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HAHRC Beats: ‘Change is in our air’

By BELINDA BALLAH

Tobacco prevention specialist

There is a growing move toward protecting our air that we breathe from toxins that are known to cause cancer. In an effort to do this, you may be noticing more signage around our community that promotes healthy living. Within the last six months, Hood River County facilities, parks and forests have gone tobacco- and smoke-free, along with the Parks and Recreation District, the Library District, Mt. Hood Town Hall, the Power Station and all Hood River Chamber events.

By tobacco- and smoke-free policies being adopted, not only are we protecting our air but we are also protecting our youth. We as a community are making the statement that tobacco use is not the norm.

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, at current rates 74,000 kids now under 18 and alive in Oregon will die prematurely from smoking. The younger someone starts, the harder it is for them to quit.

Our youth are not the only ones that are affected by tobacco. Nine percent of adults in Hood River County regularly smoke cigarettes, according to the Oregon Health Authority. This may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that $6 million is spent on medical care due to tobacco use, 32 people have died in the last year from tobacco and 620 people suffer from a serious illness caused by tobacco, it is simply too high (Oregon Health Authority, County Fact Sheet 2013).

We in Hood River County are moving in the correct direction to protect our community from tobacco. There is still more that needs to be done and you can be a part of this effort.

If you are a business that wishes to adopt a tobacco smoke-free policy or if you would like to strengthen a policy that already exists, contact Belinda Ballah, tobacco prevention specialist, at belinda.ballah@co.hood-river.or.us or call 541-387-6890.

If you are a current tobacco user and would like information on tobacco cessation, the Quit Line is available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-877-2NO-FUME).

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Healthy Active Hood River County (HAHRC) is our community healthy living coalition. We promote wellness through increased physical activity, healthy eating, tobacco use prevention and policy and environmental change. Its next meeting is Jan. 28, 11:30 a.m. at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.

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