DPH Expands Tobacco Use Ban

March 13, 2014

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has expanded its tobacco use policy with the aim of protecting employees from secondhand smoke and encouraging those who use tobacco to quit.

Effective March 30, the use of tobacco products will be prohibited in any DPH facility, including all buildings, parking lots, outdoor areas and DPH-owned vehicles. The ban is effective at all state DPH facilities and some district offices, including those in the Northwest, North Central, Southwest and Southeast Health Districts. The list of banned products includes cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes.

Jean O’Connor, DrPH, director of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at DPH, said the policy makes the department a role model for other state agencies and employers.

“Going tobacco-free is one important way for us to show we care about the health of our employees and visitors and ensure everyone understands the dangers of tobacco use,” she said.

The policy is designed not only to protect DPH staff, clients and visitors from secondhand smoke, but also to encourage employees who smoke to quit. As part of the updated policy, DPH urges all employees who want to quit to contact the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (1-877-270-7867) for free help and resources.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), evidence indicates that smoke-free policies in workplace settings are associated with reduced daily cigarette consumption among employees and possibly with increased tobacco cessation among employees. Smoke-free policies are also the most effective way to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in Georgia and the U.S. About 1.5 million Georgians smoke cigarettes and about 10,000 Georgia adults die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. But tobacco affects more than those who use it. More than 1,400 adult non-smokers in Georgia die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Tobacco use costs the state nearly $5 billion each year in health care costs and lost productivity.

“There’s just no safe level of tobacco use or secondhand smoke exposure,” O’Connor said. “Encouraging people to quit with free help through the quit line is something we can all do to make the department healthier.”

To learn more about the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line, visit DPH’s website.

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