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Tobacco-Free Lee plans to cut use

By Staff | Jul 8, 2009

TLee County Health Department will launch a new coalition today, Tobacco-Free Lee, which will bring together the student and adult community, business and faith leaders to cut tobacco-use rates.
The first organizational meeting is today in North Ft. Myers.
This new initiative is in response to the alarming rate of smokers in Lee County. Almost 20 percent of adults in Lee County smoke, youth light up more than the state average and 14 percent of pregnant women screened for special prenatal services reported smoking during pregnancy.
The founding coalition members include representatives from the Lee County Health Department, Lee Memorial Health Systems, Lee County School Board and Family Health Centers.
“We truly want to lower the numbers of youth who are starting smoking, and the women’s issues are certainly of concern. Because the health department was recently awarded a three-year, $600,000 state grant to address the high rates of tobacco usage in the county, we can develop programs targeted to the most vulnerable in our population, youth and pregnant women,” said Brendan Donohue, tobacco program specialist, Lee County Health Department.
In Lee County, more women than men smoke — 22.6 percent vs. 16.4 percent. Among children, 5.7 percent of Lee County middle-schoolers reported smoking within 30 days of taking a behavioral risk survey and 18.4 percent of high-schoolers reported doing so. The statewide average rates were 5 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively.
Among the coalition’s top goals will be to partner with the health care community to target pregnant women with a tobacco cessation intervention at every prenatal care visit and make sure they know about resources to help them quit. Also, the new coalition wants to work toward enacting litter laws to curtail the cigarette butts collecting on county streets and beaches as well as pushing toward making all county buildings tobacco-free. Exact plans and strategies will be developed at coalition meetings.

Source: Department of Health