County organizations to receive ‘tobacco-free’ signs

Published 5:32 pm Monday, January 4, 2016

Beaufort County Health Department recently received about 15 tobacco-free-related signs to distribute to various locations throughout the county.

JaNell Lewis, human services planner and preparedness coordinator at the Beaufort County Health Department, said a state agency reached out to organizations involved with the Tobacco-Free Living Coalition, asking if they needed new or updated signs, which would be given at no cost to them. Among those who responded in Beaufort County are Beaufort County Community College and the parks and recreation department, as well as locations in Belhaven and Aurora.

Lewis said the signs read, “This is a smoke-free facility” or “This is a tobacco-free campus,” and some are written in Spanish.

The health department has yet to distribute the signs to the organizations due to the holidays, but she said they hope to do so in the next couple of weeks.

“It was really nice this time that it wasn’t a look for funding,” Lewis said of receiving the signs at no cost.

She said the health department is largely depending on maintenance crews from city and county agencies to install the signs, as the state “didn’t have a lot of people outside of larger agencies that said they were interested.”

Lewis said the signs are an important part of keeping a clean environment around an organization, as they inform visitors and can start a conversation about the rules of a property. The signs also signal an established protocol for properly disposing of cigarette butts.

Beaufort County Health Department wants to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco for not only smokers, but also those who may come in contact with secondhand smoke.

More than 7,000 chemicals have been identified in secondhand tobacco smoke, at least 250 of which are known to be harmful, and approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths occur each year among adult nonsmokers as a result of secondhand smoke, according to the National Cancer Institute.

“More so (the signs) hopefully would protect the people who might be in the area of people who are smoking,” she said. “It kind of is a gateway into saying, ‘Hey, we have these policies here.’”

She said tobacco-free policies are moving toward including the vapor of e-cigarettes, as well.

“It’s a just a cleaner environment for those who aren’t smoking,” Lewis said.