Tobacco: Reducing use and Exposure

The North Country Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP) is working to reduce youth tobacco use and exposure by partnering with the American Lung Association (ALA) to educate the public on the dangers of tobacco use, including e-cigarettes and vapes, as well as exposure to secondhand smoke and vaping aerosol. Nearly one in five Minnesota high school students use tobacco, according to the 2014 Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey, and the CDC notes that if the current rate of smoking persists, one in every 13 youth ages 17 years or younger are predicted to die prematurely from a smoking related illness. Tobacco use is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease in Minnesota, and industry marketing strategies still target youth by placing cigarette advertisements at child’s eye level and offering fruit and candy- flavored tobacco products, like grape or bubble gum.

Jodi Johnson, SHIP staff, gave presentations on tobacco trends and 2 prevention to the following groups:

  • Lake of the Woods County Board

  • Baudette City Council

  • Rotary

  • Lake of the Woods School District staff - Information was shared regarding the increase in the use of e cigarettes by our youth, the overall tobacco data from our region and state, and community policy solutions and effective evidence-based strategies, such as raising the minimum tobacco sales age 21, also known as Tobacco 21.

Jodi also conducted tobacco retailer store audits to note where tobacco products and advertising are placed within licensed tobacco shops in Lake of the Woods County. In addition to tobacco public education and store audits, North Country SHIP also partnered with ALA and sent out quarterly mailings to 68 housing managers/owners of multiunit housing properties in the North Country region. They offered assistance for 3 those with smoke-free policies and encouraged property owners to consider adopting a smoke free policy.

North Country SHIP continues to offer support and resources to multi unit housing including HUD housing. According to ALA, secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard causing more than 41,000 deaths per year. It can cause or make worse a wide range of damaging health effects in children and adults, including lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma. North Country SHIP will continue to work towards reducing commercial tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure.