The use of tobacco products and exposure to second-hand smoke combined represent the number one cause of preventable deaths in the United States. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body, causing many diseases and affecting the health of smokers in general. Each year, approximately 443,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses. Annually, tobacco use is estimated to cost the United States $193 billion in direct medical expenses and lost productivity. Quitting smoking has immediate as well as long-term benefits for smokers and their loved ones. Community-level action is needed to effectively help tobacco users quit use of cigarettes and other tobacco products, prevent youth and others from starting to use tobacco products, and to help nonsmokers avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
Tobacco Free Living
The Tobacco Free Living action team (TFL) of the Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership is dedicated to improving tobacco related health outcomes in St. Mary’s County. Partners are now collaborating to implement evidence-based strategies that support local tobacco free living.
Next meeting: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. at the St. Mary’s County Health Department. Please note: All action team meetings scheduled for the month of September have been cancelled. Members are encouraged to attend the Annual Meeting in lieu of regularly scheduled team meetings.
Get involved – New members are always welcome to join the Tobacco Free Living action team! To be notified of upcoming events and meetings, please sign up for membership in the Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership and indicate “Tobacco Free Living” as your interest.
Example Objectives and Indicators
While numerous tobacco related issues are being addressed in the Healthy St. Mary’s 2020 Plan, two objectives with associated indicators are included here.
- The reduction of illness, disability, and death related to tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure is a guiding principle of the activities of TFL. A primary indicator of the success of the evidence-based strategies policies being implemented will be the reduction of tobacco use among St. Mary’s County adults (Figure 1).
- The majority of adult cigarette smokers initiated and established the habit during adolescence. According to the Surgeon General, “Nearly all first use of cigarettes occurs by 18 years of age (88%).” Reducing the percentage of adolescents who use tobacco is a major objective of the plan (Figure 2). Additionally, TFL and its partners are currently assessing the impact of “electronic cigarettes” on St. Mary’s County youth.
1. Maryland DHMH Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2. Maryland Youth Tobacco Survey