Everyone deserves to breathe clean air. And in 2007, to protect the residents of Cook County and the State of Illinois from the dangers of second-hand smoke, two laws went into effect: the Cook County Clean Indoor Act of 2007 and the Smoke Free Illinois Act of 2008. These laws later motivated the creation of local municipal codes to limit smoking in public places. But growing statistics show that more health policies are needed to promote community tobacco-free environments, prevent youth tobacco initiation, and to educate the general population about the benefits of tobacco cessation (www.HealthyHotSpot.org/Tobacco-Freeinitiatives ).
With the overall health and wellness of the Village of Park Forest as our central focus, the Park Forest Health Department has partnered with the Cook County Department of Public Health, and the Respiratory Health Association to raise awareness about the risk factors associated with tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. As collaborative partners, our local health department will begin to offer onsite smoking cessation classes to Park Forest area residents who are committed to attempting to quit the habit. Classes will be held weekly for seven week in the lower level of Village Hall at Nurses Plus/Park Forest Health Department on Wednesday evening from 7:00p.m.-9:00 p.m. beginning on May 6th through June 17th, 2015. The registration cost is $50 per participant which includes access to the 8 sessions held over 7 weeks, a participant booklet and a participant CD. Participants will be asked to commit to attending the full 7 week session.
Why should you try to quit if you are a smoker? Research shows that 443,000 deaths in the U.S. each year are caused by smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke (www.HealthyHotSpot.org). Research has shown that exposure to smoking increases the frequency of Asthma attacks, the rate of upper and lower respiratory infections, increased coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and lung inflammation. There has also been evidence of increased eye, ear, nose and throat irritations, and more ear infections noted in children. (Levy, B.S., Wegman, D.H., Baron. S.L. & Sokas, R.K., 2011). Smoking and exposure to second hand smoke has even been linked to higher rates of heart attacks, strokes, lung cancers, pneumonias, bronchitis, low term birth weight infants, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) deaths. In other words, smoking not only affects the health of the smoker, it compromises the health of those who inadvertently have chronic exposure to the smoker’s surrounding air. This could be a spouse, a child or grandchild or a neighbor. Research also showed that 44 % higher Asthma rates were found among children who live with a smoker. Even short term exposures to second hand smoke have been linked with emergency room visits and hospitalizations in both young children and the elderly. This translates to increased health care costs for parents and families, and rising health care costs for Medicaid, Medicare, Private Insurance recipients and local hospitals and medical providers.
A recent Suburban Cook County survey showed that 1 out of every 5 residents smoke and that 20% of South Suburban Cook County renters polled would even be willing to pay more in order to live in a building that is smoke-free. In addition, 35 to 65% of the air in any given unit is shared with air from other units and common areas. There is no known way to separate clean air from smoke filled air in a shared ventilation system. Smoke free buildings are in demand in suburban Cook County. (www.healthyHotSpot.Org). Here’s what’s happening in and near Park Forest this fall. In September, HUD properties will transition into smoke-free buildings, Juniper Towers will be transitioning to a smoke-free facility, Victory Center of Park Forest has already transitioned to become a smoke-free facility, the Housing Authority of Cook County will be going smoke-free and the Governor’s State University Campus will be going smoke-free as of September as well. Other multi-family housing units in town are also considering the health benefits to their residents if they incorporate smoke-free policies as well. You may be asked to complete a survey to express how you feel about having a smoke-free environment to live in. The staff at Park Forest Health Department will be visiting many of the multi-family housing units throughout the village to provide community education and resources about the benefits of living in a smoke-free environment. The health department will continue to be a resource to property managers who want to incorporate smoke free living policies, or to area residents who aim to try to quit smoking. Properties which agree to become smoke-free, will also enjoy the benefit of special advertisement and marketing on the Cook county Department of Public Health’s www.HealthyHotSpot.org website as a Cook County Healthy HotSpot facility where individuals can seek rental while avoiding exposure to second hand smoke. For more questions, please contact Nurses Plus/Park Forest Health Department in the lower level of village hall at 350 Victory Drive. Feel free to call to (708) 748-1118 to either pre-register for a Freedom from Smoking Class or to ask to speak to a Freedom from Smoking Facilitator. Classes are limited to a capacity of 10 to 15 clients per cycle of sessions.
Jenise Ervin, MSN
Director of Public Health
Nurses Plus Home HealthCare /Park Forest Health Department