There is no doubt that nurses in advanced roles need to be familiar with current health policies and strategies to contribute to policy development. However, even ordinary individuals who value the health environment also have to demonstrate their concern over important health issues, such as the prevalence of secondhand smoking. By definition, secondhand smoking, also known as “passive smoking,” pertains to the act of inhaling tobacco smoke from other persons who are actually smoking. According to the World Health Organization (2011), secondhand smoking accounts for over 3,000 death cases of lung cancer worldwide each year. In the case of Texas, secondhand smoking was also largely associated with an increase in the morbidity rate caused by asthma and other respiratory problems among children and adults (Department of Health and Human Services, 2003). In this research paper, I will be discussing my personal experiences in influencing policymakers in line with their efforts to change policy and promote health. Secondly, I will also address a policy issue that needs to be tackled in the community and the workplace that is relevant to my selected role specialization. I will also outline a policy strategy that utilizes a high degree of political competence to address the policy issue.
There was a time when I became really concerned about secondhand smoking to the point that I wrote to our congressman regarding my concerns. This was a significant issue at my workplace because the staff, patients, and family members in the health organization I serve do not follow the rules on “designated smoking areas.” They tend to smoke in front of the hospital and loading docks. Additionally, some area restaurants in Texas still allow smoking in public. For me, secondhand smoking presents a significant problem, given the fact that hospitals are becoming more selective in hiring employees. Even insurance rates are increasing for smokers, and some are declined coverage due to the associated risks.
Based on the Department of State Health Services in Texas, tobacco control and prevention are crucial to reduce the negative health effects on the citizens residing in Texas. Among its major goals are preventing tobacco use among young people, promoting compliance, supporting adequate enforcement of federal, state, and local tobacco laws, and eliminating people’s exposure to secondhand smoking (Texas Department of State Health Services, 2011). However, these policies appear to be not strictly enforced by the state government in Texas, as many people still do not follow the said policies and continue smoking even in non-designated areas.
Addressing the Policy Issue
It is essential to devise a policy strategy that utilizes a high degree of political competence to address the policy issue of people’s lack of obedience and respect for the implemented policies, leading them to smoke in non-designated areas. One possible strategy that the government in Texas may adopt is implementing stricter punishments and fines for anyone seen disobeying the policy. For example, significant fines and imprisonment terms may serve as severe punishments for anyone who willfully smokes in non-designated areas, especially in public places. The Texas government may also assign “anti-smoker watchdogs” from all over Texas to report on whoever is disobeying the newly implemented anti-secondhand smoking policies.
Department of Health and Human Services. (2003). Secondhand Smoke exposure among middle and high school students — Texas, 2001. MMWR Weekly, 52(8), 152-154.
Texas Department of State Health Services. (2011). Tobacco prevention and control. http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/tobacco/
World Health Organization. (2011). Passive Smoking. http://www.who.int/tobacco/en/atlas10.pdf