Posts Tagged ‘tobacco’

Arizona’s First Ever State Health Assessment

February 13th, 2014

Today we published Arizona’s first ever comprehensive State Health Assessment. The objective of the State Health Assessment is to give Arizona’s public health and health care systems a clear tool to help drive future decision-making and resource allocation as we collectively design and implement evidence-based interventions to improve health and wellness outcomes across Arizona.  

The Assessment uses Arizona-specific data to assess the state of the public’s health in Arizona and has been a collaborative effort among all of the health departments in each AZ county as well as the ADHS.  The 15 priority health issues in the Report are obesity, tobacco use, substance abuse, healthcare associated infections, suicides, teen pregnancy, creating healthy communities, behavioral health services, diabetes, heart disease, other chronic diseases (cancer, respiratory disease, asthma), accidents and injuries, oral health, access to well care, and access to health insurance. 

Each public health indicator is summarized for its significance and scope, trending, and comparative analysis against national data.  The report also provides in-depth analysis for a number of indicators in each of Arizona’s 126 Community Health Analysis Areas. 

Please take time to look at the State Health Assessment and the county level community health assessments.  After you’re done, we’d appreciate hearing from you through the survey monkey as we take the next giant step to create Arizona’s first State Health Improvement Plan.

Start the New Year Off Right: Kick the Habit

January 15th, 2014

50 years ago this week the 1st Surgeon General’s report on the health dangers of smoking was published- and we’re still fighting the battle.  About 43 million Americans still smoke despite decades of warnings. Smoking kills more people every year than car crashes, suicides, murders, illegal and prescription drugs, and alcohol abuse combined (6,800 people each year in Arizona). 

If your New Year’s resolution is to quit smoking, you’re in good company. Quitting tobacco is the 3rd most common resolution- but it’s often broken because of a lack of support. The Arizona Smokers’ Helpline (our ASHLine) is a free service available to any Arizonan who’s looking for help to quit tobacco. The ASHLine provides free quit coach services which means you’ll work with someone to develop a quit plan. Many of the coaches are former smokers themselves so they know how difficult quitting can be. 

The ASHLine also provides nicotine replacement therapies such as the gum, patch or medication. When nicotine replacement is combined with the use of a quit coach the ASHLine’s success rate is 33%. Compare that to quitting cold turkey which is only successful 3% of the time. 

If you’re ready to quit tobacco today, call the ASHLine toll-free at 1-800-55-66-222 or visit for more information. Quit coaches are ready to help you make 2014 a tobacco free year.

Sochi Public Health Tips

January 13th, 2014

I know that some of you out there are going to attend  the Winter Olympics – so I put together the blog post below over the weekend for folks that might be going.  Here goes in case you’re interested: Let’s start with the good news first- then the health tips… 

Sochi Games to be Smoke Free-

Russians are 4th in the world in cigarette consumption at about 2,800 cigarettes/person/year (the U.S. is 34th at about 1,000 cigarettes/person/year)… so it’s great that the Russian Federation has made the commitment to make the games smoke-free.  BTW: here’s a country by country listing of cigarette consumption per capita

Smoking will be prohibited in all the Olympic and Paralympic venues, including all bars and restaurants in the  Olympic park. No tobacco will be sold in any of the venues and the anti-smoking policy will be broadcast during all events on the scoreboards.   

Get Vaccinated-

Make sure you’re up to date up-to-date on all your routine vaccines- especially this year’s influenza vaccine.  Many adults haven’t had their Hepatitis A and B vaccine- both of which will come in handy- especially the Hep A vaccine.   There’ll be folks from all over the world there, bringing all sorts of viruses with them in a cold climate- so make a sure you don’t leave any protective vaccines on the table.  

Measles is still fairly common in that part of the world, so everyone under 55 years old should make sure they’re fully vaccinated for the measles.  People over 55 years old probably had the measles as a kid, so they’re at low risk.  More information on recommended vaccines is on CDC’s Russia destination page.   Also, DTaP or TDaP (depending on your age) is a good idea since diphtheria is still circulating in the region. 

Pack Smart-

Be sure to pack a travel health kit, including all your medications.  Pack them in your carry-on luggage and take extra in case of travel delays.  Be sure to pack plenty of warm clothes and sensible shoes with traction so you avoid falls.  The climate in Sochi is about like Prescott in February… but the competitions held uphill on snow and ice and any competition at night will be downright cold.  The right waterproof and windproof clothing will help too because it can rain there in February. 

Stay Hydrated-

It’s a lot easier than you think to get dehydrated in cold weather because cold air holds so little moisture.  Make sure you drink at least a couple of liters of water every day- more is better.   From what I’ve read, the water that leaves the Sochi treatment plant is OK to drink- but some of the underground pipes pre-date the revolution and the water can get contaminated on the way to the tap- so it’s best to seek bottled water or bring your own micro-filter. 

Traffic & Crowds-

Traffic will probably be heavy- so be careful when you’re a pedestrian.  Russian drivers don’t necessarily yield to pedestrians- and cars almost always have the right-of-way there.  Keep your thinking cap on while you’re walking around- not just looking out for cars but watching the ground for ice and stuff.  You don’t want to end up in a Russian hospital instead of enjoying the games!

Spectator crowds are sometimes tricky. Choose a place to meet if you get separated from your group (you probably won’t have your cell service to find each other), and pay attention to where emergency exits are when indoors at large events.  Above all- stay clear headed and don’t over-indulge on alcohol when in crowds or where the footing is slippery. 

Check Your Health Insurance-

Russia requires you to show proof that you have health insurance that’s valid in the Russian Federation in order to get a visa ($50).  Many domestic insurance plans won’t cover you if you need medical care overseas, so check with your insurance provider to find out the extent of your coverage outside the US.  You might want to buy supplemental travel health insurance that will cover any unexpected emergencies while you’re in Russia. 

Safety and Security-For more information about safety and security travel you can check out the State Department’s guidance for travel to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

Arizonans Continue to Kick the Habit

December 6th, 2013

We continue to make strides to get Arizonans to Kick the Habit.  We got the good news this week that Arizona’s adult smoking rate dropped 2 more percentage points in the last year…  going from 19% 2011 to 17% today.  The data come from this year’s CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System…  and it translates into 72,000 fewer AZ smokers and $432M less in total lifetime health-care costs. 

Even more dramatic is the youth rate, which fell from 17% to 14%. We’ve had a 30% drop in our AZ youth smoking rate over the last 4 years meaning that there are 110,000 fewer kids smokers today than four years ago.  A 2009 U of A report on the value of prevention found that preventing one kid from starting to smoke saves the state on average $6,000 over that smoker’s lifetime.  

It’s no coincidence that the historic drop began in 2009.  After years of stagnant youth prevention rates our Tobacco & Chronic Disease prevention team rebooted their tobacco control efforts in 2008. On the adult side, we developed a new strategic plan to improve the effectiveness of our smoking cessation resources via the Arizona Smokers’ Helpline.  A simple cost-effective campaign was created in 2010 that utilized ADHS staff as extras in their “Call Center” campaign, and it  has been very successful. The ASHLine also launched Project Quit…  which is our initiative designed to showcase the quit process. 

On the kids side, we launched our anti-tobacco youth coalition effort, Students Taking a New Direction. Better known as STAND, it empowers teens to make positive changes in their community. With assistance from Tucson based Pima Prevention Partnership, STAND has grown into over twenty collations spread throughout Arizona working on initiatives such as ordinances for smoke-free parks, smoke-free multi-unit housing and expanding smoke-free zones.

Sitting is the new smoking

October 23rd, 2013

Public health embarked on a smoking revolution over the last few decades, kicking it into high gear to provide programs and policies to help Arizonans change their smoking habits. While by no means has the tobacco battle been won, America is currently undergoing another revolution—a walking revolution. Physical activity is not new territory in public health. Public health professionals have been encouraging adults to achieve at least 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week.  Now, though, the public health world is taking a step back and promoting the simplest of physical activities: walking or biking. A recent study from Kansas State University looked at the association between sitting time and chronic diseases. The study found that people who sat for more than four hours per day were significantly more likely to report having a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. 

The Surgeon General has started the “Everybody Walk” campaign, releasing a document entitled “A Walking Revolution: The moving making Americans Happier and Healthier,” developing a free App that tracks all aspects of your walk, and hinting at writing a call to action on walking. This call-to-action is being compared to the famous 1964 Surgeon General’s Report on the dangers of smoking, translating that message into the dangers of sitting. 

Here at ADHS we take an innovative approach to promote more walking and less sedentary behavior. Our focus is to create environments where the healthy choice, walking, is the easy choice. Our Empower program establishes policies in child care centers that decrease sedentary time and screen time, and increases physical activity of youngsters. The Arizona Nutrition Network has been infusing traditional nutrition education with physical activity. Community design initiatives have worked to establish environments where walking or riding a bike are the predominant means of transportation in a community, rather than driving a car. With walking being so simple, the question remains: how will you walk or bike today?


Youth Smoking Cessation Campaign Launches

September 13th, 2013

Our focus groups with young tobacco users across Arizona has found that teen and young adult smokers are different from adult smokers. Young smokers may not smoke daily and don’t see themselves as smokers. They also aren’t receptive to the idea of needing help to quit. Many teen and young adult smokers believe that they can quit at any time without help and have little or no knowledge about quitting. 

Using this info (and other key info from the focus groups) we’ve crafted and launched our new comprehensive program aimed at helping adolescents and young adult smokers kick the habit.  It’s called “THE CIGNAL“ and we launched it last week.  The program includes ASHLine quit coaches that have been specifically trained to help teens recognize their addiction to tobacco and provide assistance in quitting.  Of course, since this is aimed at teens and young adults, we’re mainly using social media formats for this intervention strategy.

Project Quit Kickoff

August 30th, 2013

Tobacco is one of the most difficult addictions to break. A successful tobacco quitter can make on average 10 attempts before they’re able to finally kick the habit. This week we launched Project Quit, a new initiative developed in partnership with the Arizona Smokers Helpline a.k.a. ASHLine to showcase the tobacco quit process. 

Project Quit follows 4 tobacco users for 30 days and records their journeys to quit using tobacco.  The stories are compelling and emotional as they showcase the struggles and successes of quitting tobacco. Project Quit participants allowed a professional camera crew into their homes to film segments at the beginning, middle and end of the 30 days. They also recorded daily confessionals via web cams about the quitting process that included calls with ASHLine quit coaches. Also highlighted in the project are interviews with an addiction specialist who guides viewers through the quitting process.        

You can see each of their stories unfold on the Project Quit website and on our Facebook page. Click on each of the links to learn more about the project and to find resources that can help you or someone you know to quit using tobacco. We’re excited to launch Project Quit and applaud the participants for wanting to quit- and for sharing their experiences with AZ.  One of the successful participants is an ADHS employee- you’ll need to watch to find out who.

Smoke Free Arizona at 6

July 25th, 2013

Our Smoke Free Arizona program turned 6 last month.  Voters approved the Act back in November of ’06 by a few percentage points.  The Initiative language gave us a super-short turn-around time and we turned the key on the program by May of ’07.  Implementation of the Initiative was smooth from the get-go and compliance with the voter approved law has been very good- as you can see in our most recent Annual Report.  There’s a lot of detail in the report but one of the take-home stories is that compliance at bars and restaurants is pretty good and complaints are down in that sector.  Complaints from other kinds of businesses continue- so our program focus shapes around improving compliance in that sector.

Men’s Health Week Time to Think about Our Health

June 13th, 2013

This week is Men’s Health Week – the worldwide event happens every year before Father’s Day calling attention to the issues that affect men’s health. Many groups take the opportunity to talk about men’s health – we should be thinking about our health every week.  The top health issues that impact men’s health are also some of the easiest issues to prevent.  Heart disease and cancer are leading causes of death for men.  The best way to fight heart disease is exercise and sensible eating.  Our Healthy Living website has some interesting ideas on being active and choosing healthy foods. 

If you’re 50 or older or at higher risk, make a pledge to yourself and your family get checked for prostate and colorectal cancer. Men’s Health Week is the perfect opportunity to schedule an appointment.   

Stress also leads to health problems in men, including depression.  If you’re suffering from depression, it’s harder to be physically active and eat well. Sometimes a chat with a professional can put you back on track or a doctor may prescribe medication to help put your life back in balance. Most employers offer an Employee Assistance Program that will offer free or low cost access to a mental health professional.  The parity law also makes your regular health insurance provide access to mental health care. 

If you’re still smoking, stop.  Every puff of a cigarette or cigar takes time off your life. Nicotine is a highly addictive substance – quitting isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. If you need help, call the ASHLine at 1-800-556-6222. 

Finally, consider getting a physical this year to identify hidden health conditions.  If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your family.

Employee Wellness Standards Locked In

June 11th, 2013

The Fed’s issued their final regulations for worksite wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act this week.  The final rules are designed to incentivize workplaces to develop and execute health promotion programs.  The goal is to improve health and wellness among workers and to limit growth of health care costs moving forward. 

The regulations outline standards what they call “health-contingent wellness programs” which basically reward employees who meet a specific standard related to their health.  For example…  worksite wellness programs could provide a reward to folks who don’t smoke (or that decrease their use of tobacco).  Employers can also reward those who achieve a health-related goal like a specified cholesterol level, weight, or body mass index. 

The rules also include what they call “participatory wellness programs”.  These are programs that reimburse for the cost of membership at a gym, that provide a reward to employees for attending health education seminars or that reward employees who complete a health risk assessment.  The final rules will be effective for health “plan years” beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014.  Here’s the link to the “inside baseball” regulations in the Federal Register.