County gets boost in war on tobacco


Herald Writer

Anti-smoking efforts in Snohomish County got a quarter-million-dollar windfall Tuesday, its share of the $15 million Washington will receive this year from tobacco companies.

If you go to restaurants, to bowling alleys or to the movies, you will have a front row seat on some of the ways the money will be spent locally.

Plans call for:

  • Stepping up efforts to get more restaurants and bowling alleys to ban smoking.

  • Including anti-smoking messages in the slide shows flashed on theater screens before movies.

  • Displaying anti-smoking messages on area billboards.

  • Setting up displays of smoking cessation or anti-smoking materials for the public.

  • Identifying specific groups in the county with high smoking rates to find better ways of targeting anti-smoking messages.

  • Checks to see if local retailers are requesting identification on youthful customers buying tobacco products to ensure that they are at least 18, the youngest age customers can legally buy these products.

  • Hiring two new health district employees to step up youth and adult smoking cessation and prevention efforts.

    The nearly $226,000 that will be spent by the Snohomish Health District between now and the end of June will nearly double its anti-smoking efforts. The countywide health agency already had allocated $228,000 for such programs in this year’s budget.

    "I’m so excited," Jonnaec Tillman, who works in the local health district’s tobacco prevention program, said of the money that will come to Snohomish County from the tobacco companies.

    Yet, even this larger pool of money is dwarfed by what is spent on tobacco advertising in Washington, she said.

    Tobacco companies spent $100 million in marketing efforts last year in Washington alone or $274,000 a day, according to the state Department of Health.

    "That’s more than we got for the entire year" from the tobacco companies, Tillman said.

    In the first year of the funding, there will be no free smoking cessation products, such as nicotine patches or gum available, she said, because of state requirements on how the money will be spent.

    Basically, the state looked at information gathered by federal health officials on the most effective anti-smoking campaigns nationally as guides for how it should be spent in Washington, Tillman said.

    Free smoking cessation classes are planned for Everett, Edmonds and Monroe early next year, she said.

    The $224,486 being sent to Snohomish County is the third largest allocation in the state.

    King County, the state’s most populous, received $784,001, followed by $277,734 for Pierce County.

    The money is part of a 25-year, $195 billion agreement that was reached between the tobacco companies and states in 1998 as compensation for health problems caused by smoking.

    Statewide efforts include a toll-free "quit line" that will be kicked off Nov. 15 and $4 million spent on anti-smoking television ads.

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