Category Archives: Public Health News

New Year’s Resolution to Quit Smoking

Each year many people start the New Year ready to kick the habit of nicotine and tobacco. Are you ready to make a firm decision to quit smoking and quit tobacco use? If so, the Chatham County Public Health Department is offering free tobacco cessation classes this January. Tobacco cessation classes begin on January 24th and are available to any Chatham County resident, employee, and their family members looking to quit using tobacco.


Don’t miss this opportunity to receive personal instruction from experienced Chatham County Public Health Department staff. QuitSmart is a proven effective program to help quit all types of tobacco, including smoking, dip/chew and electronic cigarettes. Participants will receive a free QuitSmart Stop Smoking Kit, two weeks of nicotine replacement therapy. All sessions are provided free of charge. These sessions will be held from 5:30 pm-6:45 pm on January 24th, February 7th, and February 9th. All sessions will be held at Chatham County Public Health Department Administrative Building, located in Pittsboro.

Contact Jennifer Park at (919-545-8444) or Anna Stormzand at (919-545-8445) to reserve your spot or for more information.


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!


Three out of 4 American adults favor making 21 the minimum age of sale for tobacco products

Press Release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Three out of 4 American adults—including 7 in 10 cigarette smokers—favor raising the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21, according to anCDC Tobacco Survey article by CDC published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.  While an overwhelming majority of adults favored the policy overall, favorability is slightly higher among adults who never smoked and older adults. In contrast, 11 percent of adults strongly opposed making 21 the legal age of sale, while 14 percent somewhat opposed such measures.

In most states, the minimum age of sale for tobacco is 18; in Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah the minimum age of sale is 19. One state—Hawaii—currently prohibits sales of tobacco products to youth under the age of 21. Additionally, several cities and counties across the U.S. have adopted laws raising the minimum age to 21, starting with Needham, Massachusetts, in 2005. New York City; Hawaii County, Hawaii; Evanston, Illinois; Englewood, New Jersey; Columbia, Missouri; and several other communities in Massachusetts later followed suit.

“Raising the minimum age of sale to 21 could benefit the health of Americans in several ways,” said Brian King, Ph.D., acting Deputy Director for Research Translation in CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health. “It could delay the age of first experimenting with tobacco, reducing the likelihood of transitioning to regular use and increasing the likelihood that those who do become regular users can quit.”

Data for the study came from Styles, a nationally representative online survey of U.S. adults aged 18 and older. The findings are consistent with those from a national survey conducted in 2013and polls of voters in Colorado and Utah that found 57 percent and 67 percent, respectively, favor such policies. Favorability for the policies was found to increase with increasing age.

According to the 2014 Surgeon General Report, the tobacco industry aggressively markets and promotes its products and continues to recruit youth and young adults as new consumers. People who begin smoking at a young age are more likely to become addicted, to progress to daily use, to smoke more as they grow into adulthood, and to have trouble quitting.  A previous Surgeon General Report found about 96 percent of adult smokers first try cigarettes by the age of 21.

Age-of-sale restrictions have been shown to contribute to reductions in tobacco use and dependency among youth. In March 2015, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report found that increasing the legal age of sale for tobacco will likely prevent or delay tobacco use initiation by adolescents and young adults. The IOM found that if all states were to raise the minimum age of sale for all tobacco products to 21, there would be a 12 percent decrease in cigarette smoking prevalence across the nation by 2100. This would translate into nearly 250,000 fewer premature deaths from cigarette smoking among people born between 2000 and 2019.


National Report: North Carolina Ranks 47th in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

From the NC Division of Public Health

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 11, 2014) – North Carolina ranks 47th in the country in funding programs that prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

The report challenges states to do more by shining the spotlight on Florida, which has cut its high school smoking rate to a record low 7.5 percent. The report details the lives and health care dollars each state could save if it brought its teen smoking rate down to Florida’s.

If North Carolina reduced its high school smoking rate from the current 15 percent to 7.5 percent, it would prevent 215,500 kids from becoming adult smokers, saving 76,000 lives and $3.8 billion in future health care costs. Today in North Carolina, tobacco annually claims 14,200 lives and costs the state $3.8 billion in health care bills.

Other key findings for North Carolina include:

  • North Carolina spends $1.2 million per year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 1.2 percent of the $99.3 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • North Carolina will collect $422.4 million in revenue this year from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 0.3 percent of the money on tobacco prevention programs.
  • Tobacco companies spend $349.8 million per year to market their products in North Carolina – 291 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

Today’s report, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 16 Years Later,” was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights.

State funding for North Carolina’s tobacco prevention program was cut from $17.3 million in 2012 to zero in 2013. While North Carolina has provided $1.2 million per year in the past two years, this amount is barely one percent of what the CDC recommends.

“North Carolina is putting its kids at risk and costing taxpayers money by refusing to properly fund tobacco prevention programs that are proven to save lives and health care dollars,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “Florida’s remarkable progress shows it is within our reach to create a tobacco-free generation. But we need elected leaders in North Carolina to wake up and increase funding for proven tobacco prevention programs.”

Nationally, the report finds that:

  • Most states fail to adequately fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The states will collect $25.6 billion this year from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes but will spend only 1.9 percent of it ($490.4 million) on tobacco prevention programs.
  • States are falling woefully short of the CDC’s recommended funding levels for tobacco prevention programs. Altogether, the states budgeted just 14.8 percent of the $3.3 billion the CDC recommends. Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – are funding tobacco prevention programs at CDC-recommended levels.

Evidence shows tobacco prevention and cessation programs work to reduce smoking, save lives and save money. One study found that during the first 10 years of its tobacco prevention program, the state of Washington saved more than $5 in tobacco-related hospitalization costs for every $1 spent on the program.

Tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 480,000 people and costing the nation at least $289 billion in health care bills and lost productivity each year.

The full report and state-specific information can be found at


April is Public Health Month!

Public Health Month is here. From organized walks to open houses to articles in local media and social media, we have you covered. The links below will keep you up to date on activities: