Anti-Smoking Advocates Push for Increased Prevention Efforts in Contra Costa
Anti-smoking advocates lobbied Contra Costa County Supervisors Tuesday to use the county's tobacco settlement funds for smoking prevention programs, the Contra Costa Times reports. The county now spends $2 million -- not from the tobacco settlement -- on tobacco education programs annually. The most recent $9 million annual settlement payment went to help care for the uninsured. Although the supervisors "made no promises" on future tobacco fund allocations, they agreed to compare Contra Costa's smoking prevention programs with those of other counties. Defending past budget decisions, Supervisor John Gioia said, "You have to look at the whole picture. We don't want to be turning away people who lack medical insurance." However, the advocates, who are concerned that the county will cut back on smoking prevention programs, said the county could "save lives and long-range medical costs" by doing more to prevent smoking. The Times reports that county health officials plan to devise a "breakdown" of county spending on smoking prevention (Cuff, Contra Costa Times, 4/25).