Tobacco-free LeFlore County Coordinator, BJ Barnes said Gov. Mary Fallin’s Executive Order to ban tobacco use on all state properties is a historic announcement that sets the stage for continued proactive efforts to improve the health of LeFlore County residents.
“We stand ready to assist in providing any local resources that will help state agencies implement this order in LeFlore County,” Barnes said.
Barnes noted that his organization has a number of programs in place to inform and educate the public about the toll tobacco use takes on all LeFlore County residents, and to provide cessation assistance. These projects include: 24/7 Tobacco-free Schools, Tobacco-free Worksites, Students Working Against Tobacco and promotion of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline.
“Tobacco use is Oklahoma’s leading cause of preventable death,” said Barnes. “And when it comes to secondhand smoke, there is no safe level of exposure. Even exposure to the lowest levels of secondhand smoke can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.”
The financial impact of tobacco is equally sobering. “The annual health care costs in Oklahoma directly caused by smoking exceed $1 billion annually,” said Barnes. “Each household pays about $548 each year in state and federal taxes from smoking-caused government expenses, whether we smoke or not.”
Barnes said state employees in LeFlore County will join these businesses and campuses that have already implemented tobacco-free worksites: Howe, LeFlore, Monroe, Poteau, Shady Point, Spiro and Talihina School Districts, Kiamichi Technology Center, Carl Albert State College, LeFlore County EMS, LeFlore County Youth Services, Inc., and Southern Star, Inc.
For more information about the governor’s executive order banning tobacco use on all state properties, visit www.health.ok.gov. For tobacco cessation assistance, visit www.okhelpline.com or call 1-800-Quit-Now (1-800-784-8669).