Tobacco-Free Bill encourages agencies to reach out

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After the new bill was signed with more strict regulations on smoking, agencies have stepped forward to offer avenues of assistance for those who desire to completely quit smoking.

Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

Cigarette smoking has been marketed for years. Many remember when TV first came on, and many programs had the host or others smoking freely during live broadcasts often portraying it as ‘cool’ or the ‘in’ thing to do.

Today, however, with technology and decades of research, people are discovering just how detrimental nicotine can be to the body.

Effective July 1, 2019, Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill that requires all local school boards to develop and implement a comprehensive tobacco-free policy banning the use and distribution of any tobacco product or nicotine vapor product. The legal age for anyone to purchase tobacco is now 21. Because of these founding facts, area agencies are trying to help people stop smoking altogether.

Gina C. Roberts is the Regional Health Coordinator and coordinator of the Virginia Tobacco Control Program. She is also part of the Division of Prevention and Health Promotion in the Office of Family Health Services with the Virginia Department of Health. She has provided helpful information about a campaign that the Tobacco Control Program is implementing throughout Virginia.

In fact, many schools are implementing this program because of the new tobacco-free school law.

Said Roberts, “They want to make sure their staff and faculty have the services needed to quit tobacco. And, the campaign is an easy way to share the message.”

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Tobacco Control Program (TCP)  and Quit & Stay Quit Monday (QSQM) are partnering to offer a free smoking cessation program called ‘The Quit Monday Campaign.’

This campaign is being launched with 50 large employers throughout the state in order to promote the tobacco cessation services in Virginia. The Tobacco Control Program is inviting companies to participate in this exciting new health initiative.

The Quit Monday Campaign has two goals: to encourage smokers to quit with motivational messaging and resources and to increase awareness and use of the Virginia state quitline – Quit Now Virginia.

Companies are being provided free promotional materials, checklist for guidance on how to deliver the Quit Monday Campaign at their worksite, a Digital Promotion Calendar for a recommended schedule to promote certain graphics each week and free support.

In order to participate, the following is required: Deliver Quit Monday promotions through at least three communication channels with digital promotions every Monday, distribute an employee post-survey and complete an employer process post-survey.

“We are launching this campaign in 50 large employers throughout the state, and we would love to have others participate,” Roberts said. “I hope you will consider this great new initiative to keep your employees happy and healthy. We are anticipating that this campaign will encourage more people to call Quit Now Virginia.

Many parents have said, “I wish I had never started this terrible habit. My kids see me and I’m afraid they will follow in my footsteps; I do hope someone can help us who really want to quit.”

One daughter lovingly told her dad, “Daddy, would you quit smoking so you will be with me until I’m old too?”

“If we can get a few more people to quit tobacco, it’s all worth it,” J. D. Carlin, a Prevention Specialist at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare and a part of the CPPT and Coalition Team, said.

Interested individuals can contact 434-944-3356 or email Gina.Roberts@vdh.virginia.gov for more information.

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