The goal of this assignment was to photograph ten photos, five of which were positive public health messages, and five that were messages that needed to be improved. These photos would then be put into a PowerPoint and described and discussed. The PowerPoint also had to include waysand ideas that the negative public health messages could be solved or fixed. And lastly, it had to include a slide on overarching themes that were found in the pictures taken. The second part of the assignment, was to write a reflection paper, describing my thoughts and realizations. The reflection was also to include a connection between my photos and the agenda of the Healthy People 2020.
This project was very interesting to me. At first, I was unsure of what I was even going to photograph, but as I got in my car and drove around the area, it seemed to be obvious of things I should be taking pictures of. I actually had a good time finding things to take pictures of and as I took them, my opinions and ideas for positive change came naturally.
I felt that this project was very important in helping people in the class, including myself, truly understand the purpose and importance of public health. Some things that I found that made me happy were signs posted on doors such as “No Smoking” and “We Card/ID.” I feel that these signs are very important in enforcing the rules of certain buildings and establishments. These signs provide information on negative substances such as alcohol and tobacco which can cause users to deter from their substance.
The no smoking sign is positive in that it will eliminate the possibility of second-hand smoke in the dorm hall it was located at on campus. Another photo I took which made me happy was the LU Emergency post. This is positive in that it provides students with a sense of security and safety on campus, which is important in promoting public health. Unfortunately, all of the photos I took were not positive. A negative photo that stood out to me was an advertisement promoting cigarettes. This is something I feel not only public health must improve, but the United States in general needs to change.
Other countries such as Australia, are increasing costs of cigarettes to decrease the number of users in the country. This would be a big step in improving the overall health of society. This picture impacted me the most because I am a huge supporter of anti-tobacco campaigns. Another negative photo I took was of Chick-fil-A inside of a Lindenwood University dining hall.
This promotes and encourages students and faculty to consume fast food rather than healthier options, by allowing this establishment to not only be right on campus, but also including it in Lindenwood’s meal plan. A change that could be done would be promoting healthier food options in the dining halls on campus such as a quality salad bar or sushi bar. This assignment was important in giving me a better understanding of what public health is and how it can constantly be improved upon.
There were a few things that truly did surprise me as I was completing this project. Something that not only surprised me, but also upset me, was the overwhelming amount of trash I saw on campus as I drove through it. I found it very sad that there were no signs or warning about the disadvantages of littering. In order for this problem to be solved, Lindenwood should enforce and promote the importance of littering and the harm it not only does to the planet, but also to ourselves. I think there should be punishments put in place for those who litter. In many cases, this is the only way people will follow the rules and in turn benefit.
Something else I found surprising was that when I took the photographs at West Clay Package Liquor, there was a sign that said “Under 18 No Tobacco, We Card.” This sign was surprising to me due to the fact that many places such as gas stations that I go to, do not have these warnings posted. I felt that this establishment was going above and beyond other places by actually having a written statement that they ID those that could possibly be underage. This sign will deter underage people from attempting to not only buy tobacco products from this location, but also from entering a liquor store.
I learned a lot about public health from this project. I learned the true importance of public health messages on the community. Signs such as warnings, rules and regulations, and information can have a significant impact on how people act and the decisions they make. I learned that people must lead by example. If West Clay Package Liquor puts up signs about carding underage individuals, it is possible that other establishments could also put signs up. This domino effect would lead to positive change in the public health community. The main thing I learned is that public health starts with you. In order for change to come, you must take it upon yourself to make a difference.
One thing I would like to learn more about public health are what other ways we can promote positive health messages other than by things like signs. I find public health very interesting and there are probably so many different simple ways everyday people can create a positive impact on the world and on public health, and I would like to learn more about these ways and methods.
The most important public health issue I found in the community was the issue with tobacco advertising. I chose this topic to compare to the Healthy People 2020 agenda on tobacco. Healthy People 2020 have a problem with tobacco due to the fact that it is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States, yet it has caused more deaths than most other causes combined. A startling statistic found by the Healthy People 2020 is that “As a result of widespread tobacco use, approximately 443,000 Americans die from tobacco-related illnesses, such as cancer and heart disease, each year. An estimated 49,000 of these deaths are the result of secondhand smoke exposure” (Healthy People 2020). These deaths come due to the many diseases and health problems that tobacco use brings such as heart disease, lung disease, several forms of cancer, and more. Another unfortunate fact is that second hand smoke also contributes to these statistics.
Second hand smoke can lead to asthma, ear and espiratory infections and even SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Tobacco use is not only a problem for public health because it is deadly, it is also a problem due to the fact that tobacco smoking contributes to billions and billions of dollars in medical costs. What the Healthy People 2020 are trying to say, is that tobacco use is one of the biggest public health problems today. This relates back to my problem with the tobacco advertisements that I found on the door of West Clay Package Liquor. Public health must work to reduce the number of users.
I stated in my PowerPoint, that I think we, as the United States, should implement what other countries with the same problem are doing. Other countries such as Australia, are increasing tax costs of cigarettes to decrease the number of users in the country. Over time, the tax cost will continue to rise with each passing year, until cigarettes are only available for outrageous prices, hopefully making the product undesirable. This would be a big step in improving the overall health of society in the United States, by significantly decreasing the number of people with diseases that are caused by tobacco use.
In conclusion, public health is an important topic which people must begin to realize. In order to better the community, we must put our heads together to find solutions to large public health issues which will slowly, but surely, improve the quality of living for all people of the world.