Plan designed to keep youngsters smoke-free
MONTGOMERY - The state Department of Public Health is asking local organizations to develop programs designed to keep children from smoking cigarettes.
State Health Officer Dr. Donald Williamson said Friday that requests for proposals were sent to dozens of organizations asking them to apply for a total of about $1 million in grants for smoking cessation programs.
Williamson said the grants will be awarded on a competitive basis to between 11 and 15 organizations to provide programs for the 67 counties. The amount spent in each county will be between $15,000 and $30,000, he said.
The deadline for applying is Feb. 18, he said.
"We think we've got to do something to keep kids from smoking,'' Williamson said during a news conference attended by Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Administrator Randall Smith.
ABC agents survey stores that sell tobacco to ensure that no one under 19 is sold tobacco.
Smith said recent surveys show that 16 percent of the stores sold tobacco to minors last year, down from 80 percent in 1994.
The agency and the Department of Public Health also train store clerks how to check identification cards and how to refuse to sell tobacco to minors.
"As the enforcement and merchant education agency, the ABC Board works continually with the retail community to lower illegal sales rates,'' Smith said.
"We must reach youth, parents, local law enforcement, educators and justice officials to enlist their aid in combating this problem.''
Williamson said about 30 percent of teens smoke, down from about 37 percent five years ago.
"That's a move in the right direction,'' he said.
Williamson said the grants can be used by organizations to produce or buy anti-smoking programs.