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CCTC depending on education

Sunday, January 10, 2010

(Photo)
Brown
For Kandace Brown, education is the top priority.

For three years, Brown has headed the Clay County Tobacco Coalition.

One of the organization's goals has been to create smoke-free workplaces and the dangers of secondhand smoke in them within Clay County.

In the past, the coalition has conducted meetings with various government agencies in the county and others.

But through it all, ongoing efforts to educate people within the community has been a top priority.

"This is not a down-your-throat policy drive," Brown told The Brazil Times. "I don't want the public to think we want to force a policy just to pass a policy. It's the education. It's going to have to be the education. That is the drive. That is the motivation behind it."

In May 2009, Northview High School teacher Jon Crooks and Clay County resident Mike Mayle purchased what was Yesterday's Pub.

The new business, Coach and Cleater's Timeout Sports Bar and Grill was established as a non-smoking entity.

Brown said she hopes other restaurants and businesses in the county will consider doing the same heading into the new year.

"That is the only business, to my knowledge, that was once a smoking establishment that has gone smoke-free and has seen success," Brown said.

Brown admitted some small business owners have expressed concern that business will decrease by making the smoke-free move. She said the majority of business owners she has spoken with tell her they would be interested in going smoke-free but add they want all establishments to go smoke-free.

"The playing field would be level," she said.

Brown said statistics she has show establishments going smoke-free do not see a plunge in sales.

Brown said other organizations have gone smoke-free in the past year, pointing to the Clay County 4-H Fairgrounds as an example.

Still, she believes further education is the key.

"Our hope is the establishments, through education, will go smoke-free on their own," she said. "I want people to be educated and then do the right thing.

"With ongoing education, the situations are evolving and changing. The trend being witnessed is organizations and businesses are leading this change on their own."

Brown said the coalition has not ruled out going to agencies at the city or county level to propose a smoke-free ordinance in the future.

"We're not ready for an ordinance at this time," she added. "But there are some who believe we are, some within the community, either coalition members or community supporters. There are people who just say it is time to jump forward and let's make this happen.

"I just believe education is the answer."



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