SmokeLess States Announces First Round of Grant Recipients
(CHICAGO, IL â€“ March 14, 2001) The SmokeLess States National Tobacco Policy Initiative based at the American Medical Association (AMA) today announced the recipients of approximately $16 million in grant awards for a three-year policy initiative funded
SmokeLess States is a private sector initiative that supports activities of statewide coalitions working to improve the tobacco policy environment in the U.S. The $16 million awarded is part of a $52 million commitment by RWJF to support the development of policy-based tobacco reduction strategies to reduce the harm caused by tobacco use. RWJF funding is intended to complement other sources of funding and mobilize greater numbers of grassroots advocates.
"Tobacco products, by design, are intended to be addictive. That addiction causes immeasurable harm to users and non-users alike," said Thomas P. Houston, MD, co-director of SmokeLess States. "We are committed to reducing that harm, as well as the suffering and death attributed to tobacco use through this policy initiative."
Grant recipientsâ€™ policy efforts under this initiative fall into three main areas: increasing state tobacco excise taxes, reducing exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and fostering changes in Medicaid and private insurance to cover tobacco dependence treatment.
The three policy areas were chosen with the expectation of significantly diminishing the burden of tobacco use on individuals and society as a whole. For example, increasing the price of tobacco products has been proven to reduce demand, lessening the ill health effects associated with tobacco. This is particularly important among children and youth. Environmental tobacco smoke, also known as secondhand smoke or passive smoking, is classified as a "Group A carcinogen" by the Environmental Protection Agency, and is known to cause cancer and other diseases. For every eight smokers who die from tobacco-related illnesses, one non-smoker dies from exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. Finally, fostering changes in the insurance system to cover tobacco dependence treatment is expected to make quitting easier for many who try each year. Encouraging insurance revisions is expected to make cessation services accessible to more individuals and also reduce the burden of health care costs on private insurers and the Medicaid system for smoking-related illnesses.
"We truly believe that focusing attention and developing support for these policy issues will lead to a greater impact on tobacco use behavior and improve the publicâ€™s health for many years to come," said Donna Grande, MGA, co-director of SmokeLess States.
This round of grant awards will be followed up in June by a second granting phase. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have submitted grant applications.
SmokeLess States is in its eighth year of existence. During its first seven years, RWJF provided approximately $40 million for educational and policy efforts undertaken by statewide coalitions in 36 states and the District of Columbia.
For more information please contact SmokeLess States at 312-464-5547.