Category Archives: General

Making a Firm Decision to Quit Smoking: Chatham County Commissioner Mike Cross shares his story about tobacco cessation

By Jennifer Park, Health Promotion Coordinator

Chatham County Commissioner Mike Cross started his journey with tobacco as a teenager because he wanted to try something new. However, after smoking for most of his life, he decided “enough was enough.” His firm decision to quit, rather than just “trying to quit,” has helped him stay smoke-free.

With the new tobacco-free Chatham County grounds policy going into effect March 1, 2016, Cross said that he did not want to ask employees to stop using tobacco while on county grounds if he, was a smoker too. The updated policy will prohibit the use of any tobacco product on county grounds, including county parks. The policy applies to, cigarettes, cigars, all forms of smokeless tobacco (e.g. dip), and other tobacco devices, such as electronic cigarettes and other vapor products.

“I’ve told myself I cannot do this anymore,” Cross said. “From a health and even a social viewpoint, I know I will be better off not smoking. I’ve always known better, I just haven’t done better.” Commissioner Cross encourages employees to stop tobacco use, but he recognizes it is a personal decision.

Making a firm decision to quit smoking, tobacco use or electronic cigarettes is difficult. Tobacco use is a physical, mental and emotional habit. Individuals may choose to use nicotine replacement therapy to help with the urges, or professional coaching to help change habits.

Commissioner Cross said that he’s found ways to help himself fight urges and change his habits. He might get busy cleaning his house or car. He also found it helpful to eat nutritious foods, avoid social situations where smoking is prevalent, and use nicotine replacement gum.

“You have to decide, ‘I quit!’ and stick with it,” Cross said, while consider the addictive quality of smoking. Smoking causes coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, decreased energy levels, poor circulation and poor sleeping habits. Cross said that he is looking forward to continued health improvements, feeling better, and not having the inconveniences that smoking brought to his life. With fewer places allowing tobacco use, smoking becomes an inconvenience and can mean missing out on social interactions when you have to go elsewhere to smoke.

“Take one day at a time,” Cross advised. He added that an effective strategy was giving himself small rewards for each day, week, and month that he was smoke free.  “Have a grape!” he joked, or anything to focus on small successes. Tobacco cessation is not easy, making a firm decision helps override the urge, Cross said, adding that while his cessation methods worked for him, everyone is different.

Cross’ advice to youth is that “nothing good will come to you from using tobacco. Reflect on your decisions that will impact you today and later in life.”

Tobacco cessation resources are available by contacting the North Carolina Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). Tobacco use is a relationship in your life, and only you can decide the power it has over you.


Happy (almost) New Year!

The Chatham County Public Health Department would like to wish you all a happy (and safe) new year. 2015 was a year of progress and hard work for us, with many new initiatives taking shape. Here, we take a few moments to highlight some of these efforts, many of which will continue in the years to come.

  •  The Chatham Health Alliance kicked off earlier this year. With representation from dozens of agencies, organizations and residents Alliance Logo Croppedfrom across the county, the Alliance has gotten off to a fast start in its work to address Chatham’s health priorities. The Alliance’s potential to address these issues was recently recognized, as it received a grant from The Duke Endowment to sustain its work.
  • There has been a growing concern over well water quality, especially in areas where it may be affected by coal ash sites. The Environmental Health Division has worked hard to assess potential risks and share information with residents. More information can be found here.
  • Recognizing the growing threat of new forms of tobacco and in order to foster a healthy environment, the County Manager signed a policy prohibiting tobacco use, including electronic cigarettes, on county property. This includes the county parks system. The policy, which was developed by health promotion staff at the direction of the Chatham County Board of Health, will take effect March 1, 2016.
  • Animal Services has continued its important work toKelsey find homes for Chatham’s pets while protecting the health of both these pets and their human counterparts. In July, Chatham County Animal Services joined partners from across the country to rescue 190 animals. The partners then worked together to bring the animals back to health and find them forever homes.
  • Animal Services Director Leigh Anne Garrard will be taking a position with the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office in the new year. LA2While this is sad news for us, we are happy Leigh Anne will continue to be able to serve Chatham’s residents. Leigh Anne was recently recognized as Chatham County Employee of the Quarter and health department Supervisor of the Year. “Leigh Anne has been a tremendous asset to the Animal Services Division and to the Health Department during her tenure as the Animal Services Director. We wish her the all the best and look forward to seeing her in her new role,” Public Health Director Layton Long said in a statement.
  • The 2014 Chatham County Community Health Assessment, or CHA, was completed, submitted, and approved! The CHA identifies health priorities for the county, which have been used to guide efforts of the Chatham Health Alliance. See the CHA here.
  • Our clinic team worked hard to make healthcare accessible to Chatham residents. In addition to the numerous services offered at the clinic in Siler City, the preventive health team implemented a campaign to get flu vaccines to homebound residents.

Happy new year and please remember to stay safe as you celebrate!


Staying Active During Pregnancy

Rhianna Wells, CCPHD colleague and young mother, shares some tips on staying active during pregnancy.

American middle distance runner Alysia Montano knows a thing or two about staying active during pregnancy. On Thursday, June 26th, Alysia ran 800 meters at the US Track and Field Championships. Did we mention she was nearly 8 months pregnant? This 5 time national champ finished nearly 35 seconds slower than her personal best but she still got a standing ovation from the crowd as she crossed the finish line.

Although you don’t have to go out and run 800 meters in a national competition like Alysia Montano, staying active during pregnancy is great for both mother and baby. Its benefits include better pregnancy outcomes and shorter labors (and reduced ankle swelling).

CCPHD's Jennifer Park goes for a run

CCPHD’s Jennifer Park goes for a run

Active moms are able to maintain a healthy weight during pregnancy and in turn give birth to a baby with a lower, but healthier, weight. Labor and delivery are often said to be a marathon, so training for this event is key. Moms who stay physically active are able to endure the labor process easier than those living a sedentary pregnancy lifestyle. But it’s not just about the physical benefits; exercise is also great for reducing stress and lessening anxiety. It can be tough to quiet the mind with all the things you are thinking about while you are growing and preparing for a baby and exercise can help reduce that anxiety and boost your mood. Read tips here!


Community Health Survey Coming Next Week!

Every four years, the health department, as a requirement of the state for accreditation, conducts a Community Health Assessment (CHA). Part of our assessment is a community survey, where we reach out to county residents for perspectives on their community’s main health issues.

Next week, from March 12-15, county employees and volunteers will be going door-to-door to speak directly with residents. The survey was created by the CHA Steering Committee, which consists of over 40 community members and staff from local organizations and agencies. In total, the team aims to get around 210 responses from randomly-selected households across the county. The methodology is based on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) CASPER methodology. Learn more about the health assessment and community survey!


It’s time to Start Thinking about your Garden

On days like this, where it’s hard to know if spring is upon us or we’re headed back to winter, it’s nice to start thinking ahead to warmer days. Here at the health department, one of our favorite outdoor activities from last summerCommunity Gaden was starting up the county community garden. The garden and its produce were hits among county staff who participated in the project, as well as those who received fresh vegetables through CORA.

A garden not only provides access to fresh, delicious produce; indeed, many staff members told us they were eating more vegetables because of the garden. Gardening is also a great way to be physically active (those who don’t believe gardening counts as exercise are welcome to spread the remaining mulch we have). Click here to learn about starting your own garden!