Monthly Archives: May 2016

World No Tobacco Day: A good time to call it quits

By Catherine Warner, MSW
Outreach Coordinator
Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control

Each year on May 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) observes World No Tobacco Day.  The campaign encourages a 24-hour period of abstinence from all tobacco products worldwide.  If you use tobacco and haven’t been able to quit yet, today is the perfect day to try again and take part in the global effort to end the tobacco epidemic. You can call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline for free help.

Participating countries across the globe are working toward implementing policies that reduce the use and harm of tobacco products.  Problems vary by country, as does the type of tobacco product used.

Efforts to fight the global epidemic of tobacco include the work we do here at home. In South Carolina, we have a 31 percent quit rate among former smokers, which means that 14,655 tobacco users in South Carolina have quit successfully; this translates into savings of $41.3 million in tobacco-related direct health care costs.  The DHEC-managed S.C. Tobacco Quitline has served more than 100,000 people to date, with 95 percent of callers requesting help in quitting smoking.  Sixty-two out of 81 school districts in South Carolina have adopted 100 percent comprehensive tobacco-free policies.  And most recently, DHEC became tobacco-free at all sites statewide on March 1, 2016, through the A Healthier State tobacco-free campus initiative.

Public Health workers at the Department of Health and Environmental Control spend a lot of time educating people about tobacco use.

We go into communities and work with partners—telling them what we know about tobacco.  We know that smoking-related cancers have claimed the lives of nearly 60,000 South Carolinians since 2005.  We tell people that smokeless tobacco is directly linked to several cancers, including mouth, tongue and pancreatic cancer.  We tell people that exposure to secondhand smoke doubles the risk of heart attack among non-smokers.  We provide people with resources to quit and protect children and other vulnerable populations from tobacco and secondhand smoke.

What we often neglect to tell people is how this fits into the global picture.  Tobacco use has shifted to the developing world, causing more death and disease in countries where access to health care, cessation resources and tobacco regulation are lacking.  Nearly two-thirds of the world’s smokers live in 10 countries:  (in order from most smokers to least) China, India, Indonesia, Russian Federation, United States, Japan, Brazil, Bangladesh, Germany and Turkey.

be a quitterToday, tobacco use causes 1 in 10 deaths among adults worldwide, which is more than 5 million people a year.  Unless things change, tobacco’s annual death toll will rise to more than 8 million people by the year 2030.

The WHO projects that more than 80 percent of the world’s tobacco-related deaths will be in low- and middle-income countries by 2030.  Something to consider this World No Tobacco Day is that tobacco use increases poverty—money spent on tobacco means less money spent on necessities such as food, shelter, education and health care.  The poorest 20 percent of households in Mexico spend nearly 11 percent of their household income on tobacco.  Medical costs from smoking impoverish more than 50 million people in China.

With all the progress we have made in South Carolina and with nationwide tobacco control efforts, it is easy to forget how tobacco affects people worldwide.  We are fortunate to have information and resources to help people quit, and we can all help create a healthier tomorrow by quitting tobacco use today.

For more information and free resources to help you or someone you know quit tobacco, visit

Have a Happy and Healthy Memorial Day!

By Bryony Wardell

Ahhhh, Memorial Day weekend. It’s a time to remember those who have served and sacrificed. It’s also a celebration that school is out, summer is here and it’s time to ring in a season of sunshine and outdoor activities.

So, pack up the cooler, fire up the grill and follow these easy tips to help you have a fun and healthy good time.

Keep out biting party crashers
Protect yourself from mosquito and tick bites that can carry diseases. If you’re spending time outside, wear EPA-recommended repellent or wear protective long-sleeved clothing. You can also reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by getting rid of standing water and debris where they like to breed. (CR-011739).jpg

Beat the heat
If you’re spending a day outside, find shade during the heat of the day, wear broad spectrum sunscreen and don’t forget your hat and shades to keep you looking cool and protect yourself from skin damage. Follow sunscreen directions and reapply as needed, especially if you are getting in the water.

skin cancer prevention-guidelines-handout crop

Speaking of water, staying hydrated helps you feel your best, so drink plenty of H2O throughout the day. If you are doing an outdoor activity, drink two to four glasses or at least 16 ounces of cool fluids every hour.

Separate and refrigerate
Sharing good food with good friends is part of the fun – don’t let food-borne illnesses spoil it.

If you’re heading for a picnic or event, prepare as much food as you can at home, where you have access to good refrigeration. Keep raw meats and eggs separated from prepared foods and fresh produce, and bring extra utensils and grilling tongs.  When transporting food or storing it, either keep your hot food hot (130° F or above) or keep it really cool (40° F or below) along with your cold dishes like coleslaw and potato salad. Get more food safety tips here.

Sport your life jacketboating-safety-iStock_000056914182_XXXLarge (1)The name says it all. Life jackets can save your life and should always be worn by every member of your family when your on the water. Life jackets come in all styles and sizes – they even make them for your four-legged best friends. Find the right one for you. 

Have a happy and healthy Memorial Day!






Upstate Nurse Saves Baby’s Life During Home Visit

By Warren Bolton

AGordonThe routine can quickly turn into an unexpected emergency.

Ann Gordon, a newborn home visit nurse, knows all too well.

Recently, Ann was visiting a home in Cherokee County to check on the health and well-being of a mother and her infant. It’s the kind of stop Ann has made many times over the years. Working part-time these days, she still visits three or four homes a day at least twice a week.

During this particular visit, Ann was talking with the family when she noticed the mother had a strange look on her face as she held her baby.

“Mom was standing there and she was just looking funny. I said, ‘What’s wrong?'”

Ann took the baby and, after a brief check, determined the child was not breathing and didn’t have a heartbeat.

The routine visit immediately became a life-saving effort.

Ann quickly began administering CPR and told the mother to call 911. With the baby on her lap, Ann worked urgently to revive the child. “I just kept doing CPR,” she said.

Firefighters soon arrived and one of them began to assist Ann.

“Finally the baby started breathing on its own,” she said.

At that moment, EMS personnel arrived. The infant was transported by helicopter to Greenville Memorial Hospital. The child’s heart stopped two more times.

Ann said she would later learn from the mom that the child, who was premature by eight weeks, was diagnosed as having had a stroke and seizures. The infant was hospitalized for two weeks, but is now at home.

“That was the scariest day of my life, and I’ve been at the health department for 44 years,” Ann said.

It also was a heroic day. Thank you, Ann. Your quick actions saved a child’s life.

McBride Wins S.C. Palmetto Gold Nurse Recognition Award

By Jim Beasley

Congratulations to Catherine (Kate) McBride, RN, MSN, on her selection for the prestigious S.C. Palmetto Gold Nurse Recognition award. She was one of 100 nurses recognized last month at the 15th Palmetto Gold Nurse Recognition and Scholarship Program.

“I am honored to be in the same company as the 114 DHEC public health nurses who were recognized before me with the Palmetto Gold award since this award’s inception 15 years ago,” said McBride. “I enjoy public health nursing because we not only impact the individual patient, but we also seek to positively impact the health of the community as well as the overall healthcare system.”

The South Carolina Nurses Foundation sponsors Palmetto Gold to recognize Registered Nurses in all practice settings in South Carolina who exemplify excellence in nursing practice and commitment to the nursing profession.

McBride, who currently serves as program director for the Pee Dee Public Health Region, began her work as a public health nurse in 2007. During her tenure as program director, nurses within the region have gained independence and increased accountability for individual clinical practice. The Nurse Family Partnership and the Children with Special Healthcare Needs programs have been recognized internally and externally for achieving high service standards.

McBride’s leadership has moved the region forward in quality nursing practice and client-centered customer service.

“I also recognize that this award for me is as much a reflection of the front line nurses working in the Pee Dee Public Health Region,” McBride added. “It is the work they do each day in our clinics and out in the community that truly shines.”

Champions of the Environment: Deerfield Recycling Initiative

Guest Post by Ms. Brooke Scott, Deerfield Elementary School

Environmental education has always been a passion of mine. I fully believe in environmental project based education, which helps students learn to care about the planet, about their community, and about each other.  I work to build students’ sense of environmental self-efficacy, empowering them to improve the planet and to encourage others to do likewise. I want our students to feel they are leaders who are making great things happen. They are the change agents of the future.

Over the past two years, Deerfield Elementary in Lexington, South Carolina has created a strong recycling program. This year we directed our focus on ways we can partner with the community to make an even stronger and lasting impact on the environment and strengthen our recycling and conservation programs.

We expanded the amount of items we recycle and developed a more efficient recycling system by utilizing the recycling organizers we purchased through the Champions of the Environment grant from S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.  We created a “Planet Heroes Conservation Team” that is responsible for all of our recycling and conservation efforts throughout the school. The team is composed of two students from each classroom and the team rotates in new students every nine weeks. By year’s end almost 200 students will have served as a Planet Hero and learned about the importance of conservation and recycling.

We share our progress and our recycling efforts through “thermometers” placed in the hallways and through QR codes placed near our recycling organizers. Many relationships have been formed and ideas have been shared through our recycling efforts and events. We have impacted possibly thousands of people through social media, school-wide events, infographics, and presentations. We have worked diligently to share the story about our recycling success to hopefully motivate and inspire others. Seeing the students’ leadership shine through these opportunities is truly the best part of the project!

Challenges present themselves at various times. One challenge we face is getting the recycling to yard container in the back of the school. We are still working through this process, especially since it presents a safety risk for students dumping materials from a loading dock and requires constant supervision.

Teaching students, parents, businesses and community members about the importance of reducing landfills, saving natural resources, eliminating pollution, recycling and reducing greenhouse gas can have positive impacts on the environment for many years to come.

My advice for teachers wanting to start an environmental education project is always have your students in mind when planning anything. What do you want them to know and be able to do at the end of the project? How can you help them become leaders and teach others? Find opportunities to let your students shine! All learning should be authentic and relevant to students. Get the community involved and utilize resources around you. Don’t be afraid to ask experts to come talk to your students, plan a skype session, or have your students interview them! So many people are willing to help!

This post is part of a series of posts on environmental education submitted by DHEC’s Champions of the Environment 2016 winners.

About Champions of the Environment
Champions of the Environment provides resources and support to foster environmental education and action in South Carolina’s kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. The program is sponsored by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, International Paper and SCE&G, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina. For more information, visit