Tobacco Prevention and Education Program

The program is a member of the State Tobacco Education and Prevention Partnership (STEPP) in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).  Serving Routt and Moffat counties through partnerships with a variety of Yampa Valley organizations, the program is involved in multiple tobacco use educational activities such as:
  • preventing children, youth and adults from initiating any tobacco use;
  • providing resource materials to health and day care providers, worksite wellness committees, schools and other businesses; 
  • eliminating exposure of secondhand smoke through implementation of Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act and appropriate trainings;
  • reducing tobacco use among groups that are at high risk or disproportionately affected;
  • promoting tobacco cessation through one-on-one counseling or in group environments within a  class format;
  • communicating relevant information about tobacco issues to public, health professionals, partners and policy makers;
  • publicize free nicotine patch and customized counseling services of QUITLINE (1-800-QUIT-NOW) and internet-based QUITNET ( );
  • and encourage tobacco- and smoke-free lifestyles for area residents.


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Impact of Tobacco Use in US and Colorado

Smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disease in the US. Since 1964, 12 million Americans have died because of tobacco.  Tobacco continues to kill more people each year than the combined deaths of aids, fire, accidents, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, homicides and suicides. 1200 people die every day!!  In the US, about one in five adults smoke. Overall, Americans spend an enormous $150 billion a year, 1 billion alone in Colorado, dealing with tobacco-related illnesses.


What is Tobacco Smoke and Smokeless Tobacco

Tobacco Smoke contains over 4000 chemicals, 40-60 of which are known as Class A carcinogens. These include tar, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, urea, benzene, lead, nitrosamine, arsenic, etc.

Nicotine, the most harmful ingredient, can act as an “upper” and speed up body functions and act as a “downer” and affect moods. With a half-life of about 60 minutes, your body needs more nicotine to feel good.

Smoking harms nearly every organ of your body.  It causes diseases and worsens your health.  The list of diseases caused by smoking has grown even longer.  This list now includes most cases of lung cancer, cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, pancreas, kidney, bladder and cervix.  Because cigarette smoke damages the cells lining your blood vessels and heart, smoking also causes atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, strokes and aortic aneurysms.

Smokeless Tobacco:  Chew, dip, snuff, spit, plug, wad, pinch and/or quid is NOT a safe alternative to cigarettes.  The industry markets the product as ‘smokeless tobacco’ but in fact it is every bit as addictive as cocaine or heroin. The amount of nicotine absorbed from chewing tobacco is 3 to 4 times the amount delivered by a cigarette.   Chewing tobacco contains 4.8 mg of nicotine in every gram as compared to 1.8 mg in cigarettes.  One can of snuff equals the nicotine equivalent of four packs of cigarettes.  So, anyone going through a tin of chew or snuff every four days is like a “pack-a-day” heavy smoker. 

Smokeless tobacco users drastically increase their risks of oral cancers of the lip, tongue, cheeks, gums, floor and roof of the mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus.  It can also cause cancers of the stomach, pancreas and prostate.  Changes inside a user’s mouth such as sores or white or red patches can be seen in just seven days after starting to use chew/snuff.


Physiological Effects of Tobacco 

  • Tobacco users experience more frequent and more severe colds because of decreased immune responses.
  • Nicotine increases level of LDL and damages the cells lining your blood vessels and heart, resulting in cardiovascular disease.
  • Smoking reduces oxygen in blood and exposes the heart to carbon monoxide.
  • Heart rate and blood pressure increase, blood vessels get smaller, lung function is lowered, physical endurance and fitness are reduced.
  • Cigarette smoking accounts for approximately 30% of cervical cancer deaths in the US, the second most common cancer in women worldwide.  Female smokers have a two-fold increase in the incidence of the disease over non-smokers.  If women smoke, their immune system has a harder time fighting human papillomavirus (HPV) infections.  Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are associated with infection where the HPV virus sometimes contributes to abnormal cell growth on the cervix’s surface. 
  • Cancer was among the first disease to be caused by smoking.  The risk for cancer increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke and the number of years you smoke.
  • Reduction of life of average smoker is 13-14 years.


Audiences and Programs

Child Care Providers and Preschools

The main message for this age group is that secondhand smoke is not an annoyance but a real health risk. The latest Surgeon General’s Report ( from July 2006 states that the health consequences of involuntary exposure to tobacco smoke is a serious  Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease, sudden infant death syndrome, low-birth-weight, asthma, bronchitis and other serious illnesses and is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths each year in the United States.  Recent scientific evidence links SHS exposure to breast cancer in pre-menopausal women and as a toxic air contaminant.  health hazard.

Secondhand Smoke: It doesn’t take much. It doesn’t take long.

If a person smokes near your child, the child breathes in secondhand smoke. We know this is very dangerous.

  • Children have greater exposure than adults because pound for pound of body weight they breathe more air than adults do. 
  • A child standing 20 inches from a burning cigarette can inhale 10 times more cancer-causing chemicals than the smoker.
  • SHS smoke has prolonged toxic effects; it sticks to skin, hair, clothes, rugs, walls, drapes, household items, everything in a car.

Secondhand smoke can lead to:

  • childhood asthma, ear infections, lung problems,
  • behavior and learning problems,
  • low birth weight babies and a
  • higher risk of breast cancer in younger pre-menopausal women.

Protect Your Children

Opening a window in the car or smoking in another room in the house will not protect your children. This is especially important during the winter months when people spend the majority of their time indoors.  A smoke-filled room takes hours to properly ventilate.  

  • Choose not to smoke around your children. Don’t let others smoke around them either.
  • If you do smoke, share your struggles about trying to quit.Kids underestimate how hard it is to give up smoking.
  • When both parents quit, the odds of their children becoming regular smokers goes down by about 40 percent!
Remember,no amount of secondhand smoke is safe.

Elementary Youth

One of the many things we do to decrease youth initiation with tobacco is to help you enforce current laws. The Colorado Tobacco-Free Schools Law (CRS 25-14-103.5), enacted in 1994 and revised in 1998, aims to create a safe, supportive and protective environment for students, staff and visitors to publicly-funded K-12 schools, nursery schools, daycare centers and Head Start programs. The law prohibits tobacco use of all forms on school property, including buildings, playgrounds, parking areas, in school vehicles and at school-sponsored events.

The statute reads that the board of education of each school district shall adopt appropriate policies and rules which mandate a prohibition against the use of all tobacco products (cigarettes and spit tobacco).  Signs need to be posted to indicate that the school is tobacco-free and to ensure compliance. It is critical to enforce the concept of tobacco-free and not just smoke-free.

Endorsed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, Tar Wars is a program designed to prevent adolescent tobacco addiction and help fifth-grade students understand the tactics employed by tobacco companies to persuade them to use tobacco products. Several area schools have successfully implemented the program.  Call 871-7639 for assistance. Activities also promote healthy choices annually during Red Ribbon Week in October.

Secondary Youth

One in three teenagers who start smoking will die prematurely from a smoking-caused disease and more than 90% of all adult smokers started while they were in high school.  Each day, more than 4000 youth under 18 smoke their first cigarette.  That adds up to more than one million new smokers each year.  Too many people who start “social smoking” believe it is only a short “phase” in their lives yet many who begin the habit become tobacco dependent adults.  In fact, 50% of those who smoke as adolescents will continue smoking for at least 16-20 years!

Attention is directed to awareness of new products marketed to youth, particularly chew products.   We know that about 80% of people who smoke and “quit” go back to smoking!  Only 16% were non-smokers 4.3 years after successfully quitting. It is important to promote youth prevention and education because it is best to never start!

Youth can join GET R!EAL!, Resist! Expose Advertising Lies, is Colorado’s youth-led movement against the tobacco industry.  This is an industry that has long targeted teens with images that entice them to smoke or chew.  Youth can discover how they are being hoodwinked and they could start a Get R!EAL youth coalition at their school our community.  Visit or call Grand Futures Prevention Coalition at 879-6188.

NOT (Not On Tobacco) is a ten session voluntary quit smoking program for high school students ( NOT uses a multiple-strategy approach to help teens stop or reduce smoking, increase exercise, improve nutrition, and develop life management skills. Upcoming classes are planned for your area.  Contact the Tobacco Prevention Program at 871-7639 or your school counselor or nurse.     

Youth can also apply for the Youth Tobacco Control Advocate Scholarships.  The State Tobacco Education & Prevention Partnership (STEPP) at the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment is sponsoring its second annual journalism contest, challenging high school and college students statewide to write positive tobacco-related news stories.  Students who have an original tobacco education story published in a high school or college newspaper, a local newspaper, a newsletter or a magazine are eligible to compete. Some suggested angles for a story include discussing the harms of tobacco, living a tobacco-free lifestyle, tips on quitting, secondhand smoke issues, chewing tobacco, and tobacco disparities in vulnerable populations. These articles must be published during the 2006-2007 school year.

High school students have two opportunities to win: December 22, 2006 or May 11, 2007.  The first place recipient at the high school level will receive a $5,000 scholarship; second place, a $3,000 scholarship and third place, a $2,000 scholarship. Competition guidelines and eligibility requirements for high school students can be found on the Colorado High School Press Association’s website at

College Age

Amazing progress has recently been made on lowering the smoking prevalence rate among all groups with the regrettable exception of one: the college aged 18 to 24 years. As other age groups show trends of kicking the habit, this age group has demonstrated steady increases.Prevention has largely focused on younger adolescent and high school students and the efforts to get people to quit have focused on older adults, while this middle group has not been receiving either message. Knowing this, the tobacco industry is taking advantage of this vacuum and marketing to them at the tune of $22.5 million every day!

Over one quarter of surveyed students reported starting to smoke while in college.  Almost half of current college smokers do not consider themselves smokers nor do they believe they are addicted.  The increased smoking rates were found in all types of colleges and with all levels of academic competitiveness.

Students at Colorado Mountain Community College (CMCC) will soon be able to enroll in  a “Late Start” course on tobacco cessation.  Plans are underway to develop this course and make it available to students earnest about quitting.  College students may also apply for a Youth Tobacco Advocate Scholarship.    A first place article receives $5000, 2nd place is $3000 and 3rd place is $2000 and is applied to a Colorado institution of higher learning.  College students can visit the College QuitLine site for more information at and the deadline for college entries is May 11, 2007.

Adults: Pregnant Women

Smoking is the most modifiable risk factor for poor birth outcome.  Smoking during and after pregnancy is associated with:

  • Reduced fertility          
  • Miscarriage
  • Preterm delivery
  • Stillbirth
  • Low birth weight
  • Placental Abruption
  • Cleft Lip and Palate
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • ADHD

Mothers in both Routt and Moffat counties have higher rates of low birth weight infants when compared to state rates.  Pregnant mothers have increased motivation to quit but there are high relapse rates with 6- to 12- months postpartum.

If a pregnant woman can quit smoking early in pregnancy, (<16 weeks), her risk is similar to that of a non-smoker.  Nicotine is a teratogen linked to negative physiological and behavioral changes in children.  If tobacco is used during pregnancy, there could be impaired physical, emotional, cognitive capacities like eye contact, sucking and head turning.   Children are also at increased risk of learning disabilities like poor reading skills, attention deficits and hyperactivity and may be at risk for school failure, lowered self-esteem, and alienation.   Utero exposure may also make children at risk for diabetes and obesity.

Diabetic Adults

It is known that smoking complicates the health and quality of life of diabetic patients.  Numerous cross-sectional and prospective studies have shown enhanced risk of micro- and macro-vascular disease and premature mortality with diabetics who are smokers.  Blood pressure increases and lipid profiles are altered.  The risk for cardiovascular disease among smokers with diabetes is up to 14 times higher than that for smoking or diabetes alone. Smoking is also a risk factor for various types of neuropathy.


We know that lifelong smokers have a one-in-two chance of dying from a smoking-related illness and each smoker who dies loses an average of 12-15 years of potential life.  Yet, we also know that within just 20 minutes of quitting, the body begins to heal.  At 2 weeks to 3 months, circulation improves and lung functions increases by 30%.  After one year of quitting, a smoker’s chance of having a heart attack is cut in half and after 5 years, the risk of a stroke is reduced to that of a non-smoker.

There are three good reasons to quit tobacco:  your health, your family and friends and your money. Smoking harms nearly every organ of your body and the list of diseases caused by smoking grows even longer.  Your local VNA encourages you to get healthy. For a quit kit or further questions call 871-7639.


Studies show that smokers cost employers thousands of dollars more then nonsmokers, approximately $3400 per employee per year.  These costs include


  • higher health and dental insurance premiums,
  • absenteeism,
  • tardiness and lost or decreased productivity,
  • fire insurance,
  • premature death,
  • disability and survivors’ benefits,
  • workers’ compensation claims,
  • increased liability, and
  • the damaging effects of secondhand smoke on non-smokers. 

Because employers have an important role in helping tobacco users quit, this program collaborates with area worksites and their wellness programs by offering Preparing To Quit and/or the American Cancer Society’s You Can Quit classes. This program assists employers to implement smoke-free policies in company vehicles and when on the job.  We also help employers investigate their health plan coverage for reduced rates for non-smokers and the availability of smoking cessation programs.  We encourage employers to link employees to QUITLINE (1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669)) or QUITNET .  All of these practices promote a healthier workforce and an overall reduced economic burden caused by tobacco use.

For more information on Tobacco Cessation CLICK HERE


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