopt and implement a Tobacco Free Campus policy under the A Healthier State Initiative.
As a result, DHEC’s buildings and campuses are all now tobacco free, in addition to five other state agencies, including Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and Department of Employment and Workforce.
A study finds increased use of electric cigarettes and show need for DA regulation. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn nicotine and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.
Most e-cigarettes are manufactured to look conventional cigarettes, cigars, or pipes. Some resemble everyday items such as pens and USB memory sticks. Consumers have no way of knowing whether e-cigarettes are safe for their intended use.
Margaret Brackett is from Newberry. Her columns appear weekly in The Newberry Observer.