February 15, 2007 issue

Local Organizations Launch Smokefree Business Campaign

The Appalachian District Health Department, the Northwest Tobacco Prevention Coalition and the Watauga High Against Tobacco Club are teaming up to promote smokefree environments. Last year this group led a successful Smokefree Dining Campaign, resulting in a smokefree restaurant rate of 70 percent for Watauga County.

Employees, employers, and customers all benefit when businesses are smokefree. Maintenance costs are reduced. Carpet, office equipment and furniture last longer, and the risk of accidental fire is decreased. A smokefree workplace increases productivity of employees and is more appealing to customers. In addition, employees of smokefree workplaces are motivated and encouraged to quit smoking, reducing health costs and decreasing absenteeism. Finally, everyone should be aware that the recent Surgeon General’s Report on Secondhand Smoke has confirmed that secondhand smoke is dangerous to all individuals, especially pregnant women, asthma sufferers and those with heart disease.

Workplaces that are 100 percent smokefree are invited to join the Smokefree Business campaign. To be considered 100 percent smokefree, a business must prohibit smoking in all its indoor areas, including offices, employee break rooms and restrooms. Those that meet these criteria will be presented with a certificate and given a window decal. The colorful Smokefree Business decal carries the same traffic light logo used on the Smokefree Restaurant decals. This decal can be placed in a window or on a door to let all potential customers know that they will be safe from secondhand smoke when they come in.

This fall, the Watauga High Against Tobacco Club conducted a survey among students to identify businesses where secondhand smoke is of greatest concern to teens. These businesses will be contacted with an invitation to become smokefree and join the campaign. The survey found that 71 percent of students are concerned about the effect of secondhand smoke on their health. Ninety-one percent would like businesses to keep all smoking 20 or more feet from the entry, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Businesses wishing to join the campaign or wanting info about becoming smokefree can contact Teri Van Dyke, Northwest Tobacco Prevention Coalition Coordinator, at 828-264-4995 or by email at TeriV@apphealth.com.