Why did the DHHS Board implement a Tobacco-Free Rule?
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure are leading preventable causes of illness and premature death in North Carolina and in the nation.
- Everyone has the right to breathe clean air.
- Laws or policies that restrict where you can smoke or use tobacco products help people who are thinking of quitting to quit, protect others from exposure to secondhand smoke, and provide tobacco-free role modeling to youth in the community.
Dangers of Secondhand Smoke and Secondhand Aerosol:
- Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer.
- According to the United States Surgeon General there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Also, secondhand smoke has been proven to cause cancer, heart disease, and asthma attacks I both smokers and nonsmokers.
- The U.S. Surgeon General issued a report on e-cigarettes and young people stating that emitted e-cigarette aerosol is not just water vapor, but contains nicotine and can contain additional toxins, making it less safe than clean air and e-cigarette use has the potential to involuntarily expose children and adolescents, pregnant women, and non-users to aerosolized nicotine and, if the products are altered, to other psychoactive substances. Therefore, clean air, being free of both smoke and e-cigarette aerosol, remains the standard to protect health
Why does the Gaston County Tobacco Rule include government grounds and parks in the rule?
Health risks of secondhand smoke outdoors:
- It has been shown that during smoking, outdoor levels of secondhand smoke may be as high as indoor levels and may pose a health risk for people nearby (if you can smell it, you are being exposed).
- According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s report in 2006, “Breathing even a little secondhand smoke can be harmful.”
- Not only are we concerned about secondhand smoke, we are concerned for our youth. Having tobacco-free grounds and parks helps set a positive norm for our youth. 90% of adults started using tobacco before the age of 18. Therefore, in order to reduce the use of tobacco in our community, we should influence kids not to start.
A Cleaner Environment:
- Cigarette butts are the most commonly littered item in America.
- Outdoor smoke-free policies have been shown to decrease litter making the clean-up at outdoor areas less cumbersome.
Why is the DHHS Board addressing smoking and tobacco use?
- The DHHS Board desires to reduce the harmful effects of smoking as well as eliminate the exposure to secondhand smoke for its citizens and any visitors.
- Policies or ordinances that prohibit where you can use tobacco products help those who are thinking of quitting to successfully quit the use of tobacco products.
- Tobacco-free or smoke-free policies help to protect others from the exposure to secondhand smoke as well as provide tobacco-free role modeling for our youth.
- If you or someone you know is thinking about quitting, there is support. Smokers can talk to their healthcare providers about quitting and review the cessation options that are available through their health insurance. They can also take advantage of the free quitting support service, QuitlineNC at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or go to www.QuitlineNC.com.
How can you tell people that they aren't allowed to do a legal behavior?
- We are not saying that people who are over 18 cannot smoke or use tobacco products. We are simply saying that they cannot do it in government buildings, grounds or parks as well as indoor public places (an enclosed area to which the public is invited or permitted).
- Many laws and ordinances restrict behavior that was formerly legal: smoke-free bars and restaurants, seat belt laws, impaired driving laws. All of these have been proven to greatly and effectively protect public health.
I didn't think e-cigarettes/vaping devices had tobacco in them, why are they included?
- Electronic cigarettes, vaping devices, and most e-hookahs contain cartridges with liquid nicotine. Nicotine is derived from real tobacco, because of this, the state of North Carolina considers e-cigs a tobacco product.
- E-cigarettes, vaping devices, e-hookahs or any electronic oral device that employs a mechanical heating element is included in this ordinance.
Why does it matter that I smoke outside or use smokeless tobacco products?
- This is not just about exposure to secondhand smoke (which can occur outside if close enough to the smoke – if you smell it, you are being exposed), it is about role modeling a tobacco-free norm to our youth. 90% of adults started using tobacco before age 18. To reduce tobacco’s toll on our community, we must influence kids not to start. When they experiment, they can become addicted to nicotine, setting them up for potentially serious health problems and other substance use disorders.
How will this rule be enforced?
- The best way to enhance enforcement is to inform the public of the new policy by providing adequate signage, public education and communication. Over time, it will become the norm for people to not smoke or use tobacco products in these particular places.
- Can I smoke in my car? Not if you are on any government grounds or parks. You must go off of the property.
- Is there a penalty? For the public who fail to cease using tobacco products can be punished by a fine of no more than $50.00. A citation may be issued by a sworn law enforcement officer (no court costs may be assessed). For business owners of public places who fail to comply after two written warning violations from a local health director may have imposed upon them an administrative penalty of not more than two hundred dollars ($200). Each day on which a violation occurs may be considered a separate and distinct violation.