Tag Archives: cigarettes

DHEC in the News: Secondhand smoke in children, liver cancer, foodborne illness

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Dangers of secondhand smoke in children

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful to your health. It causes cancer, emphysema, heart attacks and strokes.

In short, it is deadly. Yet, people still smoke.

Many smokers believe it calms their nerves and reduces their appetite. However, this article is not about convincing people to stop smoking. As adults, you already know that you should stop and why. This column is about the dangers of smoking around children and what you can do about it.

Liver cancer deaths soar in South Carolina, across the US

Deaths from liver cancer are up a staggering 43 percent overall nationwide, and South Carolina’s rate is higher than the national average, federal health officials say.

While a number of factors could be to blame, including alcohol and tobacco use, experts point to rising rates of hepatitis C, or HCV, as the main culprit.

General Interest
Foodborne illness may be on the rise. Here’s why

(CNN) One child drank apple cider at a Connecticut farm, another a glass of juice during a road trip in Oregon; later, both were rushed to emergency rooms as they struggled for their lives. A middle-aged woman became sick more than a decade ago after enjoying a salad at a banquet hosted by a California hotel; her debilitating symptoms continue to this day.

A 17-year-old paid the ultimate price when he ate two hamburgers “with everything, to go” and died days later.

These are the stories behind the faces on the “Honor Wall” of Stop Foodborne Illness, the national nonprofit that represents and supports those who suffered a drastic consequence following the most ordinary act: eating.

DHEC in the News: Free sunscreen, obesity, smoke-free college campuses

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Free sunscreen now available in dispensers at Riverdogs stadium

Forgot your sunscreen? There may soon be dispensers of the stuff on the path to the beach and in the area’s parks.

There are already 10 of the sunscreen receptacles at the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park stadium, installed last Sunday. The SPF 30 sunscreen is free at the dispensers.

The initiative is intended to help bring down cases of melanoma. More cases of the skin cancer have been diagnosed every year in South Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

 General Interest

CDC Says Obesity Higher in Rural Versus Urban Counties

On June 15, the CDC released a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)(www.cdc.gov) that found the prevalence of obesity was higher, at 34.2 percent, among U.S. adults living in nonmetropolitan counties than the 28.7 percent prevalence among those living in metropolitan counties.

This research was based on state-level data from the 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual random-digit-dialed telephone survey of adults 18 and older. The CDC and state and territorial health departments conduct the BRFSS to monitor health conditions and related behaviors.

CDC: College Campuses Increasingly Go Smoke-Free

Twice as many colleges and universities in the U.S. had smoke-free or tobacco-free policies in 2017 than in 2012, according to the CDC and American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation (ANRF).

The vast majority of the 2,082 colleges and universities with anti-smoking policies as of November 2017 were tobacco free, meaning they had banned not only conventional cigarette smoking, but all other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes and hookah use.

Know the ABCS of Good Diabetes Control

Taking care of your diabetes and the conditions that come with it can help you lower your chances of heart and blood vessel disease. Every step you take to keep your ABCS (A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol) in your target range and quitting smoking, will help lower your risk of heart disease or a stroke.

  • A is for A1C. The A1C test gives you a picture of your average blood glucose (blood sugar) control for the past two to three months but is different from the blood sugar checks you do each day. The results give you a good idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working. Having too high levels of blood sugar over time can harm your heart, blood vessels, kidneys, feet, and eyes. Ask your health care provider what your goal should be.
  • B is for blood pressure. High blood pressure makes your heart work harder than it should and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.  High blood pressure, often called the silent killer, won’t go away without treatment. That could include lifestyle changes and, if your doctor deems necessary, medicine. Ask your health care provider what your blood pressure goal should be.
  • C is for cholesterol. Your cholesterol numbers tell you about the amount of fat in your blood. Some kinds, like HDL cholesterol, help protect your heart. Others, like LDL cholesterol, can clog your arteries. High triglycerides raise your risk for a heart attack or a stroke. Ask your health care provider what your cholesterol numbers should be.
  •  S is for stop smoking. Not smoking is especially important for people with diabetes because both smoking and diabetes narrow blood vessels. Blood vessel narrowing makes your heart work harder. E-cigarettes aren’t a safe option either. If you are having trouble quitting, the Quitline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free for any SC resident. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

To learn more about your risk for diabetes, click here to take an online risk assessment.  For more information on how to prevent or manage diabetes in SC, please email ndpp@dhec.sc.gov or call 803-898-1934 to speak with someone in DHEC’s Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Health Division.

 Additional Resources to Help You Prevent and Manage Diabetes

Cigarette Litter Reduction Pilot Study: Folly Beach

Is it possible to reduce cigarette litter along a stretch of beach by educating people about the perils of tossing butts on the ground and enhancing options for disposing of the waste?

That’s the question DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) tackled over the past year through a pilot project conducted along a short stretch of a South Carolina beach.

Monitoring cigarette litter at Folly Beach

The project began in 2015, when OCRM received a grant from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct a cigarette litter reduction pilot study on Folly Beach in Charleston County. The pilot strategy involved targeted education and enhancement of cigarette litter disposal options. Additionally, OCRM monitored cigarette litter on the beach both before and after the project began in order to estimate its impact.cigarettelitterfacts

In late 2015, the team began designing educational materials, including flyers and foldable beach ashtrays, to increase public awareness and encourage proper disposal of cigarette litter. These materials were distributed at businesses on Folly Beach from June through September 2016.

In January 2016, new cigarette receptacles were installed at 15 walkovers on Folly. Previously installed receptacles were often used for disposal of non-smoking-related litter, which resulted in the receptacles becoming clogged. The new receptacles, made of sturdy PVC material, included an opening just wide enough to fit a cigarette butt.

The results: A reduction in cigarette litter

Monitoring events were conducted in September 2015 before implementing the project strategy, and in September 2016 after implementation.

buttsinabucket

While there are a number of factors that influence the number of cigarette butts encountered on the beach on any given day, including tidal and weather conditions,  a comparison of the 2015 and 2016 post-Labor Day monitoring results shows that approximately 200 fewer cigarettes per person-hour were collected in 2016 than in 2015. In total, nearly 10,000 cigarette butts were removed from the 0.25-mile monitoring area over the course of this study. For more information on this pilot study, visit the project webpage.

Lung Cancer Awareness

By Sonya Younger, MBA, DHEC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control 

lung-cancer-awareness-iStock_000026267516_Large

In the United States, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, even though an extensive list of modifiable risk factors has long been identified. Approximately 4,040 South Carolinians will be diagnosed with lung cancer and an estimated 2,970 will die from the disease in 2015.  While smoking is, by far, the leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, it is a disease that can affect anyone, so it is important for everyone to know the risks and look out for your health.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Tobacco use is the number one cause of lung cancer in the United States, causing 90 percent of all lung cancer, and it is completely preventable. No matter what your age or how long you have smoked, quitting now will make a difference in your health that you can feel. If you or someone you know would like to quit smoking, call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). For services in Spanish, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569).

Although lung cancer’s predominant cause is tobacco smoking, there are other causes as well. Radon, for example, is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers in the U.S. Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas that occurs naturally in the environment and can seep into homes and buildings. To avoid exposure, it is a great idea to test your home for radon. Click here to order a free radon testing kit from DHEC.

The quality of the air you breathe can make a difference in your risk of lung cancer, so it is important to be mindful about the environment where you live and work and avoid exposure to carcinogen pollutants. Substances such as arsenic, asbestos, chromates, nickel, and other air-borne agents have been known to contribute to lung cancer. Outdoor air pollution, including smog and CO2 emissions from vehicles, is also a factor that can affect your lung health and contribute to lung cancer risk.

Guidelines for Screening

According to the American Cancer Society, patients who meet all of the following criteria may be candidates for lung cancer screening:

  • 55 to 74 years old
  • In fairly good health
  • Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history
  • Are either still smoking or have quit smoking within the last 15 years

Patients should talk with their doctors about the benefits, limitations, and potential harms of lung cancer screening.

For more information about lung cancer, please visit the American Cancer Society’s website.