Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Clatsop County Board of Commissioners on April 24 approved the second step of a two-phase initiative to make the county's facilities smoking- and tobacco-free – which a spokesman says will help make the county a healthier place for all residents.

 Tom Bennett, County Community Relations Coordinator,  says the board-adopted ordinance extends a smoking and tobacco-free campus designation to the County Courthouse, Sheriff's Office/Jail and Marine Patrol boat slip in Astoria, and the Animal Shelter and Parole and Probation offices in Warrenton. The ordinance, which prohibits the use of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco anywhere on county property, takes effect May 24. Violations would be classified as Class B violations and carry a fine of up to $300.

Phase One of the policy  was adopted by the board last August and covered the county office complex at 800/820 Exchange St., the Judge Guy Boyington Building and the Public Works complex.

Under the policy, a small area outside the south entrance of the County Courthouse is exempted for the use of court jurors after county staff met with the Circuit Court and they expressed concerns over protecting those jurors from having public contact during smoke breaks when trials are underway.

By approving the spot on the lower south entrance the court clerk can keep an eye on the jurors who go outside to smoke.

Clatsop County is one of only three Oregon counties to adopt a campus-wide tobacco policy. By making county facilities tobacco-free, the new policy, developed by the Clatsop County Public Health Department and Tobacco Education and Prevention program, not only creates healthy worksites for employees and healthy places for visitors, it helps show our youth that tobacco is not part of a healthy life, according to Steven Blakesley, Health Promotion Specialist.

While most people in Clatsop County don't use tobacco, it still has a significant impact on the community. Each year more than 1,500 people suffer from tobacco-related illness and 78 people die as a result of tobacco use. The economic burden of tobacco use is $27 million annually in medical costs and lost productivity.

Even more significantly, more than a third of Clatsop County 11th graders either smoke or use smokeless tobacco.

"Tobacco is a leading preventable cause of death and disease in the county and it also is a source of fires, litter and damage to buildings and ground – and it is all preventable," Blakesley said. "We each have a role to play in creating healthier, more accessible spaces and Clatsop County is taking an important step forward in making our community even better."

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