Friday, February 27, 2015

Jefferson County Youth Break Up with Nic O. Tine and Prepare to Kick “Butts”

“You are too clingy. You smell bad. You make me look crusty, and that is not okay.” Those are only a few of the many sentiments expressed by Jefferson County high school students as they wrote break up and rejection letters to “Nic O. Tine,” a fictional character representing all tobacco products. This interactive student-led activity helped kick off Jefferson County Public Health’s new tobacco prevention campaign called “Kiss of Death.”

Tobacco use continues to plague our youth. According to the Surgeon General, nearly 9 out of 10 people who smoke, start by age 18, and 99% start before the age of 26. Most recently, electronic smoking devices (ESDs) have been increasing in popularity at alarming rates. The CDC states that between 2011 and 2012, overall youth e-cigarette use more than doubled, and in 2013, more than a quarter million (three times the amount in 2011) middle and high school students who had never smoked regular cigarettes had used e-cigarettes. As ESD manufacturers and retailers misrepresent their products, young people are perceiving these products as a safe way to use nicotine or marijuana by young people. The Kiss of Death campaign intends to illuminate the risks of any type of nicotine addiction, including addiction caused by use of ESDs.

Prior to the campaign kick-off, during the weeks approaching Valentine’s Day, Breathe Easy (BE) Team members posted flyers around their schools reminding their peers that tobacco contains over 4,000 chemicals, including arsenic and formaldehyde, which are found in rat poison and the fluid used to preserve dead people, respectively.

Although love was in the air as Valentine’s Day approached, over 200 high school students wrote break up or rejection letters to “Nic.” Serious or funny, sad or rhymed, the letters provided a means to express their discontent with unhealthy, abusive, and dangerous relationships with tobacco. One student wrote, “I can’t breathe when I am around you,” and another said, “You cost too much money.” The BE Teams helped with organizing and facilitating this activity during their schools’ lunch hour in order to educate, involve, and inspire their peers.

BE Teams are youth clubs working on tobacco prevention efforts in their schools and communities. Supported by their high schools and Jefferson County Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention Initiative, BE Teams educate community members about the problem of tobacco and advocate for sustainable solutions, including policy change.

Kiss of Death campaign events will help the BE Teams gain momentum for National Kick Butts Day on March 18, 2015. Kick Butts Day is an annual day of activism empowering youth in local communities to “stand out, speak up, and seize control” against tobacco use and the targeting of youth by tobacco companies. To honor this national day of activism, Jefferson County youth are hoping to speak in front of their local city councils to provide a youth perspective on the tobacco epidemic and present potential local best practice solutions. Youth will also be involved in cigarette butt pick-up activities to clean up public spaces of harmful cigarette litter. With nearly $8.5 billion dollars devoted to advertising and price discounts, the tobacco industry still heavily targets youth. In the words of one student rejecting tobacco and the industry’s tactics, “There is someone else, his name is responsibility.”

Helpful Resources:
  • Learn more about youth tobacco prevention
  • To learn more about Kick Butts Day and to get ideas about encouraging youth to speak up, visit www.kickbuttsday.org
  • Explore helpful fact sheets from the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids about the tobacco industry marketing to kids. 
  • If you or someone you know needs help with breaking up with “Nic O. Tine.” consider some of the following FREE resources: 
    • For telephone support, coaching and resources to help you or a loved one become tobacco-free; call the Colorado QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The QuitLine also offers web-based support at www.coquitline.org. This free service provides information and tools to develop your own personal plan for quitting. 
    • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment offers www.TobaccoFreeCO.org, an online web hub that connects visitors to a variety of resources and topics including cessation services and information on preventing secondhand smoke exposure and youth tobacco use. 
    • COQuitMobile is a free text-based program that places you on the path to a life free from tobacco. 
    • Attend a free tobacco cessation group hosted by Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge on Tuesdays at 12:00 p.m. This is a six week drop-in group that provides adults who want to quit smoking with tools and support to achieve their goals. (You do not need to attend all six weeks in order to participate.) 
    • You may also visit the Thinking of Quitting page on the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Website for a list of additional resources and videos that will encourage and help you to quit.
To get involved in local tobacco prevention efforts, visit www.tobaccofreejeffco.com, email tobaccofree@jeffco.us or call 303-275-7555.

Celebrate Healthy Food Choices: National School Breakfast Week

Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) wants all Jefferson County children as healthy and strong as possible in order to make the grade this school year! National School Breakfast week from March 2-6, 2015 is right around the corner. The NSBW 2015 theme, “Make the Grade with School Breakfast” is about understanding and encouraging the learning connection between healthy breakfast and good grades, attendance, and less visits to the nurse’s office.

JCPH understands the importance of fostering a healthy diet and making healthy food choices for children from day one. Our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program can get answers to your health and nutrition questions. WIC helps mothers make infant feeding choices and provides breastfeeding support, children's growth checkups and referrals to other health services. Additionally, you can get one-on-one help to learn how to make healthy meals for your family to ensure everyone in your family is getting the proper nutrition and therefore achieving optimal health.

For toolkits, handouts, activity sheets and more information and fun activities, visit the School Nutrition Association’s National School Breakfast Week webpage.

For information on the JCPH WIC program visit our Women, Infants and Children webpage.

“Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” . . . JCPH Celebrates March as National Nutrition Month

Jefferson County Public Health’s (JCPH) Nutrition Services dietitians and WIC educators (Women, Infants and Children) are celebrating National Nutrition Month by offering the latest in nutritional guidelines and educational information, as well as healthy recipes for you to “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” as this year’s theme encourages. “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” is meant to encourage individuals to make food and physical activity plans that focus on lowering calorie intake, making smart and empowered healthy food choices and getting daily exercise in order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health. These are all things JCPH dietitians and WIC educators work with helping individuals and families to achieve on a daily basis. The importance of making informed food choices and creating healthy eating and physical activity habits for overall health cannot be over emphasized. Take a step towards a healthier lifestyle today and visit the JCPH Nutrition Services web page or our social media sites to get some new educational handouts and healthy recipes for you and your family! Mix together with a little physical activity, and you’ve got the recipe for a healthier Jefferson County!

There is a wealth of information on the internet and through various social media applications regarding nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight. However, nothing quite compares to the expertise and practicing knowledge of registered dietitian nutritionists. Wednesday, March 11, 2015 is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) Day. The day offers an opportunity to recognize RDNs for their excellence and commitment to helping people create and enjoy healthy lives.
  • Jefferson County Nutrition Services provides nutrition education and counseling, the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program and more. For more information or to enroll in the WIC Program, call our appointment line at 303-271-5780.
  • Visit the National Nutrition Month website for more information, meal suggestions, fun quizzes and games about nutrition and more.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tobacco: The Kiss of Death

Arsenic is the poison used to kill rats. Did you know cigarettes and chew have that, too? Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) is launching its ‘Kiss of Death’ multi-media campaign to educate youth and young adults about the harmful chemicals found in tobacco products and tobacco smoke.

According to the Surgeon General, nearly 9 out of 10 people who smoke, start by age 18, and 99% start before the age of 26. A recent study published in January 2015 found that teens believe that “light smoking” poses little or no risk. Through the ‘Kiss of Death’ campaign, JCPH hopes to shed light on the fact that even one cigarette or dip is too many.

“Misperceptions about the harms of tobacco still exist, and youth and young adults are continuing to become addicted. By raising awareness that tobacco products contain deadly chemicals like arsenic and formaldehyde, we hope teens and young adults will be discouraged from ever starting,” explained Zach Dunlop, Youth Engagement Specialist from Jefferson County Public Health’s Tobacco Prevention Initiative.

During the month of February, the ‘Kiss of Death’ campaign will be advertised digitally on Pandora and Facebook, and print versions may be viewed on beverage coasters at local bars and restaurants. Campaign messages will also reach youth and young adults at several area high schools and Red Rocks Community College. High school students will play off of the campaign’s edgy ‘kiss’ graphic during the week of Valentine’s Day by hosting events aimed to educate fellow students about the harms of tobacco use. These events will give youth the opportunity to interact with the campaign by writing “break-up” letters to the fictional character “Nic O. Tine” and spreading the word through social media using #KissofDeath.

Learn more about the toll of tobacco and how to get involved in local tobacco prevention efforts at www.tobaccofreejeffco.com.

If you or someone you know needs help with breaking up with “the Kiss of Death”, consider some of the following FREE resources:
  • For telephone support, coaching and resources to help you or a loved one become tobacco-free; call the Colorado QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The QuitLine also offers web-based support at www.coquitline.org. This free service provides information and tools to develop your own personal plan for quitting.
  • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment offers www.TobaccoFreeCO.org, an online web hub that connects visitors to a variety of resources and topics including cessation services and information on preventing secondhand smoke exposure and youth tobacco use.
  • COQuitMobile is a free text-based program that places you on the path to a life free from tobacco.
Attend a free tobacco cessation group hosted by Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge on Tuesdays at 12:00 p.m. This is a six week drop-in group that provides adults who want to quit smoking with tools and support to achieve their goals. (You do not need to attend all six weeks in order to participate.)

You may also visit the Thinking of Quitting page on the Tobacco-Free Jeffco Website for a list of additional resources and videos that will encourage and help you to quit.

Have questions about sexual health? Go Ask TISH!

Jefferson County Public Health’s Family Planning program reminds adults and youth that preventing unplanned pregnancies is one of the most important things you can do for your reproductive health. In addition, February happens to be National Condom Month and a perfect time to remind everyone that safe sex means more than using birth control, it also means using a condom. Of all the birth control available, the condom is the most frequently used method that not only has a high contraceptive rate (98% effectiveness rate for male condoms and 95% for female condoms, when both used correctly and consistently) but even protects against the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. 

While various forms of birth control may prevent pregnancies, they do not prevent the spread of HIV and other STIs. If you are sexually active and have not been using a condom, you are at risk. Get tested at our clinic location in Lakewood. Call 303-239-7078 to schedule an appointment. If you have any questions and need answers, text 720 446-TISH (8474), the Text Information Sexual Health line is confidential and answered regularly by one of our public health nurses.

Anti-vaccination movement taken to task over measles outbreak

From January 1 to January 23, 2015, 68 people from 11 states were reported to have measles. As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most of these cases are part of a large, ongoing outbreak linked to an amusement park in California. The U.S. has already seen a record number of measles cases in the past year, with 644 cases from 27 states reported to CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in 2014. This is the greatest number of cases since measles elimination was documented in the U.S. in 2000.

Those infected with measles aren't the only ones suffering amid the ongoing Disneyland outbreak, as our partners at the National Public Health Information Coalition have recently shared, the anti-vaccination movement is enduring its fair share of criticism from the media. Here are just a few media excerpts:

Time magazine: “Less than two weeks into 2015 come the year’s first stories about the latest victims of the nation’s declining vaccine rate,” referring to the Disneyland outbreak. “And this time, ground zero is the self-proclaimed Happiest Place on Earth, which is in danger of becoming the decidedly less consumer-friendly Most Expensive Disease Vector on Earth.”

Los Angeles Times: “the anti-vaccination movement is a corner of the United States that is backsliding into medieval ignorance. Alarmingly, it finds a welcoming embrace in some of our most affluent and ostensibly educated communities, such as Marin County. Entertainment figures such as the starlet Jenny McCarthy and the talk show host Katie Couric have played their role in spreading the darkness.”

Bloomberg News: published an article about how measles may now be in the U.S. to stay, 15 years after it left.

Vox Media noted that this article, quoting Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, topped its list of most-read articles. "Women in the developing world know the power of (vaccines). They will walk 10 kilometers in the heat with their child and line up to get a vaccine, because they have seen death," said Gates. "We (Americans) have forgotten what measles deaths look like."

Jefferson County Public Health’s Immunization Program urges everyone to stay up-to-date on immunizations, including the Mumps, Measles, Rubella (MMR) vaccine. Please call 303-239-7078 to schedule an immunization appointment.

The Public Health Strategy for Protecting Our Communities from Ebola

Public health agencies across the nation are working diligently to monitor travelers from Ebola-affected countries to protect the health of the public. In Colorado, the traveler monitoring program set up by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began in August of 2014. Travelers from the three Ebola affected countries (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone) are closely monitored as soon as they arrive in the United States at one of five international airports (New York, Virginia, Atlanta, Chicago or Newark). While Jefferson County Public Health, in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), continues to monitor a small number of travelers who have returned from Ebola-affected countries, there are currently no suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in Jefferson County.

View the JCPH Active Traveler Monitoring Program Fact Sheet

CDC/CDPHE and JCPH maintain efforts to ensure we have the most effective strategy possible to respond to a potential case of Ebola in Jefferson County. CDPHE and all of our County partners are strongly committed to protecting your health. Ongoing local public health activities include:
  • Tracking and monitoring travelers returning to Jefferson County from affected West African countries;
  • Supporting hospital preparedness efforts with education and information as they plan and prepare to medically support an individual with suspected or confirmed Ebola;
  • Improving and refining County-wide protocols to effectively handle a suspected or confirmed case of Ebola in Jefferson County.
Download the JCPH Ebola Disease Fact Sheet

For more information about Ebola, please view the CDC web site .
Information is also available on the CDPHE web site.

For more information contact Jefferson County Public Health’s Emergency Preparedness Program at
303-271-8394 or email Christine Billings at mailto:cbilling@jeffco.us.