Delaware Trends

photo of contest entry
Delaware Greenways' 2012 Smoke-Free Sculpture Campaign allowed community groups to represent their reason for being smoke-free through the decoration of cigarette-shaped sculptures. This sculpture, titled Secondhand Smoke Travels, was created to demonstrate how secondhand smoke can affect non-smokers in public places.

Delaware ranks among the top of American states taking action on tobacco control. Over the past five years, the state has received high marks on its tobacco control policies from the American Lung Association (ALA), the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and other anti-smoking organizations.  Highlights include:

  • Delaware is one of only six states meeting minimum spending levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to the ALA’s State of Tobacco Control report.
  • In a 2011 report on how states were using funds from the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement, Delaware was rated fourth best in the nation. 

In addition to these policies, the IMPACT Delaware Tobacco Prevention Coalition released its 2011 Plan for a Tobacco-Free Delaware, which includes a goal to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke through four objectives:

  1. Enforce existing policies prohibiting tobacco use on school property and at school-related events.
  2. Sustain and enforce the Delaware Clean Indoor Air Act.
  3. Increase the number of indoor/outdoor locations and events that are declared and enforced as tobacco-free zones.
  4. Increase the number of individuals who do not allow smoking in their homes or vehicles.

Most recently, the Delaware General Assembly amended its Clean Indoor Air Act to include electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), prohibiting use of such devices in indoor enclosed areas to which the general public is invited or in which the general public is permitted. Nationally, e-cigarettes are being studied more extensively, including an analysis by the FDA which found known carcinogens as well as diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical found in anti-freeze, in the product. A new Harvard University study also raises safety issues relating to flavored e-cigarettes and the impact they might have on respiratory health.

In 2014, the Delaware General Assembly passed HB241, a bill to amend the youth access to tobacco law to include e-cigarettes. The bill added a definition for tobacco substitutes to include e-cigarettes. Signed into law by Governor Jack Markell on June 12, 2014, it is now illegal to sell or distribute e-cigarettes to minors. While e-cigarettes have yet to be studied extensively, analysis by the FDA found known carcinogens as well as diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical found in anti-freeze, in the product.

“A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says use of the devices among middle and high school students tripled between 2013 and 2014,” from Use of E-Cigarettes Rises Sharply Among Teenagers, Report Says by Sabrina Tavernise for The New York Times. Read more here.

The bill cites a recent study done in Delaware, which found that, of minors smoking for the first time, those who use e-cigarettes are more likely to continue smoking than those using traditional products. Preventing minors from purchasing e-cigarettes will decrease the likelihood that they will begin or continue to smoke, as well as their chances of suffering negative health effects. Delaware joins 27 other states that have banned the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Most recently, the Cities of Rehoboth Beach and Lewes have included e-cigarettes in their smoking bans on the beach and boardwalk.

According to a recently published report by the CDC, about 7 in 10 teens are exposed to e-cigarette advertising on TV, in print, online, and at retail outlets. Though the report doesn’t show a direct link between advertising and teen e-cigarette use, it does raise concerns about advertising methods used to target youth.

Delaware’s Increasing Outdoor Smoke-Free Policies

To protect the general public from the dangers of second-hand smoke, local governments, workplaces, and institutions of higher education are going further: outdoor smoke free policies prohibiting smoking in public spaces such as parks, playgrounds, and beaches are being implemented.

Additionally, local resources provide important information to Delaware consumers and health care professionals.  The November 2015 edition of the Delaware Journal of Public Health—a publication of the Delaware Academy of Medicine and the Delaware Public Health Association—is dedicated to providing information on tobacco prevention and control in Delaware. Featured articles focus on concerns and potential risks associated with e-cigarette use, the state’s tobacco control program, and millennial generation perspectives on the future of ending tobacco use in Delaware.

Local Examples

In spring of 2014, Rehoboth Beach commissioners voted to ban smoking on the boardwalk and to limit smoking on the beach to designated areas. Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, Fenwick Island, and guarded beaches at two Delaware state parks have also implemented similar policies. Additional efforts that aim to drive down tobacco smoke exposure and lives lost include:

  • On January 1, 2013, a smoking ban went into effect across the state’s government campuses. This ban prohibits the use of all tobacco products, including, cigarettes, cigars, and, e-cigarettes, on government campuses. 
  • Tobacco use is being increasingly banned from university campus vehicles, parking lots, and sports complexes.
  • Healthcare workers are required to ensure that they do not smell of smoke when returning from lunch, protecting patients from allergic reaction and irritation.

 

photo courtesy of Coastal Connection