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RBC — During the month of February, people across the nation are raising awareness about heart disease and taking steps to lower their risk. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Two of the ways to reduce the risk of heart disease are to stop smoking and eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.
According to studies, long-term exposure to secondhand smoke is associated with a 25 percent to 30 percent increased risk of heart disease in adult nonsmokers. The Pueblo Heart Study Phase II, published in the Jan. 2, 2009, issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report”, revealed that heart attack hospitalizations in the city of Pueblo, Colo., fell dramatically and sustained for three years after implementation of a comprehensive smoke-free workplace and public place ordinance. This latest study reinforces that smoke-free policies are vital in preventing heart disease mortality and morbidity.
The U.S. surgeon general has found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year and that there is no safe level of exposure. Colorado implemented the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act (CCIA), its statewide smoke-free law, on July 1, 2006, and extended it to casinos on July 1, 2008. Research shows that smoke-free laws and policies to eliminate smoking indoors are credited with decreases of exposure. Before and after public places including restaurants, bars and casinos went smoke free, the State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment conducted studies that measured air pollution in these venues. After the smoke-free law was implemented, the air improved by 90 percent in restaurants and bars and by 92 percent in casinos — an Environmental Protection Agency rating of “good.” Additionally, studies indicate that these smoke-free laws can prompt people who smoke to quit.
“An important first step for people who want to quit smoking is to make a smoke-free home rule, says Tamara Murray, Rio Blanco County tobacco coordinator. “Studies show that people are about two times more likely to quit if they make a smoke-free home rule. They are also up to fives times more successful in their attempt to quit if their home is smoke-free.”
In the American Lung Association’s recent report card for states, Colorado was issued a grade of “A” for Smokefree Air. Though Colorado’s smoke-free law covers most indoor public places, strengthening specific areas and enforcing compliance with the law can protect more Coloradoans from exposure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children ages 4-11 have the highest rate of exposure at more than 60 percent. The primary source of secondhand smoke exposure to children is in the home. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more susceptible to ear infections and coughs, bronchitis and pneumonia, childhood asthma; and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Youth ages 12-19 have the next highest rate of exposure at more than 55 percent. “Parents who enforce no-smoking rules at home are less likely to have teens who experiment with cigarettes, according to a study reported in the “American Journal of Public Health.” The researchers also noted that youth who lived with nonsmokers but did not have a household smoking ban were nearly twice as likely to begin experimenting with cigarettes, compared to teens whose parents banned smoking. Other studies have also demonstrated that teenagers who do start to smoke, smoke less if their home is smoke-free.”
Those who want to quit smoking or those who are thinking about quitting can seek help and support from the Colorado QuitLine — a free telephone coaching service for quitting tobacco that offers a free supply of the patch. To contact the QuitLine, call 1.800.QUIT.NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.coquitline.org for Web-based cessation tools. The Colorado QuitLine is operated by National Jewish Health under contract to the State Tobacco Education & Prevention Partnership at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. QuitLine coaches are available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.