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September 22, 2018

Rural Health Network Asks How Does Tobacco Look On You?


OSWEGO, NY – Working in collaboration with the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County and the Oswego County Health Department, The Rural Health Network of Oswego County is stepping up the effort to decrease point of sale advertising and to raise awareness of tobacco advertising and promotional materials aimed at the target population of women between the ages of 14 to 24.

In Oswego County, the most recent statistics show that 75% of women in the Prenatal Care Assistance Program smoke, and 28% of mothers smoke during pregnancy, a figure that is the highest in this region and more than double that of the state average.

Danielle Wert (left), coordinator of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, meets with Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator (center), and Abby Jenkins, program coordinator for the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County, to discuss the agency’s agenda to address the issue of tobacco use among women ages 14 to 24 in Oswego County.

Danielle Wert (left), coordinator of the Rural Health Network of Oswego County, meets with Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator (center), and Abby Jenkins, program coordinator for the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County, to discuss the agency’s agenda to address the issue of tobacco use among women ages 14 to 24 in Oswego County.

According to Abby Jenkins, program coordinator with the Tobacco Free Network of Oswego County, smoking among women 14 to 24 is of epic proportions and needs to be addressed for the health of our county.

“Tobacco use is the number one most preventable cause of death. Thanks to the NYS Clean Indoor Air Act and the federal Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act we have come along way in addressing tobacco use, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. The tobacco industry spends more than $12 billion annually on advertising and promotional materials, the biggest contributor to youth engaging in tobacco use. The tobacco industry will not stop trying to sell their products. Because of this, we need to continue our efforts to reduce the use of tobacco,” said Jenkins.

Diane Oldenburg, senior public health educator with the Oswego County Health Department, echoed those thoughts and is happy to partner with the Tobacco Free Network and the Rural Health Network in addressing the issue of tobacco use in Oswego County.

“According to the 2010-2013 Oswego County Community Health Assessment, Lung cancer rates for women in Oswego County during 2001-2005 were 82.2 per 100,000 people as opposed to the 53.8 per 100,000 New York State incidence rate. According to NYS Department of Health data, 17.9% of the adult population in the US smoked in 2009, 18% smoked in NYS and an astounding 24.7% were smoking in Oswego County. This project will help raise awareness and provide resources to women ages 14 to 24 and will decrease that extremely high percentage,” said Oldenburg.

She added that participation in the project reflects the department’s commitment to address the three health issues that they are currently focusing on:  chronic disease, physical activity and nutrition and reducing tobacco use.

To help accomplish their goal of decreasing point of sale advertising and to raise awareness of tobacco advertising and promotional materials aimed at the target population of women between the ages of 14 to 24 the Rural Health Network, the Tobacco Free Network and the Oswego County Health Department have established a precise plan of attack.

Danielle Wert, coordinator of the Rural Heath Network explains, “We have outlined a number of projects for the upcoming months that educate and empower women ages 14 to 24 to develop a healthier lifestyle by avoiding tobacco use. These projects include:

The use of pamphlets, posters and electronic media to educate women on the physical effects of tobacco use during pregnancy and on their appearance.

Enhancing the use of the NYS Smokers’ Quit Line that provides telephone counseling for those wishing to cease tobacco use.

Bringing women in the target group together to socialize with other women and learn new, healthier activities.

Outreach to the target group through monthly events to raise awareness of the negative affects of tobacco use.

Presentations to non-profit organizations, and other community groups to educate and empower them to assist in addressing the problem of tobacco use by this target group in Oswego County.

Reaching out to health care providers and human service organizations in an effort to engage them and their staff in our mission.”

“To ensure the effectiveness of these projects we will be using a technique called the 5A’s (Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, and Arrange follow-up), as a brief intervention technique for tobacco control whenever possible during interactions with women,” Wert added.

One project that the Wert and her partners are especially excited about is the use of state-of-art progression software that will show the physical affects of tobacco over time.

“Research has shown that verbal warnings regarding future health problems caused by tobacco use not very effective with youth. However, being able to actually show someone how his or her appearance changes as a result of tobacco use will have a far greater impact. We will have this software with us at our presentations and at our appearances at various community events over the next five months. The software also has the capability to display the affects of obesity and sun exposure,” said Wert.

The collaborating agencies will also draw upon the strong relationships that they have fostered with numerous other organizations and health care providers throughout Oswego County that have direct access to the target audience of women age 14 to 24.

“Women have been extensively targeted in tobacco marketing,” added Jenkins. “Such marketing is dominated by themes of an association between social desirability, independence, and smoking messages conveyed through advertisements featuring slim, attractive, and athletic models. As early as the 1920s, tobacco advertising geared toward women included messages such as ‘Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet’ to establish an association between smoking and slimness. The positioning of Lucky Strike as an aid to weight control led to a greater than 300% increase in sales for this brand in the first year of the advertising campaign. These types of marketing tactics have continually been furthered by brands such as Virginia Slims. Addressing this issue and altering the way women perceive tobacco use is a challenge, but it is one that we are dedicated to achieving.”

The How Does Tobacco Look on You? initiative will begin in May in recognition of World No Tobacco Day, May 31.

Established by the World Health Organization, the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system, whose initiatives include controlling the epidemic of tobacco among women with particular attention to the need to protect women and girls from the harmful effects of tobacco marketing.

For more information on the How Does Tobacco Look on You? initiative, or to schedule a presentation for your group or organization, contact Wert at 315-342-0888 ext. 1457.

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