Tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable premature death in the United States. The adult smoking rate in Pinellas County is 19.3% which is above the state rate which is 17.1%. The Tobacco Prevention and Control Program will provide technical support to help in the creation and implementation of tobacco free policies to reduce tobacco use, encourage youth to stay tobacco free and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.
The Florida Department of Health Bureau of Tobacco Free Florida funding is provided to create tobacco free environments in Pinellas County. The primary initiatives of the program are:
- Smoke Free Multi-Unit Housing – Secondhand smoke can seep through lighting fixtures, cracks in walls, around plumbing, under doors, through shared ventilation, as well as permeate building materials, and then enter into apartments or condominiums from neighboring units. There is no safe level of exposure to SHS according to the 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s report. SHS poses both a health risk and a significant nuisance. The Tobacco Prevention Program encourages property owners to implement voluntary smoke free policies and supplies resources and tools to help.
- Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Chapters – 80% of smoker begin before the legal age of 18. SWAT chapter members are middle and high school students who are organized to fight the influences of the tobacco industry by exposing how the tobacco industry targets youth as perspective new tobacco users. SWAT members educate students about the tobacco industry marketing and advertising tactics and train teens to fight them. They also work with local decision makers to create tobacco free policies to improve the health of our county.
- Comprehensive Employer Cessation Benefits – Comprehensive tobacco use treatment can reduce barriers for smokers who want to quit. Seven out of ten adult smokers report that they want to quit completely. Employers have the opportunity to improve their workforce health, increase productivity and reduce their health care costs by providing cessation support for tobacco users.
- Flavored Tobacco Products – The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act prohibited the sale of cigarettes which have a characterizing flavor other than tobacco or menthol. It does not restrict the sale of other cigars, smokeless tobacco products, shisha (used in hookah) or any other tobacco products. SWAT youth educate county and city government on flavored tobacco issues and encourage them to pass resolutions to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products.
- Tobacco Free Schools – Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Florida. Most tobacco use begins before the age of 18, so it is important that schools provide a safe and healthy learning environment free from exposure to known carcinogens, and one in which adults are role models for health behavior. As school district personnel and school visitors serve as role models to students, comprehensive school policies are a necessary strategy to prevent youth initiation as well as reduce tobacco use.
Through the teamwork of the Tobacco Free Coalition of Pinellas County, Students Working Against Tobacco and the Pinellas County Health Department Tobacco Prevention and Control Program these community initiatives are working to prevent youth from smoking, assist tobacco users who want to quit, and educate on the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Tobacco Free Coalition of Pinellas County
1st Monday of the month
4:00pm – 5:00pm
1st Floor Community Room
West Community Library
750 66th Street North, St. Petersburg