County Commissioners Adopt Rules Limiting Vaping In Public

County Commissioners Adopt Rules Limiting Vaping In Public

County Commissioners Adopt Rules Limiting Vaping In Public Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 17 November 2020 19:16

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - Earlier this year the New Hanover County Health and human Services Board recommended   revising rules prohibiting the use of e-cigarretts and tobacco within the County.

According to the Board, "This is a revised version of the rule adopted by the Health and Human Services Board in August that includes the prohibition of use of tobacco and e-cigarettes in county, town and city buildings, vehicles and grounds, as well as in public places in New Hanover County, like restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.  Revisions include removing references to streets and sidewalks, and changing language to clarify enforcement by municipalities."

North Carolina teen tobacco use continues to climb, with youth use rising by 1.2 percent to 28.8 percent based on results of the 2017 N.C. Youth Tobacco Survey, released earlier this year by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Data also show that 16.9 percent of North Carolina teens report using e-cigarettes, compared to 11.7 percent in the National Youth Tobacco Survey, also released today.

The state survey showed e-cigarettes have been the tobacco product most frequently used by middle and high school students in North Carolina since 2015.

"The use of e-cigarettes by youth is very concerning," said State Health Director and DHHS Chief Medical Officer Betsey Tilson, M.D., MPH. "Nicotine exposure during adolescence and young adulthood can lead to nicotine addiction and it harms brain development." Another indicator that e-cigarettes will continue to be popular among North Carolina youth is 23.3 percent of high school students said they were considering using the products in the coming year.

One brand of e-cigarettes holds more than 60 percent of the U.S. market and delivers more nicotine than most of its competitors. San Francisco-based JUUL brand’s popularity among youth may be related to the product’s resemblance to a USB flash drive, which makes it easy to conceal.

"The marketing and flavors draw youth in; but the nicotine, which is highly addictive, keeps them coming back," said Susan Kansagra, M.D., MBA, chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section of the Division of Public Health. “Another worrisome trend we are seeing is that youth are using multiple tobacco products."

"The use of multiple products creates concern about nicotine exposure," added Dr. Kansagra. "There is also data showing that youth who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become regular cigarette smokers than those who do not.” The North Carolina survey is administered in the fall on odd-numbered years within randomly
selected middle and high schools. More than 6,300 students representative of middle and high school peers across state participated in the 2017 survey.

M.D., MBA, chief of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section of the Division of Public Health. “Another worrisome trend we are seeing is that youth are using multiple tobacco products."

Half of high schoolers who use tobacco and nearly half of middle schoolers who use tobacco report using more than one tobacco product, which is similar to national data. Use of cigars, flavored little cigars and cigarillos by high school students increased from 2015 to 2017. High school students are at risk of becoming addicted to nicotine, a fact confirmed by a North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services analysis of vaping devices confiscated from students at seven schools in various parts of the state.

For the last four years, e-cigarettes have been the most frequently used tobacco products among students in North Carolina. From 2011 to 2017, e-cigarette use by high school students increased nearly 900 percent with 16.9 percent reporting e-cigarette use in 2017.

Among middle school students, e-cigarette use increased by over 400 percent from 2011 to 2017. Use of e-cigarettes by students while in school poses health and safety risks and violates established tobacco-free school policies in North Carolina.

While the FDA has authority over these products, according to the current FDA time-line, the products themselves would not begin to become fully regulated until August 2022.

On November 16th, the County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to implement an ordinance prohibiting the use of combustible tobacco and e-cigarettes in New Hanover County. The ordinance will go into effect February 1, 2021.

The ordinance approves and ordains the Smoke and Vaping Rule adopted by the New Hanover County Health and Human Services (HHS) Board on October 16, 2020 and includes the prohibition of tobacco and e-cigarettes in county, town and city buildings, vehicles and grounds, as well as in public places in the county like restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

“This ordinance aligns the expectations of vaping with traditional cigarette smoking in most public places, and protects residents from unwanted inhalation of second hand smoke and e-cigarette vapors,” said Public Health Director Phillip Tarte. “With no regulation in place for vaping and e-cigarette use, residents are unintentionally exposed to harmful substances in what seems like unlikely places, like a theater or retail store. As we learn more about vaping and associated health risks, it’s important as a community to take action.”

In 2017, 19.5 percent of US high school students reported currently using tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and in 2018, Surgeon General Jerome Adams emphasized the importance of protecting young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated health risks by addressing the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use.

The HHS Board conducted months of in-depth research and revisions to the rule, informed by community feedback and public health guidance. The rule, as required by North Carolina Public Health law, was then approved by the Board of Commissioners through an ordinance.

Over the coming months, New Hanover County Public Health will be further engaging with municipalities, community partners, businesses, local health providers and others on educating the community and implementing the ordinance. By February 1, signage will be placed in areas where smoking and vaping is prohibited (see a detailed list in the table below). The ordinance does not apply to private residences, private vehicles, streets, sidewalks, vaping shops, designated smoking areas as permitted by NC law and other exemptions as listed.

The ordinance will apply throughout New Hanover County, including the city and beach towns. Enforcement of the ordinance differs depending on whether the infraction is vaping or combustible tobacco use, but both provide the option of an oral warning.

“Our desire is a healthy community across the board, so our first option will always be education over punitive action,” Tarte said. “We’ll be continuing and increasing our efforts in education and sharing resources on smoking cessation. Quitting smoking or vaping is the single most important thing you can do for your health. Some benefits, like lower heart rate, lower blood pressure and improved circulation are seen within two weeks, while risk of heart disease and cancer continue to decrease over time.”
 
Free smoking cessation resources are available through the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch. Additionally, residents can call the NC Smoking and E-Cigarette Use Quitline at 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.QuitLineNC.com for free quitting support services.
For more information and to view the rule, visit www.Health.NHCgov.com

QuitlineNC is North Carolina’s tobacco cessation program, which can help people quit e-cigarettes as well as other tobacco products. For free help to quit, call 1-800-QuitNow (1-800-784-8669) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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