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DHEC Helps South Carolinians Kick the Habit

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) reminds smokers and tobacco users that the Great American Smokeout (GASO) on November 17 offers the perfect opportunity to take advantage of cessation resources available through the S.C. Tobacco Quitline.

Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, GASO encourages smokers to quit for 24 hours and to make a plan for quitting permanently. DHEC’s S.C. Tobacco Quitline, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, can help South Carolinians with one-on-one telephone coaching, web-based and text message support, assistance developing a personalized quit plan, and free nicotine replacement therapy to eligible callers.

“For a decade, DHEC’s statewide Quitline has provided free tobacco treatment and cessation counseling services to nearly 100,000 tobacco users in South Carolina,” said Sharon Biggers, director of DHEC’s Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control. “Our agency is committed to promoting and protecting the health of all South Carolinians by helping tobacco users quit, preventing tobacco use and reducing the exposure to secondhand smoke.”

S.C. residents get free help

All South Carolinians who call the Quitline are guaranteed at least one free session with a trained quit coach and receive a Quit Kit. Callers who are uninsured, underinsured, are on Medicare or Medicaid, or are under age 18 are eligible for up to five free sessions with a quit coach, and pregnant/postpartum tobacco users can get up to 10 free sessions.  Online enrollment and 24/7 hours of operation have been introduced this year to increase accessibility.

“Anytime is a good time to quit, but the Great American Smokeout is the perfect opportunity to turn over a new leaf,” said Biggers. “Call today and quit for keeps.”

Smokers seeking assistance can reach the S.C. Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), or for services in Spanish, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569).

 10 Years of Quitline Success:

  • 110,841 calls received
  • 37% had no health insurance
  • 21% had Medicaid
  • 32% remained tobacco-free after 7-months
  • 52% were tobacco users with a chronic condition, such as asthma, COPD, diabetes, coronary artery disease or cancer
  • 45% had a co-occurring mental health condition, like depression or anxiety, or a substance use disorder

For more information on the S.C. Tobacco Quitline, visit the DHEC website.

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November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Family Caregiver Month

By Michele James
S.C. Dept. of Health & Environmental Control
Division of Healthy Aging

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month and Family Caregiver Month. Given the close relationship between the two observances — many with Alzheimer’s are fortunate to have committed caregivers — it seems natural for them to occur during the same month.

Raising awareness about Alzheimer’s

The Division of Healthy Aging is partnering with the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and evidence-based messages about risk reduction.

From 2000 to 2010, South Carolina’s older adult population grew by 32.1 percent, putting the state in the top 10 fastest growing older adult populations.  South Carolina has the 6th highest Alzheimer’s disease rate in the nation.  In 2015, 17.3 percent of South Carolinians 65 and older had Alzheimer’s  disease; by 2025 the percentage will go up to 48.1 percent.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, a general term used to describe various diseases and conditions that damage brain cells. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Other types include vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia. In some cases, a person may have more than one type and are said to have mixed dementia.

The most important risk factors — age, family history and heredity — can’t be changed, but emerging evidence suggests there may be other factors we can influence. Research has found the health of the brain is very closely tied to the health of the body, particularly the heat.  They have found conclusively that high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity all confer greater risk for cognitive decline. However, evidence also suggests that combining good nutrition with mental, social and physical activities may have a greater benefit in maintaining or improving brain health than any single activity.

‘Take Care to Give Care’

November is National Caregivers month and the theme is “Take Care to Give Care.” There are 90 million caregivers in the United States who provide full-time or part-time care for someone with an illness, injury or disability. Caregiving has its rewards, but it can be physically and emotionally taxing.

Meeting the needs of others can mean that caregivers neglect their own wellness by not getting adequate rest or proper nutrition. Studies show caregivers are twice as likely as the general population to develop chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes asthma and other health problems due of prolonged stress.

So this November let us take the time to show our appreciation for caregivers and encourage them to take care of themselves.  Here are some things caregivers can do to relieve stress and look out for themselves:

  • Work hard to maintain personal interests, hobbies and friendships.
  • Allow yourself not be the perfect caregiver. Set reasonable expectations to lower stress.
  • Delegate some caregiving tasks to other reliable people.
  • Take a break. Short breaks, like an evening walk or relaxing bath are essential.
  • Don’t ignore signs of illness. Take Care to Give Care!

For more information/resources on caregiving, please visit: cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/resources.htm

For specific information on caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease visit the SC Alzheimer’s Association Chapter at alz.org/sc or call the toll free number 1-800-272-3900.

Also, please visit the Alzheimer Association Training and Education Center to find free online courses training.alz.org/home.

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A salute to America’s veterans

The land of the free and the home of the brave. While there are myriad reasons why America is able to lay claim to such a noble and enduring affirmation, few of those reasons rise above the role our nation’s military plays in securing our freedom.

Today, Veterans Day, we celebrate those who have gallantly and selflessly fought for and defended our country, whether during war or peace. Each year on November 11, America takes the time to say “thank you” and display proper respect and honor for the many men and women who have served so faithfully in the U.S. armed services.

We do not take their service lightly; they are indeed the wind beneath our wings. And on this day, we say to all veterans: We salute you.

In the spirit of Veterans Day, we are recognizing members of our DHEC team who have served in the military. View our “Veterans Day 2016 — Career of Service” photo album created in their honor.

 

cigarettelitterbeach

Cigarette Litter Reduction Pilot Study: Folly Beach

Is it possible to reduce cigarette litter along a stretch of beach by educating people about the perils of tossing butts on the ground and enhancing options for disposing of the waste?

That’s the question DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) tackled over the past year through a pilot project conducted along a short stretch of a South Carolina beach.

Monitoring cigarette litter at Folly Beach

The project began in 2015, when OCRM received a grant from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct a cigarette litter reduction pilot study on Folly Beach in Charleston County. The pilot strategy involved targeted education and enhancement of cigarette litter disposal options. Additionally, OCRM monitored cigarette litter on the beach both before and after the project began in order to estimate its impact.cigarettelitterfacts

In late 2015, the team began designing educational materials, including flyers and foldable beach ashtrays, to increase public awareness and encourage proper disposal of cigarette litter. These materials were distributed at businesses on Folly Beach from June through September 2016.

In January 2016, new cigarette receptacles were installed at 15 walkovers on Folly. Previously installed receptacles were often used for disposal of non-smoking-related litter, which resulted in the receptacles becoming clogged. The new receptacles, made of sturdy PVC material, included an opening just wide enough to fit a cigarette butt.

The results: A reduction in cigarette litter

Monitoring events were conducted in September 2015 before implementing the project strategy, and in September 2016 after implementation.

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While there are a number of factors that influence the number of cigarette butts encountered on the beach on any given day, including tidal and weather conditions,  a comparison of the 2015 and 2016 post-Labor Day monitoring results shows that approximately 200 fewer cigarettes per person-hour were collected in 2016 than in 2015. In total, nearly 10,000 cigarette butts were removed from the 0.25-mile monitoring area over the course of this study. For more information on this pilot study, visit the project webpage.

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Best Chance Network: Much-Needed Access to Breast, Cervical Cancer Screening

Trenessa K. Jones, DSL
Best Chance Network Director
Division of Cancer Prevention & Control

Although Breast Cancer Awareness Month is winding down, the need to continue proactive efforts to raise awareness about the disease and urge people to get screened remains.

To that end, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Best Chance Network (BCN), along with its many partners, will continue to do what they have been doing for 26 years: educate the public on the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings and help those who cannot afford to get screened.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 3,820 South Carolina women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 690 will die from the disease this year.

BCN, which is administered by DHEC’s Cancer Prevention and Control Division, offers breast and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to women who have no health insurance or only have hospitalization insurance, who are between the ages of 30 and 64, and who meet certain income guidelines. The BCN program partners with more than 450 health care providers in the state to coordinate cancer screenings for these under-served women. The program also offers diagnosis and treatment, data tracking, public education and more.

Since its inception, BCN has provided more than 220,000 breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for eligible women, assisting nearly 11,000 this past year alone.

The most recent South Carolina Central Cancer Registry data (2009-2013) indicates that more than 70 percent of women in South Carolina are diagnosed at an early stage, when the cancer is most treatable. In 2013, the South Carolina breast cancer incidence rate was 125.9 per 100,000 women ranking SC 28th out of 50 states and Washington, DC. The mortality rate was 22.4 per 100,000 women. SC ranked 21st out of 50 states and Washington, DC.

Early diagnosis is paramount: The earlier breast cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat. That is BCN’s goal: to help women in South Carolina gain an edge in their battle against cancer — and win.

Visit the DHEC website for more information on BCN.