In response to the continued high prevalence of tobacco use in the region, the North Country Population Health Improvement Program (NC PHIP) of the Glens Falls-based Adirondack Health Institute has established the North Country Tobacco Use Reduction Task Force.
The task force, comprised of individuals and organizations committed to improving the health of North Country communities in six counties, will promote strategies to reduce the use of all forms of tobacco products throughout the region via a new initiative, “It’s Time to Clear the Air in the North Country,” according to organizers.
AHI officials said state Department of Health figures indicate that in 2014:
• More than 22 percent of adults 18 years of age and older in the North Country were cigarette smokers compared to 15 percent of adults in all of the state.
• The percentage of adult cigarette smokers in each county in the North Country exceeded the state percentage.
• North Country young adults (ages 18 to 24) smoked cigarettes at a significantly higher percentage than all New Yorkers in that age range (21 percent compared to 13 percent).
• More than one quarter of males ages 18 to 24 in the North Country smoked cigarettes in 2014.
These and other data about factors related to cigarette smoking are included in a new report released by the NC PHIP, “Review of Data Associated with Adult Cigarette Smoking in the North Country.” The report can be viewed and downloaded from the HealthyADK website at www.healthyadk.org.
“To address the high use of tobacco products in the North Country, the Task Force will promote a comprehensive strategy that includes educating the region about the prevalence and impact of tobacco use, expanding and strengthening tobacco cessation services, promoting smoke-free policies, and raising the minimum legal sale age of tobacco products to 21 years of age throughout the North Country region,” said Tom Tallon, AHI’s PHIP manager, AHI.
“Preventing young people from starting to use tobacco products is critical due to the fact that nearly 96 percent of smokers begin smoking before the age of 21 and because smokers frequently transition from experimentation to addiction between the ages of 18 and 21.”
People who want to express their support for increasing the age for buying tobacco products to 21 can sign an on-line petition at www.healthyadk.org.
Officials said the Task Force invites and welcomes participation from all organizations, schools, businesses and individuals with an interest in clearing the air and improving the health of all North Country communities and residents in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties.
“It’s going to take a rigorous, unified effort from all sectors for this initiative to be successful,” said task force member Dana Bushey Isabella, program director, Tobacco-Free Clinton Franklin Essex. “We’re confident that with community support, due diligence and hard work, our collective efforts will have a significant impact on reducing tobacco use in the region.”
The North Country Population Health Improvement Program is a state Department of Health-funded program. For more information about the program contact Tallon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 480-0111, ext. 306.