Settlement helps fund state anti-tobacco program
OLYMPIA -- The state on Thursday launched a $15 million anti-tobacco program -- less ambitious than was initially planned but still enough to help Washington residents kick the smoking habit and keep young people from getting started, the Department of So
"From the beginning, we have been determined to attack tobacco use, improve the health of Washington residents and save lives. We believe this anti-tobacco program will accomplish all three goals," DSHS Secretary Mary Selecky said.
The money is part of a $206 billion 1998 settlement between the tobacco industry and 46 states in which Washington expects to receive about $4.5 billion over 25 years. The state has so far received about $168 million, and the Legislature last year earmarked $100 million for anti-tobacco efforts.
The Department of Social and Health Services requested $26 million this year for tobacco control, then scaled back its request for $20 million, and finally on Thursday announced the $15 million program.
The amount "is less than the department's original proposal. Still, state health officials have retained a comprehensive program, rooted in proven and scientific practices," DSHS said in a release.
The program has six components, including community and school-based efforts, a toll-free stop-smoking line to be launched in October, a media campaign, education of retailers and review of how effective the overall effort is.
"The money will be spent on young people, health care and smoking prevention, and that's exactly where it should go," Gov. Gary Locke said in a release.
The money will be distributed widely, including:
$2 million to be divided among King, Snohomish, Pierce, Kitsap, Spokane and Clark counties for community-based anti-tobacco efforts.
$2 million to be divided among the state's 33 other counties.
$2.5 million for an anti-tobacco drive aimed at fifth- through ninth- graders.
$5.3 million for a media campaign, with TV and radio ads targeted at 4th through 12th graders and adult tobacco users.
$1.2 million for the toll-free "quit line."
$1.2 million for program evaluation.
$100,000 for retailer education.
"We've targeted specific populations and age groups, but without sacrificing the science behind the tobacco prevention and control programs," Selecky said. "We're targeting youth, ready-to-quit smokers and pregnant women -- all at-risk groups for smoking, developing tobacco-related illnesses and dying early."
The department said tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in Washington and the United States, with more than 8,200 state residents dying prematurely each year from diseases that can be traced to tobacco use.
"It's time to set a new course for the 65 young people who begin smoking every day and the 700,000 Washington residents who want very much to quit smoking," Selecky said. "It's the job of public health agencies, schools and communities to blaze the trail."