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March 31, 2010 > Recovery Act funds to reduce adult and youth smoking

Recovery Act funds to reduce adult and youth smoking

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell and Laurel Anderson

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department is receiving a $6.975M, two-year grant for its new Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Tobacco Prevention and Control Program to reduce smoking, help prevent tobacco-related deaths and reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

Announced on March 19 by the US Department of Health and Human Services, the Santa Clara County Public Health Department is one of 44 communities nation-wide to receive part of the $372.8M Communities Putting Prevention to Work grant awards funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The initiative is designed to improve the American public's health by reducing chronic disease and promoting wellness.

In Santa Clara County, 10.5 percent of youth and 10.7 percent of adults are smokers. Nationally, each year, 420,000 people die from tobacco-related diseases, while tobacco smoking costs more than $190 billion in lost productivity and health-care costs.

"This $7M ARRA award from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proves once again our region remains at the cutting edge of disease prevention and preparedness," said Rep. Mike Honda. "The inclusion of youth activists from the Community Advocate Teens of Today and other youth-health advocates is an innovative and necessary step in continuing the battle against lung cancer and other diseases associated with smoking; their activism and the expected 25 percent decrease in youth-smoking prevalence, which will result from the CPPW program, will significantly contribute to the encouraging national decline in teen smoking rates. I commend the Santa Clara County Public Health Department on their hard work protecting the health of all our county's residents."

"Today's announcement that $6.9M is on its way to Santa Clara County is extraordinary news," said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo. "These dollars will help prevent many tobacco-related diseases and deaths and I'm thrilled so many of my constituents will lead healthier lives."

"I'm happy to see Santa Clara County using federal dollars to improve our community's health," noted Rep. Zoe Lofgren. "The Communities Putting Prevention to Work Tobacco Prevention and Control Program will help county public health officials focus their efforts on local populations with disproportionately high numbers of smokers. By helping people quit smoking and keeping kids from ever starting, we improve our entire community's health and lower health care costs for everyone."

"As a former smoker, I know how difficult it can be to stop," said President Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, and a member of the Leadership Team for the new program's implementation. "These ARRA funds will go a long way toward helping smokers quit while preventing others, particularly teenagers, from acquiring the habit."

The Santa Clara County CPPW Tobacco Prevention and Control Program will focus on five main strategies:

Creating smoke-free skilled nursing, mental health, and youth facilities to reduce second-hand smoke exposure and related health implications;
Limiting youth access to tobacco and outdoor advertising close to schools to reduce the number of youth who start smoking;
Advocating for an increased state-wide tobacco tax in California, which now has the 32nd lowest tobacco tax in the nation, to increase the price of cigarettes and deter tobacco use;
Developing a tobacco cessation network and enabling local organizations to provide nicotine-replacement therapy in the community; and
Advocating for development of tobacco retail licensing in Santa Clara County and its cities to monitor tobacco sellers and provide revenue for tobacco education.

"The Tobacco Prevention and Control Program will focus efforts on those who smoke in disproportionately high numbers and suffer from the burdens of chronic disease," said Martin D. Fenstersheib, County Health Officer. "These funds and our goals for the program will help more of our residents realize better health, which contributes to having a healthier community."

For example, in Santa Clara County, of those who smoke every day or some days, 31.9 percent have household income of less than $20,800. A national study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the proportion of income that the lowest US income earners spend on tobacco is 1.4 percent, while the top spends only 0.03 percent. The poor proportionately spend more than four hundred times the percentage of their income on tobacco than do the top-earners.

"The County will partner with local officials and organizations throughout the community to best use these new resources and funds for tobacco-prevention and control activities," said Dan Peddycord, Santa Clara County Public Health Director. "The County has made tremendous strides in this area of chronic disease."

The new CPPW program will build upon Public Health's Steps to a Healthier Santa Clara County, a CDC-established chronic disease prevention and education collaboration that included tobacco prevention efforts. So far, the collaboration has resulted in a 5.3 percent drop in smoking prevalence between 1990 and 2002 and a further decline between 2002 and 2009 of approximately 2 percent among adults and 3 percent among youth.

Nation-wide, more than 75 cents of every healthcare dollar, or $1.7 trillion annually, goes toward the treatment of chronic illness, according to the Almanac of Chronic Disease, 2009.

"The cost of managing chronic diseases in Santa Clara County continues to grow," said County Executive Jeffrey V. Smith. "Unless we do more to prevent cancer, heart and lung disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases from occurring in the first place - the ultimate goal of our community project - we shall never be able to bring health care spending under control."

To learn more about Communities Putting Prevention to Work, visit www.hhs.gov/recovery and www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/recovery.

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