First grant from tobacco suit to fuel Salina anti-smoking efforts
SALINA -- The first money from Kansas' share of the national tobacco lawsuit has been awarded to Salina, which plans to use the $500,000 to crack down on youth smoking and to offer nonsmoking health programs and other initiatives.
Saline County's efforts are seen as a test because if they're successful, the county could become the model for other anti-smoking initiatives.
Kansas is to receive about $1.7 billion as part of the national lawsuit that sought compensation for the added health care costs attributed to smoking and was settled in 1998 for $246 billion.
Kansas aims to reduce the number of smoking-related deaths in the state, said Julia Francisco, director of outreach programs for the bureau of health promotions in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Francisco works with youth tobacco prevention programs and her bureau oversees the Salina grant.
A coalition of Salina social welfare and government officials on Friday spelled out their initial plans for the grant.
The largest portion of the funding, more than $160,000, will go to community programs such as surveys to gather data on smokers and advertising campaigns to promote smoke-free indoor air.
The effort is expected to include the push for a local ordinance banning smoking in restaurants.
Work toward that goal already had begun before the tobacco grant was awarded.
A committee from the County-City Health Board last year planned to conduct public hearings to seek support of the Salina City Commission, which could turn the no-smoking effort into law, said Salina City Commissioner Larry Mathews, who also is a representative of the health board.