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Smoke free NC widely supported

New UNC study on the recent smoking laws:

UNC poll: N.C. smoke-free policies supported by large majority

CHAPEL HILL – On January 2, 2010, North Carolina became the first tobacco-producing state in the nation to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.

Now, the latest poll conducted by the Survey Research Unit at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Global Public Health shows the ban is supported by 72.2 percent of adults in the state.

The poll also found 25.8 percent of the population opposed the ban, and 2.1 percent were undecided. Proponents were more likely to be nonsmokers (85.5 percent vs. smokers 30.7 percent), women (80.3 percent vs. men 63.5 percent), and more highly educated (82.1 percent vs. lower education 60.2 percent). The highest support was among registered voters (74.3 percent vs. 23.3 percent).

In addition, a large majority – 72.1 percent – said they would support a law that requires all indoor workplaces and public places to be smoke-free, while 25.8 percent opposed such a measure and 2.1 percent were undecided.

The new law followed growing concern over risks related to smoking, including the 2006 Surgeon General’s report on the health consequences of involuntary exposure to second-hand smoke. In North Carolina, it is estimated that second-hand smoke resulted in $288.8 million in excess medical costs in 2006 (adjusted to 2008 dollars).

Concern was voiced during the debate on the legislation that it would have a deep, negative economic impact on restaurants and bars. However, the new poll suggests the opposite may be true, despite the challenging economic times – 38.8 percent of adults said they dine out more since the ban took effect, 50.4 percent said it has made no difference, and only 10.6 percent said they go out less often.

People who said they dine out more tended to be nonsmokers (50.6 percent vs. smokers 2 percent) and college educated (44.8 percent vs. 31.3 percent). Questioned about how often they frequent bars, 16.7 percent said they are now going out more, 70.6 percent stated the ban made no difference, and only 12.5 percent reported going out less. Again, those frequenting bars more often since the law went into effect were more likely to be nonsmokers (21.4 percent vs. smokers 2.2 percent).

The poll was conducted March 9 to April 8, 2010, by the Survey Research Unit, part of the UNC biostatistics department. A random sample of telephone numbers, stratified by region and income levels, was used to interview 700 North Carolina adults. The margin of error for the main questions in the poll was approximately plus or minus 5 percent.

For more information about the Survey Research Unit and details on this poll, visit http://sru.sph.unc.edu/tarheelhealth.html.

For more information about the smoke-free policies in the state of North Carolina, see http://tobaccopreventionandcontrol.ncdhhs.gov/smokefreenc/

UNC revamps citizen soldier effort

After a review of the program prompted by complaints to Sue Myrick’s office and an eye-opening story that questioned its efficacy, UNC has announced a restructuring of its Citizen Soldier program. Here’s the release:

Goodale to lead Citizen-Soldier program restructuring focusing on behavioral health

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is significantly restructuring the Citizen-Soldier Support Program to focus primarily on the behavioral health needs of returning combat veterans and their families.

Bob Goodale, a retired grocery executive and state commerce official, will lead these efforts as director of the Citizen-Soldier Support Program, based in the University’s Howard Odum Institute for Research in Social Science. He has directed the Citizen-Soldier program’s behavioral health initiative since 2007.

The Citizen-Soldier program, a demonstration project, develops approaches for engaging communities to support National Guard and Reserve members and their families before, during and after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan. It has received several federal appropriations totaling about $9.8 million since 2004. The University has been reviewing the program since early this year after Congresswoman Sue Myrick received a complaint about its effectiveness.

“Behavioral health is Citizen-Soldier’s most successful component, so we’ll focus on that strength in providing assistance to soldiers coming back from active duty along with their families,” said Dr. Tony Waldrop, vice chancellor for research and economic development. “Taking this step, under Bob Goodale’s leadership, is consistent with the recommendations emerging from an internal review and guidance from the program’s National Advisory Council.”

Starting Monday (Nov. 16), Goodale, a retired Harris Teeter chief executive officer and former deputy secretary of the State Department of Commerce, will succeed Peter Leousis, who will continue as deputy director of the Odum institute.

Waldrop said the Citizen-Solider program is expanding the behavioral health initiative to further develop a network of civilian behavioral health providers. So far, the program has trained more than 2,000 providers to work with returning combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injury and their families. He said the program’s behavioral health efforts have benefitted from collaborations with the Area Health Education Centers, based at the University’s School of Medicine that works with nine regional centers to bring health sciences faculty and students to North Carolina communities to provide care and services.

Next year, nearly 4,500 National Guard soldiers from North Carolina’s 30th Heavy Combat Brigade will return from deployment in Iraq. The Citizen-Soldier program’s goal is to put in place a statewide behavioral health “safety net” before they return home, Waldrop said. A Web-based, searchable database of civilian behavioral health providers is scheduled to launch in January.

As part of the restructuring, Waldrop said the Citizen-Soldier program also would:

· Phase out its own “Building Community Partnership” efforts and redirect that funding to expanding the behavioral health initiative.

· Move a training program for the Army OneSource initiative, “Building Community Partnerships,” to the Jordan Institute for Families in the UNC School of Social Work under the leadership of Dr. Gary Bowen, Kenan Distinguished Professor. That shift leverages existing strengths in the social work school and follows a recommendation from the internal review committee.

· Reduce several staff positions and re-engage its National Advisory Council in support of the program’s work.

The changes follow a report by Chancellor Holden Thorp to the University’s Board of Trustees in September, as well as recommendations and ongoing deliberations of an internal review committee created by Waldrop earlier this year. The review committee, which initially worked for six months in producing its report, and a financial audit by the University were prompted by the complaint received by Myrick.

The internal review committee was reactivated in August and continued to deliberate about the program into last month. Committee members included two retired military officers who were familiar with the program and its goals, as well as administrators from UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC General Administration.

Background: http://www.citizensoldiersupport.org/