Written by: Angela Mucci

Jackson County made a step towards ensuring healthier lungs this winter! On February 19th Tobacco Prevention Manager Tobin Lee announced that the Jackson County Board of Commissioners passed a vote in favor of making all Jackson County government buildings smoke free. This new ordinance states that all buildings either owned or rented by Jackson county will be smoke-free both inside and in all areas “near or close to” the building.

The new policy covers all bases. Health Educator Supervisor Janelle Messer, from the Jackson County Public Health Department reported:  “County employees and visitors to our buildings will gain additional protection from exposure since the secondhand smoke will not be continuously entering through entry and exit ways.” Janelle, a member of the Employee Wellness Program Committee, helped revise the ordinance and shared the changes with the County Commissioners for their vote and final approval. She added that the “outdated ordinance permitted smoking in the County Jail, though that has not been allowed for years “. The Wellness Committee, comprised of various county departments had been working towards the ordinance and also had support and input from the Jackson County Sherriff’s office.  Reflecting on the results, she stated: “We are thankful the County has revised the ordinance to best meet the needs of the community.”


In addition to banning cigarette smoking, the new ruling will also ban electronic cigarettes from the designated areas. Electronic cigarettes, which are sometime called e-cigarettes, vapes, vape pens or hookah pens, are advertised as a “healthier” alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.  They are battery operated devices which contain a liquid solution made of aerosol, and different combinations of flavoring and nicotine.

“E-cigs” are advertised as a way to quit smoking, with marketers claiming that people can control how much nicotine they add to the liquid solution they inhale. Usually the solutions contain unregulated amounts of nicotine and other “chemicals, including those added, and [those] produced during the heating/vaporizing process,” according to a publication on drug abuse.gov.  Furthermore, the Surgeon General warns that:  “Nicotine, heavy metals and tiny particles that can harm the lungs have been found in secondhand e-cigarette aerosol.” Research is being done to find out if e-cigs are a safe way to quit smoking. For now, using e-cigs is not recommended. Here’s a list of proven, effective and safe methods for quitting. https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips/explore-quit-methods



What’s next for Tobin Lee and the Region 1 Tobacco Cessation Team? His long term goal is to ban smoking in all public places, in all the counties he works with. One major focus now is the Parks and Recreation Department in Swain County.

Lee says: “The goal of the SF/TF policy is to make all parks and recreational areas in Swain County smoke-free or Tobacco Free.  This policy will greatly reduce the exposure of secondhand and thirdhand smoke to people, especially children, visiting Swain County Parks and Rec. “The impact of the Swain County Parks and Rec will be huge.  We have some of the highest rates of smoking in North Carolina: 18.5%. I have been working with The Coalition for a Safe and Drug Free Swain County on this for over a year. “

Stay tuned for updates about the goal to make Swain County healthier, and to reduce health-care costs!

Successful quit-rates are higher when people have resources to help them stop smoking. That’s why the Region 1 Tobacco Cessation Team continues to develop classes and organize peer counseling, in order to provide such resources. They also put up billboards with the NC Quitline’s phone number: 1-800-quit-now, which include a Spanish-speaking hotline:  1-855-dejelo-ya. If you or someone you know wants to find classes or resources near you, contact Tobin Lee at Tobin@Mountainwise.org.

Here’s some additional resources to help!

Quitnet.com: Quitnet.com is an interactive online community that provides smoking cessation support. Registration is required.

ChewFree.com assists people who want to quit using chewing tobacco or snuff. It was developed as part of a research project funded by the National Institutes of Health.

BecomeAnEx.org strives to help you identify your triggers…any time, place, activity or person can trigger your desire to smoke. Once your triggers are identified, BecomeAnEx.org provides resources to teach you how to deal with these urges without smoking. Information is available in English and Spanish.

Freedomfromsmoking.org is the American Lung Association’s online, web-based smoking cessation program. Registration is required. Information is available in English and Spanish.

YouQuitTwoQuit is aimed at expectant families and has special tips and materials for mothers and fathers to be.

Aspire.com is an online program to help teens quit smoking. It has different sections for students who are just experimenting with tobacco and for those who are addicted and even for those who are not interested in quitting now.

Citations: (https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes)