There’s No Risk-Free Level of Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

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Tobacco Free Florida Week Raises Awareness about the Critical Need for “Fresh Air for All”

One of the most crucial ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of SHS is to maintain a 100 percent smoke-free home,” said Dr. Steven L. Harris, Florida’s Interim State Surgeon General

Each year, Tobacco Free Florida Week is an opportunity to educate and empower Floridians about relevant issues related to tobacco use in the state. This year’s focal point, secondhand smoke (SHS), is one of the issues that affects every single Floridian.

The fourth annual Tobacco Free Florida Week runs from March 26 through April 1. Themed “Fresh Air for All,” the week’s events and messaging highlight the progress made in protecting Floridians from the harmful effects of SHS and look to the challenges ahead, as SHS continues to impact Florida’s health.

Despite the substantial decrease in smokers in the state and the growing trend of smoke-free policies -- both indoors and out -- many of Florida’s most vulnerable are still involuntarily affected by SHS’s harmful chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and almost 70 are proven to cause cancer. Each year, approximately 2,520 non-smoking adults in Florida die primarily from exposure to SHS.

The health of Florida’s children, our most vulnerable citizens, should also be a top priority. Children are exposed to SHS more than adults and the consequences are alarming. Exposure to SHS increases a child’s risk of respiratory infections and common ear infections. Children with asthma who are exposed to SHS are likely to experience more frequent and more severe attacks, which can put their lives in danger.

“We are committed to protecting Floridians, especially children who sometimes do not have a voice. One of the most crucial ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of SHS is to maintain a 100 percent smoke-free home,” said Dr. Steven L. Harris, Florida’s Interim State Surgeon General. “While a home should always be a safe place for children, the fact is that the primary place young children breathe SHS is in their own homes.

Outside of the home, Florida residents benefit from Florida’s Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA), which was amended in 2003 to protect people from exposure to SHS and prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces. While the FCIAA protects many, countless Floridians are involuntarily exposed to the dangers of SHS in the nightlife industry, construction and other blue-collar industries while making a living and providing for their families.

The bottom line is that there is no risk-free level of exposure to SHS. Even breathing SHS for short periods of time, like at a bar or a nightclub, can be dangerous. When you breathe SHS, tobacco smoke immediately seeps into the bloodstream and changes its chemistry so that the blood becomes stickier, allowing clots to form that can cause major blockages in already narrowed arteries. Damage to the heart can be significant, if not deadly.

In addition to impacting heart health, exposure to SHS can increase the risk of many respiratory diseases, including emphysema, bronchitis, chronic airway obstruction and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Exposure to SHS also significantly increases the risk of lung cancer, Florida’s number-one cancer killer.

While comprehensive smoke-free air laws are crucial to protecting Floridians from the dangers of SHS, it is also important to take the right steps to quit smoking or to help someone quit.

Tobacco Free Florida offers a number of free and convenient resources to help Floridians quit tobacco.

  •     CALL: Call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach who will help you assess your addiction and help you create a personalized quit plan.
  •     CLICK: Enroll in the Web Coach®, which will help you create your own web-based quit plan that’s right for you, visit https://www.quitnow.net/florida.
  •     COME IN: Visit the Florida Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network’s website, http://ahectobacco.com, to locate your local AHEC and sign up for Quit Smoking Now group classes.

For more information, visit http://www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/TFFWeek.

ABOUT TOBACCO FREE FLORIDA WEEK 2012
The fourth annual Tobacco Free Florida Week takes place from March 26 to April 1. Visit http://www.tobaccofreeflorida.com/TFFWeek for more information and join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #TFFWeek.

ABOUT TOBACCO FREE FLORIDA
Tobacco Free Florida is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund. Tobacco Free Florida is managed by the Florida Department of Health, specifically the Bureau of Tobacco Prevention Program.

Smokers and smokeless tobacco users interested in quitting are encouraged to call the Florida Quitline at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW to speak with a Quit Coach. To learn about Tobacco Free Florida and the state’s free quit smoking resources, visit http://www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TobaccoFreeFlorida or Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tobaccofreefla.

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Naylet Aguayo
GolinHarris Agency
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