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Announcing North Carolina's New Leader in Tobacco Prevention...Gaston County!!

Rule to Prohibit the Use of Tobacco and Tobacco Products on Gaston County Government Grounds, Buildings, Parks and Vehicles and Indoor Public Places

Gastonia, NC - Last night, Gaston County Commissioners voted to confirm the Gaston County Health & Human Services Board’s (HHS Board) Tobacco Rule prohibiting the use of tobacco and tobacco products on Gaston County government grounds, buildings, parks and vehicles and indoor public places. This rule is now the most comprehensive county-wide tobacco policy in North Carolina. Tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, snuff, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes. The HHS Board had previously voted unanimously in favor of the Rule during their April 4th meeting. Here is more on why the Gaston County Board of Health & Human Services decided to address tobacco policy in our county:

The Rule will go into effect on July 1, 2020. More information about the rule can be found at full text of the rule, a summary, and Q & A)

 Why is this rule so important in Gaston County?

Tobacco use is a 100% preventable risk factor for the top four of the top five leading causes of death in Gaston County (stroke, cancer, heart disease, and chronic lower respiratory disease).

 This tobacco rule protects Gaston County citizens from harmful exposure to secondhand smoke and e-cigarette aerosol:

  • Research indicates that, during active smoking, outdoor levels of secondhand smoke may be as high as indoor levels and may pose a health risk (triggering asthma attacks and heart attacks) for people in close proximity, and some hazard exists beyond 30 feet.
  • In 2006, the Surgeon General concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke. Establishing smoke-free environments is the only proven way to prevent exposure, and tobacco free rules and ordinances are an evidence-based method of creating smoke-free environments.
  • In 2016, 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. Clean air, being free of both smoke and e-cigarette aerosol, remains the standard to protect health.

Youth Impact:

  • Children model adult behavior and benefit from positive models of non-tobacco use behavior and positive reinforcement of healthy lifestyle messages through exposure to  tobacco-free public areas; and
  •  Experimentation with and use of e-cigarettes have risen sharply among young people according to the 2017 N.C. Youth Tobacco Survey: current use of electronic cigarettes among North Carolina high school students jumped by 894 percent from 1.7 percent in 2011 to 16.9 percent in 2017. A total of 28.3 percent of high school students said they are considering using electronic cigarettes in the next year. Overall tobacco use among NC high school students increased from 25.8 percent to 28.8 percent from 2011 to 2017; and
  • In 2018, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an Advisory on the U.S. e-cigarette epidemic among youth, expressing concern that e-cigarettes are addicting youth and that exposure to nicotine can damage the developing brains of young people up to age 25.

 “As County Commissioners, we aspire to do everything within our power to assure the health and wellbeing of our citizens,” shared Board of Commissioners Chairman Tracy Philbeck. “I think it speaks volumes that this policy was passed unanimously by the Board and we are thrilled with the support from our Board of Health & Human Services, local municipalities, and community citizens – especially local youth – who helped us bring this important piece of legislation to our county.”

 “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with our Board of Health & Human Services and DHHS staff to bring this policy to the table,” shared Gaston County Commissioner Chad Brown. “I’m excited about what this ordinance will mean to Gaston County’s future generations.”

 “I believe that this county-wide tobacco rule should be put into effect because it is important to protect those who are being exposed to secondhand smoke,” shared Priyanka Patel, a Highland School of Technology student. “This rule allows citizens to breathe clean air in a safe environment. This rule also applies to e-cigarettes, which is a significant aspect because of the recent rise in e-cigarette use, especially within the youth.”

 “On behalf of the Board of Health & Human Services, I could not be more pleased to see such a forward-thinking health policy passed unanimously in our county,” said Robert Browne, Chair of the Gaston County Board of Health & Human Services. “It is the obligation of the Board to protect the health of our citizens, both the young and old, and this Rule will do just that – now and for generations to come.”