$80,000 directed to smoking cessation
More than $80,000 is flowing into the Springfield Community Health Initiativeâ€™s coffers to help low-income and minority smokers quit.
The funds come from the tobacco settlement monies that are coming to Illinois, the initiativeâ€™s president and chief executive officer, John Frana, said Wednesday.
"This is money that is intended for non-health-department, non-profit organizations to use for targeted smoking-cessation programs," Frana said.
The money is being funneled through the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Frana said the agency plans to work with the American Lung Association of Illinois and the Capitol Community Health Center to set up stop-smoking classes. The first classes are planned for as early as March 1.
"In all, we hope to enroll 400 people in smoking-cessation classes," Frana said.
In addition to classes and educational material, the initiative will help pay for nicotine patches for enrollees and for nicotine medication, if needed.
Both the patch and the medication deliver measured amounts of nicotine, the substance in cigarettes thought to be the most addictive, over a period of time to help reduce the craving for a smoke. Eventually, people taper off the nicotine supplements.
Frana said he hopes to recruit the Sangamon County and Springfield health departments to provide the expertise in actually conducting the smoking-cessation classes.
The agency has six months to spend the $80,000. Any leftover funds must be returned to the state, Frana said.
Itâ€™s also possible that the Community Health Initiative could pick up more money to help low-income and minority smokers kick the habit, Frana said.
"There is more money coming from the tobacco settlement," he said. "Whether that goes for this purpose is a legislative issue."