A couple of months ago Georgina Nowak of the Southeastern Utah Health District and April Durrant of the Local Interagency Council (LIC) approached the Carbon County Commission and the Price City Council about a campaign they had set up called STOP (Stop Tobacco Obsession Permanently).
The two said their emphasis for the coming year would be to get second hand smoke eliminated from public outdoor venues, such as at rodeos, demolition derbies and baseball games.
The first step toward working on this goal took place in the last month with the formation of an advisory council to evaluate the problem and to try and design programs to work toward policies that would help to cut down the problem. As discussions have proceeded, it has also been perceived that possibly drug and alcohol policies at the school district level should be separated from tobacco policies, since in many ways they are handled differently.
The advisory council has people from all areas of community service, private industry, schools and government. It also contains three members called "peer leaders." These three individuals are teenagers, the age at which tobacco policy has to start to stop any trend toward the use of the products.
"We are not trying to develop a huge policy to ban smoking everywhere," said Durrant, who led the first meeting. Instead she said that one of the intents of the group is to help the community set aside areas at outside activities where people can smoke so it won't affect others in the crowd.
Second hand cigarette smoke has proven to be a large cause of respiratory problems and cancer across the nation. In fact, presently, a very strong television campaign is being run about "sharing second hand smoke" with others.
One of the issues that arose during discussion at the first meeting was how smoking on school campus' has been handled. Many on the committee felt that teachers and students look the other way when they see someone smoking because it is such a hassle to turn someone in. That is partly because smoking policy is a part of a complex program that ties it to drugs.
The group suggested that a new policy be adopted that spell out what teachers should do if they catch students smoking. A tracking system was also suggested so that students who were caught could be followed up on.
At the second meeting earlier this week the council broke itself into two separate subcommittees, one to work on changes in school policy and the other for helping design a policy for designated smoking areas outdoors.
"I think so far it has been very productive and we have a great start to work toward our goals," stated Durrant.
In the past year the LIC has been doing various surveys in the community and at events to see how people feel about smoking. Surprisingly some of the strongest support for designated smoking areas has come from those who presently smoke.
Initially there was also some talk of working on controlling chewing tobacco use as well, but for this year at least, smoking was considered the bigger problem because the health hazards it presents for others is obvious.