Public reporting of outcomes
On April 3, 2018, Jefferson County Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Coordinator, Natalie Garrett, presented information about tobacco use and electronic cigarettes to approximately 1,000 students, staff and administrators at Madison Junior High School (Madison, IN). To maximize participation, Natalie worked with the School Resource Officer to arrange a date and time that allowed the most students, teachers, and other team members to attend.
Natalie’s presentation covered the following topics:
- Basic facts about tobacco use and the use of electronic cigarettes (known as vaping);
- Specifics related to the Juul, a new form of e-cigarette that looks like a USB (thumb) drive;
- Risks associated with the use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes;
- Marketing of tobacco and e-cigarette products to youth;
- Resources for quitting tobacco use.
During her presentation, Natalie informed attendees that users of tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) often become addicted to nicotine. She told students that nicotine can cause significant reactions, and thus, in turn, lead to an addiction. Once addicted, it becomes difficult to for individuals to quit using tobacco or e-cigarette products.
Further, Natalie explained that chemicals contained in tobacco products routinely damage human cells, increasing a person’s risk of developing a variety of health issues, including cancer. While lung cancer is the most common cancer associated with tobacco use (smoking), tobacco users are also at greater risk of developing oral, esophageal, and stomach cancers, among many.
Natalie also explained that tobacco and e-cigarette companies often use marketing methods that are enticing to youth. These marketing techniques are designed to make the products appear enjoyable or “cool” while disregarding or minimizing many of the potential health hazards. This is particularly true for e-cigarettes. Many of the flavors promoted with vaping liquids are associated with candy or other pleasurable tastes, making them more enjoyable to consume.
We believe this presentation was an effective outreach effort for these reasons:
- Students were attentive and participated as part of their regular school day.
- Over 1,000 students and adults were reached during this single presentation.
- Several students asked questions that Natalie answered at the conclusion of her presentation, demonstrating that students were paying attention and interested in the topic.
- Tobacco and e-cigarette use remain a health concern in our community as outlined by the most recent Health Needs Assessment (2016).
According to the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment, Jefferson County (IN) had a higher incidence of cancer compared to the State of Indiana average. Jefferson County also had a higher incidence of lung cancer (84 per 100,000) as compared to Indiana (72 per 100,000). Based on Health Needs Assessment data at the time, 22 percent of adults in Jefferson County used tobacco, compared to 23 percent in Indiana. The rate of mothers who smoked during pregnancy was significantly higher in Jefferson County (27.1%) than in Indiana (15.1%). Data from the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) indicates that 31% of adults in Jefferson County smoke (tobacco use) and that 30.4% of pregnant women smoke, compared to the state average of 13.5%. Tobacco use and smoking are significant health issues in our county. Smoking directly impacts the incidence of lung and other cancers in our community.