Marion County Prevention Newsletter - December 2019 Special Edition

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Health Promotion & Prevention Pieces

December 2019



We hope to increase communication with our many diverse partners within Marion County and in the community. Each quarter we highlight selected programs, share information about events & resources, and share ways you can be involved in healthy local activities.


This month marks the end of Healthy People 2020 - a set of health benchmarks created by the national Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion to improve the nations health. Every decade, the Healthy People initiative develops a new set of science-based, 10-year national objectives with the goal of improving the health of all Americans. This special edition will take a look at how well our community has met some of those benchmarks, and what we can do to continue making our community a healthy, thriving place to live, work, and play. 

What's in this Article

Welcome Tonia Vojtkofsky

Tonia Vojtkofsky (Vo-Cow-Ski) is the new Mental Health Promotion Coordinator, working with the Public Health Prevention team. She will be working on Suicide Prevention and Education, co-leading the Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition with Polk County, as well as providing technical assistance to prevent suicide. Tonia joins us from Oregon State Hospital and has considerable career experience in program development, research, and community education. Tonia loves learning, and is a self-proclaimed "nerd" because she loves reading nonfiction and text books for fun; as well as all things Radiohead: her favorite band.

Tonia Vojkofsky - Suicide Prevention Coordinator

Save the Date - Upcoming Events & Fun Activities


December 13, 2019

Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition

Marion County led the 2019 Substance Abuse Prevention Needs Assessment and gathered input from over 100 community partners to gather data and choose our local focus to reduce substance abuse. We will meet in Salem to move this work forward. If you are interested in attending, please email for more details. 




March 3, 2019

Calling all Middle School Students!


Art Search due March 3, 2020


Marion County is now accepting artwork for the 2020 Problem Gambling Awareness Art Search! Winners in Marion County will be awarded at a local Problem Gambling Awareness Event in March and receive a special prize! Winners with the State of Oregon will be featured in the 2021 Oregon Health Authority Problem Gambling Awareness Calendar and receive a gift card. 

Schools and classrooms are encouraged to host a contest or assignment! Let Marion County's Prevention Team know if you'd like a guest speaker to introduce the art search to students.

Winners Artwork

Artwork by Welea T. of Claggett Creek Middle School, 1st place in the State Art Search!


Click here for more information

Health Equity Focus

Health is influenced by a range of factors, including personal behaviors, access to health care, our environment, and social interactions between each other. We know that taking care of ourselves by eating well and staying active, not smoking, getting the recommended immunizations and screening tests, and seeing a doctor when we are sick all influence our health. Our health is also determined in part by access to social and economic opportunities; the resources and supports available in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities; the quality of our schooling; the safety of our workplaces; the cleanliness of our water, food, and air; and the nature of our social interactions and relationships. The conditions in which we live and interact with each other explain in part why some Americans are healthier than others and why Americans more generally are not as healthy as they could be.

Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty and discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care. 


Many of the benchmarks set by Healthy People 2020 that we have highlighted in this Newsletter do not tell the whole story of health equity. However, Marion County Health Promotion and Prevention Services works hard to include a health equity focus in our programs to reduce health disparities. Take a look at each of the benchmarks below and keep an eye out for opportunities for you to be involved and provide your perspective to increase health equity in Marion County!

Oregon Health Equity and Outcomes

Active Living Benchmarks

People in Oregon appreciate affordable, safe, and easily accessible opportunities for physical activity and outdoor recreation. Oregonians are very active, ranking third in the country for physical activity according to Americas Health Rankings. Overall, most Oregon adults (88%) report adequate access to places where they can be physically active; however, disparities do exist. Therefore, Marion County Health Promotion and Prevention work with community groups and partners to increase safe routes to schools and parks to increase the opportunity for easily accessible healthy living options for everyone. 

See below a breakdown of a few Healthy People 2020 benchmarks and where Marion County residents measure up. 



Adult Physical Inactivity

Oregonians and Marion County adults far exceed the physically inactive target, and adult physical activity is trending the right direction. 


Youth Physical Activity

While the data for this benchmark is limited to 11th grade students, it does give us insight that high school youth's daily physical activity has decreased in the last decade and remains well below the Healthy People 2020 target. 

Tobacco Benchmarks

Cigarette smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disability in Oregon and the United States, despite a significant decline in the number of people who smoke. Over 16 million Americans have at least one disease caused by smoking. This amounts to $170 billion in direct medical costs that could be saved every year if we could prevent youth from starting to smoke and help every person who smokes to quit.


Marion County looks to continue decreasing tobacco use to enhance the health of everyone, from smokers to everyone impacted by secondhand smoke. 

Adult Smoking Rates

The prevalence of cigarette smoking among Marion County adults continues to be below the state adult smoking rate. More adults are quitting, and those who continue to smoke are smoking less. Although this is good news - cigarette smoking is not declining at the same rate among all population groups. Marion County Prevention works with community partners and organizations to address tobacco related disparities to reduce tobacco related deaths, chronic diseases, and associated illnesses. To learn more about tobacco and population groups in Marion County and throughout Oregon, go to: Oregon Tobacco Facts – 2018.


Youth Cigarette Use

Cigarette smoking among Oregon and Marion County youth has been decreasing and is far below the HP 2020 target benchmark of 16% as shown in the graph above. However, a new concerning trend has emerged within the last several years: Youth E-cigarette use.


In 2018, the Surgeon General issued an Advisory on E-cigarette Use Among Youth. As you can see on the right, Oregon youth use has surged over the past several years while Marion County use has remained stagnant, yet high. With increased availability to e-cigarettes, exposure to marketing, and low perception of harm, controlling e-cigarettes use among youth has become a unique challenge. 


Some evidence based tobacco control policies to reduce youth use include: 

Youth E-Cigarette Use
  • Decreasing proximity and density of tobacco retailers near schools and low-income neighborhoods
  • Raising the price of tobacco products
  • Not allowing pharmacies to sell tobacco products
  • Regulating flavored tobacco products
  • Requiring a retail license to sell tobacco

Marion County Tobacco Prevention & Education Program promotes smoke-free environments and communities; reduces the influence of tobacco product marketing; and encourages tobacco users to quit. 


Let us know if you would like to be involved at!

Health Joke of the Season


It is important for us to de-stress and take a deep breath, relax, and laugh. We hope this helps brighten up your day! 


Pasta Joke

Alcohol & Drug Benchmarks

Oregon ranks third highest in the country for deaths related to alcohol. Excessive alcohol use can increase a person’s risk of developing serious health problems such as brain and liver damage, heart disease, cancer, fetal damage in pregnant women, and early death. It is a risk factor for injuries, violence, unintended pregnancy, and motor vehicle crashes. In 2015, 1,933 people in Oregon (43 per 100,000 population) died from alcohol-related
causes, including chronic diseases, acute poisoning, injury, and perinatal causes. This represents a 38% increase in the overall rate of alcohol-related deaths since
2001. In addition, marijuana use has been rising among youth. Therefore, risky drinking among adults, alcohol use among youth, and marijuana use among youth are of particular concern.


Local Adult Binge Drinking

Marion County adults have been below the state binge drinking rate for years now. Both Oregon and Marion County binge drinking rates are significantly lower than the Healthy People 2020 target of 24.2%, but state rates continue to rise - a concern for reducing preventable disease and death from risky drinking. Marion County Prevention has completed a Substance Use Prevention Needs Assessment in 2019, and has formed a coalition of community partners and concerned residents to create actionable steps to reduce risky alcohol use.



Youth Binge Drinking

Drinking rates have been declining among youth over the past several years for Marion County and Oregon. This may be attributed to the increased perception of regular alcohol use as harmful for youth, but also due to the rise in regular marijuana use and decreased perception of marijuana as harmful for youth. Rates of college student binge drinking rates (see right) follow stagnant use trends. 

Young Adult Binge Drinking
Youth Marijuana Use

Marijuana use among Marion County youth has remained fairly stagnant compared to Oregon, where the rates have been on the rise. With the passage of recreational marijuana and increased availability throughout Oregon, achieving the Healthy People 2020 goal has been an uphill battle. In addition, perceptions of harm caused by youth marijuana use has suffered, further exacerbating efforts to prevent youth marijuana use. College student marijuana use has also been on the rise (see right). Increased youth and young adult use shows signs of reduced resiliency. Therefore, focusing on marijuana use (and alcohol use) reduction among youth will be a focus in Marion County with the formation of a Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Young Adult Marijuana Use


Let us know if you would like to be involved at!

Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Benchmarks

In Marion County, we join the Surgeon General & state leaders in recognizing and responding to the clear need for suicide prevention. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of preventable death among ages 10-34 and 8th leading cause of preventable death for all ages (CDC WISQARS, 2017). It is a major public health issue nationally, and in Marion County suicide rates have continued to climb over the past 20 years.


Suicide Rates

This graphic shows suicide rates are on the rise, and that Marion County and Oregon is well above the Healthy People reduction target of 10.2 suicides per 100,000 people. 

Marion County Health & Human Services has chosen to prioritize suicide prevention into our strategic plan. We have partnered with Polk County to form the Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition whose mission is to raise awareness through targeted outreach and education. In 2019, the Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition had 150 members representing 74 agencies and 7 community members.

The Coalition’s outreach efforts focus on making suicide prevention an approachable topic for all ages through social media and community based interaction. The Coalition provides education through evidence based trainings that are nationally recognized as best practices including: Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR), and Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). For more information on these trainings or if you’d like to become involved, go to the Coalition’s website at


Let us know if you would like to be involved at!

A Big Thank You!

Marion County Health Promotion & Prevention truly values our community partners and all the hard work each of you do everyday to make our communities a healthy place to live. Many of the Healthy People 2020 benchmarks and targets are accomplished when a community of residents and professionals come together. Therefore, your input and interactions with our team is incredibly valuable. We could not do the work we do without the many partnerships we have! 


Looking ahead to the next 10 years, we hope to continue strengthening our connections with our community partners to make actionable and impactful steps towards improving the health of all residents and visitors to Marion County! Please connect with us when you see us at meetings or community events. We are also always available via email at for continued connection. 


We wish you a Happy Holidays and New Years!

Happy Holidays!