Communities in Saline County have few laws addressing smoking and employ few strategies to enhance safety for non-motorists, according to a study by the county health office.
Gayle Thomas, health office administrator, reported the survey results to the Saline County Commission Wednesday morning during its regular session. She said the survey is required as part of the health office's core functions contract with the state.
Lack of smoke-free areas
"Our major health risk in Saline County, from this survey, is there are no smoke-free areas," said Thomas, adding the chief preventable cause of premature death in the nature is from smoking cigarettes. Nearly one in five deaths in 1995 was hastened by smoking, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services.
"Smoking is a problem for the county and the state, but I didn't expect all 'nos,'" Thomas said. "I was kind of shocked with that."
She said this is the first health office survey she is aware of that addresses tobacco policies in the county. Thomas mentioned a community survey conducted about three years ago by a former health office administrator, but was unsure of its content.
Thomas suggested the commissioners write to each of the communities in the county, not just the five that responded to the survey to let them know the results.
The survey found no laws in Marshall, Malta Bend, Mt. Leonard, Slater and Sweet Springs went beyond state laws in prohibiting smoking in public buildings, malls, restaurants, unlicensed child care centers or private work sites. One of four cities responded it has laws in place which are stronger than state statutes for prohibiting the sale of tobacco to youth and requires retailers to hold a license to sell tobacco products. Thomas would not say which city it was.
On a positive note for health, four cities responded that their schools prohibited tobacco on school property and at school-sponsored events.
The health office survey also addressed physical activity and nutrition. It found most communities have at least some sidewalks, but they are not well maintained.
A negative finding was that most communities do not employ pedestrian and cyclist safety measures such as crosswalks at all major intersections and roads with adequate shoulders, although four responded that city roads are well maintained.
Under the heading of safety, two communities reported adequate lighting for exercise after dark, two reported regular law enforcement patrols in high-crime areas and all five reported regulations prohibiting abandoned buildings and unattended dogs.
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