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Baltimore County News

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Keyword: health department

If you are looking for a cool environment with access to water and bathrooms, then Baltimore County has several “cooling centers” available where you can get relief from the heat.

During the months of May through September, Baltimore County Public Library has 19 convenient branches that are open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Residents can cool off while reading a book or enjoying scheduled events at a branch in their community. Visit the Baltimore County Public Library website to get more information on the library branch nearest you or call 410-887-6100.

Baltimore County Senior Centers are also open to the general public, regardless of age. Most locations are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents who visit these locations to get relief from the heat can watch TV, read a book or sit and relax. Visit the Department of Aging website for information on their 20 Senior Centers or call their Senior Center Information and Assistance line at 410-887-2594.

There are also other places you can go to cool off in Baltimore County:

  • Community Centers
  • Churches
  • Malls
  • Movie Theaters
  • Museums
  • Neighbor's home with air conditioning
  • Restaurants

“Residents need to know that the County has plenty of resources available where they can go to get cool,” said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of Health and Human Services.  “From libraries and senior centers to churches, movie theaters and malls, there is a place in every community where you can get relief from the heat, and I urge you to use them if you do not have air conditioning.”

To keep you and your family healthy and safe in the summer heat, use these hot weather tips:

  • NEVER leave a child or pet in an unattended car!
  • Check on elderly or chronically ill family members, friends and neighbors.
  • Stay hydrated with water or fruit juices. Also provide your pet with plenty of water and sheltering.
  • Limit outdoor activity when the temperatures and humidity are extremely high. 
  • Use sunscreen and reapply often when spending time outdoors.

Department of Health enforcement efforts continue to make significant impact

Today, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch announced that for the second year in a row, the selling of tobacco products to minors in Baltimore County has been significantly reduced due to the diligent work of the Baltimore County Department of Health. According to 2014 data from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, over half of Baltimore County retailers they visited sold tobacco products to minors, more than any other jurisdiction in the State. In 2016, that number has been reduced to 1.25 percent according to a report just released by the State.

“Thanks to good government in action, and our commitment to funding this important initiative, we have made an amazing turnaround in keeping teenagers from being able to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products here in Baltimore County, and that goes a long way toward preventing unhealthy habits with lifelong consequences,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

“The reduction in tobacco sales to minors in Baltimore County is yet another testament to public health being on the job,” said Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. “With the help of our dedicated tobacco enforcement teams, we are sending a loud message that we value our youth’s health and will stop at nothing to prevent them from gaining access to tobacco products.”

Enforcement Works

To achieve the reduction in sales to minors, the Health Department has continued to aggressively increase enforcement operations with the use of students under the age of 18 to perform sting operations. These youth are under the supervision of Health Enforcement Officers, some of whom are retired public safety personnel.  In 2016, the department conducted 4,128 sting operations on over 800 of the County’s tobacco retailers. 

In 2015, the County passed legislation to impose increased financial penalties for retailers who violate the sale to minors law and also includes the potential suspension of a tobacco license for repeat offenders. Those selling cigarettes to minors face a series of enforcement actions; the first offense results in a warning, the second offense is a $500 fine and the third offense results in a $1,000 fine. The County also refers repeat offenders to the State Comptroller’s office so that their license to sell cigarettes may be reviewed.

“The County Council is committed to continuing this very positive trend and we are grateful for Dr. Branch and the Health Department staff who have worked extremely hard enforcing our tobacco laws,” said Baltimore County Council Chair Tom Quirk.

Since the County began the aggressive enforcement efforts in the spring of 2015, it has made 274 referrals to the Comptroller’s Office, which includes over 207 tobacco retailers – a quarter of the County’s retailers. The Comptroller’s reviews have resulted in 87 reprimands and 42 suspensions of tobacco licenses to date. 

"We commend Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and his team for all they have done to virtually eliminate tobacco sales to young people in Baltimore County," said Vincent DeMarco, President of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative. "We hope every county in Maryland will follow their lead to save young people from the horrors of tobacco addiction."

Risks of teen tobacco use

“The American Heart Association applauds Baltimore County’s spectacular success in reducing youth access to tobacco products,” said Michaeline Fedder, Director of Government Relations. “90 percent of addicted smokers start before age 19 and adolescents become addicted to nicotine more quickly than adults. They are also twice as sensitive to tobacco advertising which is why, annually, the tobacco industry spends $127.5 million in Maryland alone marketing its products to kids. And, finally, researchers have concluded that early signs of heart disease and stroke are found in young people who smoke.”

 “According to the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control report, in Maryland the high school smoking rate is 8.7 percent, 27.6 percent of high school students use tobacco products and an estimated 90 percent of adult smokers begin smoking during their teenage years,” said Deborah P. Brown, President and CEO, American Lung Association of the Mid-Atlantic. “The American Lung Association in Maryland applauds Baltimore County’s law enforcement officials for their success in reducing tobacco sales to minors by retailers. The work that they’re doing is lifesaving.”

“Age of sale laws must be strictly enforced to ensure a high rate of compliance,” said Bonita Pennino, Maryland’s Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. “The work of the Baltimore County Department of Health over the last couple of years clearly shows that they understand the importance of holding tobacco retailers accountable for ensuring tobacco products stay out of the hands of our youth.”

For information on the Baltimore County Department of Health’s Tobacco Use Prevention Program and quit smoking classes, call at 410-887-3828.

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Trash and Recycling Collection Normal, Drop-off Facilities Open

Baltimore County government offices, and the District and Circuit Courts, will be closed two days next week, Tuesday, November 8 for Election Day and Friday, November 11 in recognition of Veterans Day. Health Department clinics, and senior centers will be closed, and CountyRide vans will not operate. Libraries will be open, parking meters must be fed and Baltimore County Revenue Authority parking garages will be open as usual.

Trash and recyclables will be collected according to the normal schedule.  The County’s trash and recycling drop-off facilities will be open.  Residents can log onto www.baltimorecountymd.gov/solidwaste for more information about recycling and trash collection, including schedules and drop-off center locations and hours.  Residents may also call the Bureau of Solid Waste Management at 410-887-2000.


 
 
Revised September 26, 2016