Baltimore County Now
Topics Include Snow Operations, Quitting Smoking and the County's Legislative and Budget Priorities in Annapolis
The January edition of Baltimore County’s half-hour cable television public affairs show, “Hello Baltimore County,” highlights the following topics:
- Winter Storm Operations – Get the perspective from behind the snowplow from two of Baltimore County’s Snowfighters.
- 2016 General Assembly Priorities – Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz details the County’s legislative and budget priorities for this year’s legislative session in Annapolis.
- Get Help to Quit Smoking – Baltimore County’s Health Department has resources to help you quit – for good!
To view streaming video of the show, go to the Hello Baltimore County page.
In addition to online access, the program runs several times per week on Cable Channel 25, in Baltimore County, at the following times:
- Mondays: 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m.
- Tuesdays: Noon, 9 p.m.
- Wednesdays: 11 a.m., 4 p.m., 10 p.m.
- Thursdays: 1 p.m., 8 p.m.
- Fridays: 11 a.m., 6 p.m.
- Saturdays: 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.
- Sundays: 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m.
Kamenetz Applauds Success of Strict Enforcement Measures
The selling of tobacco products to minors in Baltimore County has been dramatically reduced due to the diligent work of the Baltimore County Department of Health.
According to Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene data in 2014, over half of Baltimore County retailers sold tobacco products to minors, more than any other jurisdiction in the State. In 2015, that number has been reduced to 15 percent.
“Most smokers begin the habit as teens. Preventing teenagers from unlawfully purchasing cigarettes will have positive, long-term health implications,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “I applaud Dr. Branch and his team for their hard work that is being met with real success.”
To achieve the reduction in sales to minors, the Department aggressively increased enforcement operations by employing students under the age of 18 to attempt to purchase cigarettes at over 700 of the County’s tobacco retailers. To date, the Department has performed over 3,900 attempted youth purchases. These youth are under the supervision of Health Enforcement Officers, some of whom are retired public safety personnel. Pairing the teen with an adult supervisor ensures that the teen will never have to testify in a case. Considering this an extremely important investment in the health of our County, the Administration has made a commitment to fund the majority of enforcement activities with County resources.
Economic Incentives Removed
Additionally, this past summer the County redirected its focus to remove economic incentives of selling tobacco to minors by passing 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 starting with a warning, followed by a $500 fine, with subsequent fines of $1,000 and $1,500 upon continued non-compliance. Also, after the second offense, the County now refers these repeat offenders to the State Comptroller’s office so that their license to sell tobacco products may be suspended or revoked. Thus far, the County has made over 65 referrals to the Comptroller and has been the only county in the State to take advantage of this opportunity. The Comptroller has held 20 hearings thus far and these repeat offender retailers are receiving suspensions of their tobacco licenses for five to 10 days. The other 45 cases are pending and have not yet been scheduled.
“We are making great strides in the County to keep our kids from developing a lifelong addiction to nicotine,” said Director of the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. “Nearly all smokers in Maryland begin tobacco use when they are under the age of 18 so eliminating access to this deadly product is key.”
For information on tobacco cessation resources, call the Baltimore County Department of Health’s Tobacco Use Prevention Program at 410-887-3828.
Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE
Director, Department of Health and Human Services
Health Officer and Director, Department of Health
Are you someone who likes to start the New Year on a promising note? Have you fallen into the trap of making goals or resolutions that you cannot meet? Well, Baltimore County has a number of tools that may be just the thing for you!
If you live, work, or play in Baltimore County, use the following tips to become a STAR and shoot towards a healthier you. If some of the tips don't apply to you, don't sweat it. Instead, share them with someone you know who could benefit from them.
If you are thinking about quitting or want to quit, Baltimore County has a number of different programs at various times and locations that may work for you. And, even better our smoking cessation classes are free.
Take the Test
What you don’t know could hurt you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 13 to 64 know their status. You can get free, anonymous testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases at a Department of Health clinic. Sharing this information is great, spreading an infection is not.
Adopt a Pet
Owning a pet can help reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, it’s a great antidote for loneliness that can also increase opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization.
There are numerous pets in Baltimore County that are in need of someone who will love and care for them. Consider opening your heart and home to an adoptable pet.
Remember to Schedule an Appointment
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Women can take care of their cervical and breast health by scheduling an annual mammogram and routine Pap test. These screenings may be available free of charge to income eligible women. Men, take care of the women you love, by reminding them to schedule these live-saving tests.
For more information about these tips, contact the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services by calling 410-887-BCHD (2243).