Local businesses in Santa Rosa County are going tobacco free

Press Gazette contributor
[Pixabay.com]

MILTON — Tobacco-free business, a growing trend throughout the state and country, is growing in Santa Rosa County. To date, 18 local businesses in the county have implemented tobacco-free policies, including:    

  • AppRiver
  • CVS Stores
  • City of Milton
  • Santa Rosa County School District
  • Family Dollar Stores
  • Lowe’s Stores
  • Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office
  • Santa Rosa County Jail
  • Blackwater River Correctional Facility
  • University of West Florida
  • GEO Corrections and Detention
  • Santa Rosa County Offices
  • Shane’s Rib Shack
  • Pruitt Health-Santa Rosa
  • Santa Rosa Kids’ House
  • Majors Home Improvement
  • Camp Fire Gulf Wind
  • Healthy Start Coalition-Santa Rosa 

Vince Nguyen is the health educator consultant with the Florida Department of Health in Santa Rosa County. "These eighteen local organizations have created safer and healthier working environments by going tobacco free," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease known as COPD. 

Smokers, on average, die about 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Smoking also increases the risk of complications during pregnancy, including pre-term delivery and low birth weight. Smoking during pregnancy results in more than 1,000 infant deaths annually, according to the CDC.

Smoking costs Florida about $19.6 billion a year due to lost productivity, premature death and healthcare expenditures. Tobacco-free policies can save employers an average of $6,000 a year per employee.  There are also numerous health benefits for businesses and staff as tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are toxic and at least 70 of which are known to cause cancer.¹ Exposure, even for short periods of time, can be dangerous² and smokers are prone to being absent from work 1.5 times more often than nonsmokers.

Exposure to second-hand smoke causes problems as well. Second-hand smoke is smoke from a burning cigarette and smoke breathed out by smokers. In addition to an increased risk of heart attack, adults exposed to second hand smoke are at risk for lung cancer and stroke. Children may experience ear infections and respiratory problems, as well as sudden infant death syndrome.

Smokers who quit greatly reduce their risk for adverse health effects.  Quitting can be hard but help is available through Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way programs:

Phone Quit – By calling 1-877-U-CAN-NOW (1-877-822-6669), smokers can talk to a Quit Coach who will help them assess their addiction and create a personalized quit plan.  The plan includes access to their Quit Coach 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week.

Group Quit – By calling 1-877-848-6696, smokers can locate a support group, led by a trained specialist, with meetings that are held at convenient times and locations in their area.

Web Quit – There are online resources that allow smokers to create their own personalized, web-based plan for becoming tobacco-free.  Smokers can track their progress and have access to blogs where they can share their personal stories.

There are more quitting tools. Receive a 2-week starter kit of free nicotine patches, if medically appropriate and 18 years of age or older, testing support, a quit guide, or helpful emails. Choose what’s needed or use them in addition to phone, group, and web services.

These options also include cessation aides such as nicotine patches or gum.  

To learn how your business can go smoke-free, contact Vince Nguyen, tobacco cessation specialist with DOH-Santa Rosa, at 564-2253.  To learn more about how smoking impacts businesses, visit http://tobaccofreeflorida.com/employercessation.