Arizona Republic Article on Maricopa Community Colleges Going Tobacco Free

October 31, 2011

Maricopa Community Colleges to ban tobacco use

Plan to urge health in Maricopa district

The Maricopa Community Colleges will ban all tobacco products next year to  help boost the health of students and staff and to keep campuses cleaner.

Smoking is prohibited in all buildings, but there are designated smoking  areas at the colleges. As of July 1, no tobacco products will be allowed on any  of the system’s 10 campuses, which include satellite sites around the Valley, as  well as the district’s two skills centers and its office in Tempe.

“This is a bold move, but it’s the right move for us,” said district  spokesman Tom Gariepy. Over the next several months, he said, the colleges will  provide help for students, staff and faculty who want to quit smoking, including  cessation classes.

Bob England, director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health,  spoke in favor of the initiative at the district’s governing-board meeting last  week. About one in four Arizonans ages 18 to 24 are smokers, a bit higher than  the national average for that age group, he said.

The initiative, announced by Chancellor Rufus Glasper this month, was years  in the making.

Michele Hamm, an exercise-science faculty member at Mesa Community College  and a member of the Wellness Maricopa group that worked on the initiative, said  the issue was first raised when voters passed a statewide smoking ban in  2006.

Read the rest of this entry »

BTCD Update: Change is in the air!

October 28, 2011

News update from the Arizona Department of Health Services Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease (ADHS BTCD):

If there is only one constant, it is that change in inevitable. This week has been eventful for BTCD. We regret to announce the departure of two team members but are also excited to announce the addition of a new program to the Bureau.

Staff Departures
Two members of our Research and Evaluation team are moving on to exciting new opportunities. Research and Evaluation Director Gowri Shetty and Epidemiologist Heather Fauland are sadly leaving BTCD for new endeavors. Their last day will be November 10th.

Gowri has accepted a position as Chief Quality Officer with Magellan Health Services. This was not an easy decision for Gowri, but one that will propel her into the next era of her career development.  In her 4 ½ years as the Research and Evaluation team lead, Gowri has helped change the paradigm of how the State of Arizona views and administers a range of public health programming, not the least of which is ADHS’ re-emerging as a national leader in tobacco control. Her contributions have been immense, and will be missed.  Please join me in wishing her a joyful, productive career and life.

Heather has accepted an offer at the Arizona Department of Education as an evaluator for their USDA Program.  While Heather has only been with us since January, she has brought many contributions to the work of BTCD and the cancer control program.  Please join me in wishing Heather a continued career of excellence and prosperity.

With two vacancies in the Research and Evaluation team, we are looking at how to best address the immediate short-term needs so as to provide continued service to our partners and the public. We’ll keep you posted with any new developments.

Advances in ADHS Integration
We are happy to announce that the HIV Prevention section will transition to become part of the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease, effective November 28th.

This move comes within the larger context whereby ADHS is seeking to optimize performance management and quality improvement, while implementing ways to provide more streamlined and effective services.  Prevention of HIV infection clearly fits with the primary function of Public Health Prevention Services, and as a result of medical advances, has been transformed from a uniformly fatal disease into a long-term or chronic illness. In addition to streamlining prevention efforts and resources, moving HIV Prevention to BTCD will benefit all of our prevention programs from both the expertise that HIV Prevention brings as well as what BTCD can offer with our prevention and our social marketing expertise. Please join me in giving the HIV Prevention Team a warm welcome. 

We ask for your patience and understanding as BTCD goes through some new organizational changes. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Thank you and have a great weekend!

Altria Group to layoff 15% as cigarette sales decline

October 28, 2011

BC-US–Altria Group-Layoffs,3rd Ld-Writethru, US

By Associated Press
October 27th, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Marlboro maker Altria Group Inc. said Thursday that it will cut the number of salaried workers at its cigarette business and related service subsidiaries by 15 percent as cigarette sales continue to decline industrywide.

The owner of the nation’s largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, announced plans to trim $400 million in annualized costs by the end of 2013 as it reported quarterly earnings Thursday, which would include about $300 million in employee separation costs and additional reductions in spending.

Altria, based in Richmond, Va., would not say how many people would be impacted by the layoffs. The company said employees that will lose their jobs will be informed by mid–December and most will leave the company by late February. The reductions announced Thursday do not include hourly manufacturing workers.

Altria has 10,000 employees across the U.S., including about 4,600 in Virginia. Cigarettes make up the bulk of its business. Read the rest of this entry »

Psych Risks No Higher With Chantix, FDA Says

October 25, 2011

By Emily P. Walker,
Washington Correspondent, MedPage Today
Published: October 24, 2011

WASHINGTON — Smokers who take the smoking-cessation drug varenicline (Chantix) are no more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric events than those who are using a nicotine patch to quit, according to data from two large government studies released Monday by the FDA.

However, that doesn’t mean that the quit-smoking drug might not be to blame for mood changes including hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts or actions that don’t end in hospitalization, the FDA cautioned in adrug safety communication posted to its website.

Varenicline works by blocking nicotine’s effect on the brain, and has been shown to help smokers avoid cigarettes for as long as a year compared with placebo.

Soon after the drug was approved in 2006, some patients taking varenicline reported changes in behavior soon after they started the drug, including depression and suicidal behaviors. The FDA confirmed dozens of suicides among people taking the varenicline, and hundreds of cases of mood changes. Read the rest of this entry »

Maricopa Community Colleges Announce Plan to Go Smoke and Tobacco Free

October 18, 2011

The Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college systems in the country, today announced that all of its properties will be smoke- and tobacco-free, effective July 1, 2012.

Tempe, AZ (PRWEB) October 17, 2011- The Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college systems in the country, today announced that all of its properties will be smoke- and tobacco-free, effective July 1, 2012. The program is part of a new Districtwide initiative called Maricopa Breathe Easy that is designed to promote health among the students, faculty members and staff of the Maricopa Community Colleges.

“As an educational institution, we have an obligation to lead the way in matters of health awareness and education,” said Chancellor Rufus Glasper, who made the decision to ban tobacco products. “When this policy goes into effect, our district and its 10 colleges will join hundreds of other colleges and universities across the country in what is a growing trend.”

Read the rest of this entry »