Lots of health topics to talk about

By: Bill Smith - Contributing columnist

As Alex Trebek would say on “Jeopardy,” let’s see what we have under the potpourri category:

— Operation Medicine Drop is 10 to 2 p.m. Saturday at Biggs Park Mall. This is an event where all unused pills are collected. With all the focus being placed on opioid misuse, there is no reason to keep pills that could fall into the wrong hands. It is unhealthy to flush them, so this is a great alternative. Robeson County has one of the highest rates of prescriptions per person in the state so it is no wonder that 1,252,480 (2015), 110,562 (2016) and 2,269,373 (2017) pills have been turned in so far.

— Attention is again being drawn to Robeson County’s public schools, this time over corporal punishment. There are only two counties left in North Carolina that allow this, and we are well past the point of tolerating it. The fact that the vast majority of youngsters that receive this punishment are minorities and children with special needs only reinforces the wrong that is being done. Jessica Lowery Clark, Robeson County Partnership for Children executive director, is spearheading a change model and should be contacted if you want to get involved.

— The 2018 results are in and Robeson County remains dead last in the County Health Rankings for North Carolina. The worst counties are clustered near the South Carolina and Virginia borders, with a few in the far west and down east. It is a simple formula: Good tax base means good education systems, good job opportunities, good quality of life, good tax rates, good ratio of health providers to population. Good health habits mean good health rankings. Replace the word “good” with “bad” and you are describing the counties at the bottom of the ratings. Of course many health habits are individual choices and we tend to smoke too much, are too sedentary, have poor diets, participate in risky behaviors and generally do not live as long as our counterparts in other parts of the state.

— JUULing has become nearly 50 percent of the e-cigarette usage. The device looks similar to a flash drive and does not produce the smoke associated with combustible devices. Although a person has to be 18 to buy it — 21 online per the producer — high school kids are sneaking into bathrooms and inhaling the product. The amount of nicotine in a JUUL pod is equal to a pack of cigarettes. The fact that they come in trendy flavors makes them more inviting for the young. The bottom line is nicotine is addictive.


Bill Smith

Contributing columnist

Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.

Bill Smith is the director of the Robeson County Health Department.