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To enable our partners, faith based organizations, and communities to address the holistic health of families in South Carolina. 
July/August 2021

In This Issue:
Do you know that in South Carolina, the most unsatisfactory health outcomes are consistently seen in the state’s minority communities?  With the onset of COVID, we have seen and heard how many diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, and certain types of cancer, strike and kill minority South Carolinians at higher rates than others.   In addition, tobacco use is a major contributor to the three leading causes of death among African Americans—heart disease, cancer, and stroke.  And yet, more than 700,000 SC adults smoke!  The tobacco industry continues to utilize various marketing strategies to lure e-cigarette use by our youth!  This is not good!  Hopefully, this information is alarming to you as it’s these disparities that are “robbing” and destroying our communities of good health and the goodness that we want to see in our congregations as well.  What might be done in our respective communities and congregations to change this picture for the next two months?  We must do something!  While we appreciate the efforts of our state, public and private entities, as a resident of SC there is a role that we must play in addressing these differences.

Hence, this newsletter challenges you to know more about smoking and vaping, opioid use, medication safety, and mental health, and to share just one message with and for the good of your congregation and community.  As always, know that we are here to provide consultation and technical assistance as you move forward to complete that one activity.  
Smoking & Vaping in the Age of COVID-19

The health effects of smoking are well-known. Smoking tobacco affects the lungs, reducing lung capacity and increases the risk of respiratory infections and the severity of those infections. With COVID-19 also affecting the lungs, smokers are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 outcomes and possible death. E-cigarette use also has serious short- and long-term health effects on the lungs, brain, and heart. Moreover, vaping weakens the lungs in the same way that smoking does, leading to a much higher risk for respiratory disease and possible COVID-19 complications. A survey of young people aged 13-24 years found that a COVID-19 diagnosis was five times more likely among those who vaped and seven times more likely among those who smoked and vaped.

Tobacco use in all its forms continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in both the United States and South Carolina, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths annually.  

Approximately 34 million Americans and over 700,000 South Carolina adults smoke. In addition, over half of high school students and a quarter of middle school students in both the nation and state have ever tried a tobacco product (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, and other products. Currently, 5 percent of high school students nationally and 6 percent of high school students in South Carolina smoke cigarettes. 

In early 2020, twenty percent of high school students and 5 percent of middle school students currently used e-cigarettes. A national sample of over 2,100 youth and young adults in May 2020 found that 56.4 percent of participants have changed their e-cigarette use, around one-third quit vaping entirely, another third reduced their use of e-cigarettes, and the rest switching to other nicotine and/or cannabis products. 

The rapid growth and continuing lure of e-cigarette use by young people under age 18 include effective marketing strategies, the appeal of flavors, design of e-cigarette products, the ease of access to vaping products despite state laws and policies.  The recent National Youth Tobacco Survey also confirmed that targeted educational campaigns mentioning the health consequences of vaping did positively reduce vaping in this population.
Learn More
Mothers Eliminating Secondhand Smoke (M.E.S.S.)
Since 1964, approximately 2,500,000 nonsmokers have died from health problems caused by exposure to secondhand smoke. During 2011–2012, 2 out of every 5 children ages 3 to 11, including 7 out of every 10 Black children, in the US were regularly exposed to secondhand smoke. M.E.S.S. is a program that encourages faith-based organizations to accept the challenge to address secondhand smoke by establishing maternal support groups, hosting educational sessions, and initiating other appropriate activities to reduce tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure. 
Funding is available for faith-based organizations to implement education and policy activities for their respective congregation and communities. Please contact us to learn more and to see if your organization qualifies.
Learn More
Opioid Epidemic & Tips You Can Use
In 2019, 876 people in South Carolina died from opioid overdoses, and the number of deaths keeps increasing each year. These aren’t just numbers; they’re people in our community, people we know – brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and friends in need of our support and compassion. Act now to safely store and dispose of any opioids to help protect our community from misuse, addiction, overdose, and related death.

Although extremely addictive, opioids are still prescribed for the treatment of pain after surgery, an injury, cancer, back pain or osteoarthritis. Common types of opioids include oxycodone (OxyContin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), morphine, and methadone.

Knowing how to store or get rid of medicine, especially opioids safely, can save lives! Unused medication can be harmful if taken by someone other than the person the doctor wrote for the prescription. A child or pet can be poisoned or die if they accidentally discover and take or eat medicine. Leftover or expired medicine is usually found in bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, and even purses. Make sure you safely store or dispose of unused or expired medication before it hurts someone you love. Just remember these tips:

Safe storage – All prescribed medications should be stored safely and securely. Pills should never be loose or out of the pharmacy container. Don’t share your medications with anyone. Please keep them
  • Out of sight and away from children and pets
  • Stored in a locked cabinet or on a high shelf
Safe disposal – Find safe and secure drug drop boxes by asking at local sites. Make sure to remove the label or mark out your personal information on the bottle before you drop off your medications at the
  • Pharmacy or hospital
  • Policy station
  • Sherriff’s office
  • Public Safety office
For a list of collection sites, go to  or to

If a collection site or drug dropbox can’t be found nearby, safely get rid of medication by following these steps at home:
  1. Don’t flush the medicine down the toilet.
  2. Place the unused or expired medication in a plastic bag that can be sealed.
  3. Mix the medication in the bag with dirt, cat litter, or used coffee grounds.
  4. Seal the bag and put it in the trash.
  5. Tear off or scratch out any personal information from the prescription label and throw out the container.
Following these easy steps to store and/or dispose of prescriptions help keep your family and friends safe from opioids and other medications. This is your opportunity to protect and show support for those we care about and want to help. People struggling with opioid addiction may also need someone to listen. Make sure to show compassion and understanding when assisting someone addicted to opioids. Avoid “you” statements and judgmental comments. Focus on your concern for their health and refer them to a licensed counselor to receive the best treatment for their addiction.
Where and How to Dispose of Unused Medicines | FDA
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Mental Health First Aid
Just as CPR helps an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) assists someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis and connect the person with help. A public education program, the Mental Health First Aid course, introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews appropriate supports. Becoming a first aider does not prepare one to diagnose or provide any counseling or therapy. Instead, the program offers concrete tools and answers key questions like, “What do I do?” and, “Where can someone find help?” This program also teaches common risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia. 
For those desiring to be trained, please contact our office or visit our website to learn more.
Learn More
South Carolina Tobacco Quitline
FREE nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges are available to eligible South Carolinians who enroll in Quitline services.



  • Free one-on-one coaching (phone or web-based counseling and support) to quit smoking
  • Development of a personalized quit plan
Learn More

Need Further Assistance? Contact Us:
website:     phone: 803-461-3201
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