"This year's World No Tobacco Day has special significance for Michigan because the state's Ron Davis Clean Indoor Air law went into effect exactly one month ago," said Erika Van Dam, Family & Community Health Services Supervisor for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. The law bans smoking in most public places, including restaurants and bars.
Van Dam said she has fielded a lot of calls over the past month, mostly from restaurant and bar managers who wanted to make sure they were complying with the law. Since the smoking ban went into effect on May 1, the Health Department has received just two complaints.
According to Michigan Department of Community Health, many smokers are taking advantage of the new law to quit smoking. About 20% more calls are coming into the Michigan Tobacco Quit Line from smokers who are motivated to kick the habit because of the new law.
"In a recent study, smokers employed in locations with strong smoke-free workplace regulations were 38% more likely to quit over a six-month period than those in regions with no such laws," Van Dam said. "Many people find that no longer having triggers to smoke while on the job helps them to quit for good."
For Michigan smokers who are ready to quit smoking, the Tobacco Quit Line, 800-QUIT NOW, provides free information and referral. Counseling and other services are available to Medicaid, Medicare, Northern Health Plan, and uninsured callers. In addition, Northern Health Plan and uninsured callers may qualify for free nicotine replacement therapy through the Quit Line.
Local resources and materials to help smokers quit are available at the Health Department's website, www.nwhealth.org.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has sponsored the annual awareness day since 1987 to draw attention to the tobacco epidemic and the preventable death and disease it causes. The theme for this year's World No Tobacco Day is "gender and tobacco, with an emphasis on marketing to women."
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death worldwide and is estimated to kill more than five million people each year. If current trends continue, by 2030, tobacco use will cause more than eight million deaths annually.
Although women account for only about 20% of the world's one billion smokers, female tobacco use is on the rise. Particularly troubling is evidence that tobacco industry advertising increasingly targets girls and women. World No Tobacco Day 2010 recognizes the importance of controlling the epidemic of tobacco use among women. This year's theme emphasizes the importance of understanding gender differences in tobacco use, advertising, and health effects to protect and promote the health of women and girls worldwide.
The 2010 World No Tobacco Day campaign focuses on women and girls; however it also recognizes the need to protect boys and men. According the WHO, gender-specific tobacco control strategies will help reduce tobacco use and improve health of all individuals around the world.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information, visit www.nwhealth.org or call the Tobacco Reduction Coalition Coordinator at 231-347-6014.