County board supports raising age to purchase tobacco, vapor products

March 3, 2015

NEW — 6 a.m. March 5, 2015

The King County Board of Health has given its unanimous approval to a resolution, sponsored by board member Rod Dembowski, calling on the Washington State Legislature to pass legislation proposed by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to increase the legal purchase age for tobacco and vapor products from 18 years to 21 years old.

The Washington State House of Representatives has passed the legislation out of the House Committee on Health Care & Wellness by a 12-3 bipartisan vote, while the bill is awaiting its first hearing in the Senate Commerce & Labor Committee.

The King County Board of Health consists of bi-partisan elected officials and several health care professionals from throughout King County. The board sets countywide policies and regulations to protect and promote the health of King County residents.

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King County introduces drug take-backs

July 2, 2013

The King County Board of Health has passed rules and regulations to create a prescription drug take-back system for King County residents.

It’s the second system of its kind in the country; the other is being implemented in Alameda County, Calif.

Residents can drop off leftover or expired medication at retail pharmacies and law enforcement offices free, and the collected medicines will be incinerated at “properly permitted facilities,” according to a Board of Health press release. The program will be implemented free of charge to taxpayers; drug manufacturers selling medication in King County will fund the program.

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City Council committee backs drug take-back program

December 4, 2012

City Council members signaled support Nov. 26 for a burgeoning effort to create a King County prescription drug take-back program.

Council Safety & Services Committee members unanimously recommended the council approve a resolution supporting the program.

In a separate decision Nov. 19, council members sent the proposed resolution to the committee. The council is expected to consider the resolution again Dec. 17.

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City Council committee supports countywide drug take-back program

November 28, 2012

NEW — 8 a.m. Nov. 28, 2012

City Council members signaled support Monday for a burgeoning effort to create a King County prescription drug take-back program.

Council Safety & Services Committee members unanimously recommended for the council to approve a resolution supporting the program to committee for further discussion.

In a unanimous decision Nov. 19, council members sent the proposed resolution to committee. The council is expected to consider the resolution again next month.

The council sent the legislation to committee less than a week after Mayor Ava Frisinger, a King County Board of Health member, joined a local forum to discuss the proposed county drug take-back program.

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Discuss drug take-back program at Issaquah forum

November 6, 2012

Residents can offer opinions about a proposal to create a King County prescription drug take-back program at a community forum.

Issaquah Drug Free Community Coalition members organized the event to discuss a countywide network of drop-off centers for leftover medications. The proposal is under consideration by the King County Board of Health.

The forum starts at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Eagle Room at Issaquah City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way.

Panelists include Margaret Shield, a leader in the statewide Take Back Your Meds Coalition and Board of Health members David Baker, mayor of Kenmore, and Ava Frisinger, mayor of Issaquah.

Some pharmacies and law enforcement agencies, including the Issaquah Police Department, offer drug take-back programs, but advocates said the available programs do not meet the need.

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Leaders highlight Evergreen State national parks

July 17, 2012

King County leaders highlighted nearby national parks and declared July 9 as Washington State National Parks Day to recognize the economic and environmental benefits such places add to the landscape.

The national parks in Washington attract millions of parkgoers each year, including many out-of-state and foreign guests. Officials said the visitors then contribute to King County and other communities near the parks. Washington received more than $264 million in economic benefits related to national park units in 2010, National Park Service officials reported.

“Thanks to the abundant recreation opportunities in our national parks, local residents as well as visitors have access to valuable resources for outdoor physical fitness activities,” Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, King County Board of Health vice chairwoman and the Issaquah representative, said in a statement. “Our national parks contribute immeasurably to the quality of life we enjoy in the Northwest.”

Officials also used the proclamation to attract attention to cuts in the National Parks Service budget.

“It is imperative we continue to fund these parks and keep them in the pristine condition we see them in today for future generations to enjoy,” Issaquah-area Councilman Reagan Dunn said in a statement.

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King County adult smoking rate stalls, but concerns linger for teenage smokers

May 31, 2012

NEW — 9 a.m. May 31, 2012

The adult smoking rate in King County stalled between 2007 and 2011, but tobacco use still accounts for 1 in 5 deaths countywide and $343 million each year in health care expenses and lost wages.

The information comes from a Public Health – Seattle & King County report about tobacco use. Officials released the document Thursday to mark World No Tobacco Day.

Between 1996 and 2007, smoking rates among adults declined almost 50 percent. In the most recent period, 2007-11, the rate flattened. The report estimates 155,000 King County adults — or about 10 percent of adults — smoke cigarettes and another 26,000 adults use smokeless tobacco.

Though the overall smoking rate in King County is among the lowest in United States, the county has the most extreme smoking inequities among the 15 largest metropolitan counties in the United States.

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King County could create no-smoking areas in parks

April 12, 2012

NEW — 6 p.m. April 12, 2012

King County could join almost 600 local governments across the United States to create no-smoking zones in county parks.

The legislation before the County Council aims to prohibit tobacco use in parks’ busiest areas, such as athletics fields, picnic shelters, playgrounds and trailheads.

The proposal calls for voluntary compliance, so, as for littering, failing to keep a dog on a leash or using alcohol in a park, enforcement occurs only if a problem is reported. Officials plan to use a federal grant to pay for signs denoting tobacco-free areas.

“When people come to a public park, they expect to breathe fresh air — not someone else’s cigarettes,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said in a statement issued Thursday.

The county could join New York City, Los Angeles County, and other local governments large and small, to limit tobacco use in public parks.

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Guest Column

November 22, 2011

Continuing the fight against childhood obesity

We have much to celebrate and be thankful for this Thanksgiving. In King County, we are fortunate to live in a community committed to helping people access healthy food.

Yet much work remains to be done, especially in supporting our children’s health.

By the time our children in King County reach middle and high school, they will have a better than one in five chance of being obese or overweight. By the time they are adults, more than half will be obese or overweight — causing debilitating health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, and adding hundreds of millions of dollars in health care costs locally.

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King County leaders toast Food Day

November 1, 2011

King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert (center) holds a joint resolution to celebrate Food Day in King County on Oct. 24. Contributed

Food Day, a grassroots effort to promote healthier eating, food security and sustainable food policies, merited a weeklong celebration in King County and the Puget Sound region, plus recognition from local leaders.

The celebration included farm tours, panel discussions, film screenings and, of course, dinners.

King County and Seattle leaders issued a rare joint proclamation Oct. 24, Food Day, to support the national Food Day campaign and local observances.

County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, a county Board of Health member and the Issaquah representative on the council, and Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin invited colleagues to join a joint county-city presentation on Food Day.

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