One of the best parts about doing what we do is the opportunity to work with great people doing even greater things. When that work is for the greater good, that’s even better! Tobacco-Free Mecklenburg is one of those projects. And with March 15th being National Kick Butts Day, we figured it’s every bit worth the shout-out for the effort and the cause.
Let’s be real. In a state that regarded tobacco as a vegetable until the mid-2000’s, regulating the product that for generations put food on the table, money in pockets, and family names on buildings and towns across North Carolina … well, that would seem an uphill battle at best. But here’s that greater good part. Having the moxie to stand with the numbers and say the golden leaf is now costing the Old North State and Mecklenburg County in lives and dollars; well, that’s a really big deal.
Just two years ago, Mecklenburg County rolled-out the news that parks and government property would no longer allow cigarette and tobacco use by visitors and employees. Friends and advocates consider it a first, bold step in slowing numbers like these:
From the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids:
Adults who die each year from their own smoking 14,200
Kids now under 18 and alive in North Carolina who will ultimately die prematurely from smoking
Smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, illegal drugs, murders, and suicides combined — and thousands more die from other tobacco-related causes — such as fires caused by smoking (more than 1,000 deaths/year nationwide) and smokeless tobacco use.
Smoking-Caused Monetary Costs in North Carolina
Annual health care costs in North Carolina directly caused by smoking
Medicaid costs caused by smoking in North Carolina
Residents’ state & federal tax burden from smoking-caused government expenditures
$860 per household
Smoking-caused productivity losses in North Carolina
Amounts do not include health costs caused by exposure to secondhand smoke, smoking-caused fires, smokeless tobacco use, or cigar and pipe smoking.
Kudos again to Mecklenburg’s Board of County Commissioners for giving the thumbs-up to the county ordinance and public health rule creating tobacco-free parks and smoke-free government property. And well done, public health director, Dr. Marcus Plescia, tobacco prevention and control coordinator, Kim Bayha, and Mecklenburg County’s parks and recreation boss, Jim Garges for leading the charge and for giving us the opportunity to play a role in the process. Keep kicking butts, y’all!