What would it take for Grey Bruce to become tobacco free …by 2016?
That is the target of efforts by the Grey Bruce Health Unit. In a presentation to Grey County Council, Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Hazel Lynn outlined a three-point approach of prevention, protection and cessation to cut the number of people who use tobacco and reduce health effects of tobacco. Tobacco-free outdoor spaces encompass all of these components.
Schools address prevention programs to reduce the numbers of new smokers.
Cessation efforts are underway in partnership with the hospitals in Grey Bruce to identify tobacco users and offer treatment while in hospital and follow-up upon discharge. The Health Unit works closely with the Smokers’ Helpline who provide cessation counselling and information on tobacco use.
Traditionally, protection has been about ensuring people are not exposed to second-hand smoke. Creating tobacco-free environments is a priority. More recently, efforts have shifted to changing the norms around tobacco use.
The tobacco-free outdoor spaces initiative has a child and youth focus. It will:
- Assist to prevent youth from starting to use tobacco products; children and youth model behaviour after the people they look up to.
- Give everyone a chance to perform at their best as tobacco use counters the positive health benefits gained by participating in sport and recreational activities.
- Protect the environment as cigarette butts are a main source of litter in communities and on beaches. It takes 15 years for a cigarette butt to degrade.
- Protect children from second-hand smoke. There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke, even outdoors.
- Support a tobacco free culture. It is important for youth to receive the same tobacco-free messages everywhere.
- Help people trying to quit. The temptation to use tobacco is reduced when people around you are not smoking.
A 2009 survey in Grey Bruce shows local residents support tobacco-free outdoor spaces: 86 % percent of adults support tobacco-free playgrounds; 83% support tobacco-free sports fields and spectator areas; 73% support tobacco-free beaches; and over 90% support tobacco-free patios and doorways to workplaces.