Redwood Falls Gazette
  • New rule bans tobacco use at all daycare, foster care homes

  • A new ordinance approved by the Redwood County Board of Commissioners during its meeting this past Tuesday creates a 100 percent ban of smoking in licensed daycare and foster care locations in Redwood County.
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  • As of Nov. 1, those who operate daycare facilities or have their homes used for foster care, are no longer going to be able to smoke in those houses.
    A new ordinance approved by the Redwood County Board of Commissioners during its meeting this past Tuesday creates a 100 percent ban of smoking in licensed daycare and foster care locations in Redwood County.
    The proposal was initially introduced by the Start Noticing program, which is a coalition working to eliminate the harmful effects of tobacco use and exposure, especially among vulnerable youth, through community engagement, education and policy implementation.
    Start Noticing of Cotton-wood, Jackson and Red-wood counties, received a tobacco-free communities grant from the Minnesota Department of Health.
    As part of that grant, Start Noticing conducted a survey in all three of the counties it represents among its foster care providers, with the intent to use the survey data to make a determination about smoking.
    Ann Christensen of Start Noticing, who primarily works in Redwood County, the surveys were mailed out to those license foster care providers. Of the 44 foster care providers who received the survey, 26 were completed and used in the study.
    According to some of the survey results, 82 percent of those who were asked believe smoking should not be allowed at all in foster care homes, with the same 82 percent believing the risk of secondhand smoke harm is always in the home.
    The survey also reported 89 percent of those who responded to the survey do not smoke in their home.
    In other words, said Christensen, the impact of this ordinance is going to be minimal, but she added it is still important to establish the rule as it addresses the serious issue of secondhand and thirdhand smoke.
    So, what is secondhand and thirdhand smoke?
    Secondhand smoke is the smoke breathed in by others in the area of a smoker, and according to the Minnesota Department of Health exposure to secondhand smoke in youth can lead to a variety of ailments, especially related to the respiratory system. Asthma can be exacerbated by secondbhand smoke, and it has been a known cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
    Thirdhand smoke is the residual contimination from cigarette smoke toxins that can linger on surfaces long after cigarettes have been extinguished.
    According to the William Mitchell Public Health Law Center, studies have shown these toxins can remian for for days, weeks and even months.
    A public hearing was conducted Tuesday to allow the public to speak in favor of or against the ordinance.
    There was no one form the public in attendance.
    According to Erin Simmons of the American Lung Cancer Society, even though Redwood County is one of the first to discuss this ordinance, there are goiong ot be a number of other counties that follow the trend over the next year.
    Page 2 of 2 - Christensen said Redwood County is truly on the cutting edge, as it is the first county to adopt a 100 percent band both in daycare and foster care locations countywide.
    Lon Walling, Redwood County commissioner, admitted he struggled with this ordiance, adding his initial reaction was toward less government, but in the end he said in the grand scheme this is an issue that is important because it looks out for the best interest of kids.
    Christensen said this is not an issue of rights, but one of public health.
    Those who still want to smoke can do so. They just have to do it outside.
    According to the ordiance, Redwood County is going to inspect establishments under this ordinance based on the rules of state law.
    The purpose of the ordiance is to protect the public health, safety and welfare of youth by better ensuring their ability to breathe safe and uncontaminated air, to protect vulnerable populations, specificaly children, to affirm the right to breathe smoke-free air and to reduce the negative impact of seondhand and thirdhand exposure.
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