GASTONIA — On Friday, July 1, Gaston County Public Health leaders will gather at Poston Park to celebrate two years of the most comprehensive tobacco rule in the state of North Carolina.
Gaston County Public Health director Steve Eaton is slated to address the media at 10 a.m. to highlight the success of the tobacco rule.
Passed by the Gaston County Health and Human Services Board and the Board of Commissioners in 2020, and following similar action by the cities of Cherryville and Bessemer City, the tobacco rule prohibits the use of tobacco and tobacco products (including e-cigarettes and vape pens) in Gaston County facilities, including parks. It also bans their use for any indoor public places across the county.
“Everyone has the right to breathe clean air, free from secondhand smoke,” Eaton said. “In addition, studies have shown that laws that curb the availability of locations to use tobacco products can increase the likelihood of tobacco users deciding to quit.”
Since rolling out the new tobacco rule, the Gaston County Health Department has provided funding for municipalities to put up signage and update their current signage. The department has also created large signs for each municipality to use at their outdoor events throughout the year as a friendly reminder to the community not to use any form of tobacco in these public spaces.
The feedback from municipalities about the decrease in tobacco use at public events, in parks and around government buildings has been overwhelmingly positive and many have credited the signs as a major reason why.
“This is one of the most significant accomplishments we have achieved as a board,” DHHS Board Chairman Robert Browne said. “Any time we can take action that improves the lives of our residents, and then see its impact play out before us, it is extremely gratifying. We continue to encourage those who are addicted to nicotine and tobacco to make use of the resources available to them and begin the journey to quitting for good.”
Tobacco use is a 100% preventable risk factor for the four top non-COVID related causes of death in Gaston County: Stroke, cancer, heart disease and chronic lower respiratory disease.
For help quitting tobacco use, call toll free 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit QuitlineNC.com. More information about Gaston County’s tobacco rule is available at GastonGov.com/tobacco.