NRCHS to host public hearing on tobacco ordinanceLUVERNE — Nobles-Rock Community Health Services (NRCHS) will host a public hearing next month on proposed changes to its tobacco ordinance. The ordinance has not been updated since it was written in 1999.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
LUVERNE — Nobles-Rock Community Health Services (NRCHS) will host a public hearing next month on proposed changes to its tobacco ordinance. The ordinance has not been updated since it was written in 1999.
Health educator Paula Anderson told NRCHS board members Wednesday afternoon that a loophole in the state-wide Freedom to Breathe Act allowed people to sample products in tobacco stores. The new ordinance will eliminate that potential, and further defines what tobacco or a tobacco product is to be more in line with the state’s definition. It also sets a minimum age of 16 for people to be able to sell tobacco, tobacco products or tobacco-related devices.
Changes in the language to the ordinance were based on a recently adopted ordinance in St. Cloud, said Anderson.
“There are water pipes … used to smoke tobacco product, heated through burning embers of charcoal,” she said. “It’s basically a tobacco bong, and these are starting to show up in tobacco retail shops.”
The public hearing is set for 1 p.m. June 9 at the board room of the Nobles County Government Center.
Changes to the NRCHS Tobacco Ordinance are taking place just as Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act of 2010 on Tuesday. The law takes effect Aug. 1, and ensures that new, dissolvable tobacco products that are candy flavored and resemble mints and breath strips are taxed and regulated as tobacco; requires all tobacco products and tobacco-related devices to be sold behind the counter to reduce youth access; and prevents the sale of new tobacco products and e-cigarettes to youth.
In other action, the board:
- Set 1 p.m. June 9 as the date for a public hearing on the Environmental Health Licensing ordinance. The newly developed ordinance combines what used to be separate ordinances for the food, beverage and lodging industry, manufactured homes, recreational camping areas, public non-community transient water systems and public pools.
“There aren’t too many differences between this and what we had before,” said NRCHS Director Brad Meyer, adding that the information included in the ordinance is mandated by the Minnesota Department of Health.
- Was notified of an elevated blood lead case in Nobles County. The affected child resides in a rental property in Worthington. Public Health Nurse Cindy Frederickson reported that a Minnesota Department of Health lead inspector will visit the home this week to test paints and soils in hopes of determining the source of the lead. If lead is found in the home, an abatement order will be issued to the property owner.
- Received a report from public health nurse Barb Navara regarding the current tuberculosis caseload. There are 31 latent TB cases ongoing at this time in Nobles County, along with one adult and one child being treated for active TB.
- Learned that one of the students attending Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, who has a confirmed case of mumps is from the Nobles-Rock Community Health Services area. Because class is still in session at the college, the Iowa Department of Public Health is managing treatment and monitoring isolation of the affected students . This will result in no monitoring by NRCHS.
- Approved an Environmental Health Delegation Agreement.
- Received an update on state funding for the NRCHS. Meyer reported that as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, there were no cuts earmarked for public health. However, funding for the Statewide Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) will likely cease on June 30, 2011. SHIP funds were used to address chronic disease management, obesity and tobacco initiatives in Minnesota.
- Learned that the caseload for the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program has increased by 43 participants in Nobles County in the last month, while Rock County had one new participant. The total WIC caseload has reached 1,165 participants in Nobles County and 201 in Rock County. NRCHS receives a $13.50 reimbursement for each WIC participant.
- Approved an interpreter contract with an individual for a couple of East African languages. The agency contracts with approximately 25 interpreters, mostly Spanish speakers.
- Received an update on the $5,000 Statewide Health Improvement Plan grants to facilitate the Farm to School program in Luverne and Round Lake schools.