PLATTSBURGH — Public tobacco-free policies have proven successful in helping to reduce the number of people addicted to tobacco.
As the nation focuses on smoking cessation during the 37th-annual Great American Smokeout on Thursday, the Adirondack Tobacco-Free Network continues to offer its support in helping curb the addiction.
“Tobacco-free policies are contributing to the reduction of tobacco use,” said Christa VanCour, senior public-health educator for the Adirondack Tobacco-Free Network.
“ATFN initially began working with playgrounds and day-care centers as good targets for tobacco-free areas,” she added. “No one wants to see kids start smoking, so those seemed like logical starting points.”
With a foundation of tobacco-free, youth-oriented locations, the network then began working with regional businesses and municipalities to expand on public no-smoking areas.
“The more that tobacco-free policies are in existence, the more normal it will become not to use tobacco in those areas,” VanCour said.
Georgia-Pacific, PowerTec, area hospitals and Champlain Centre mall are among places that have adopted tobacco-free policies that have proven successful in helping employees and customers find a way to reduce their contact with tobacco, she said.
“We have really built this process strategically by starting in areas where tobacco-free policies seemed to make sense and then moving to where they would benefit more people,” said Karen Derushia, principal public-health educator for the Clinton County Health Department.
“It’s always done as a process,” she added. “ATFN never recommends going tobacco-free in one day. It takes certain steps to develop policies that can be communicated to employees, customers, students — anyone who will be affected by those policies.”
MUCH TO BE DONE
The Tobacco-Free Network has worked with government seats in Clinton, Franklin and Essex counties and is offering its support to the region’s universities and colleges, which may be considering tobacco-free policies.