Anti-Smoking Groups Want Tobacco Settlement Funds Earmarked for Smoking Prevention and Education Programs
Anti-smoking groups in Contra Costa County want to see more of the county's share of the 1998 national tobacco settlement spent on tobacco education, the Contra Costa Times reports. Dr. William Walker, head of the county's Health Services Department, said that the county spends about $2 million per year on tobacco education, but the Times reports that none of that money comes from the tobacco settlement. The settlement funds are instead used to help provide health coverage to uninsured individuals. Janice Turner, a member of the Tobacco Prevention Coalition and a health educator with the American Lung Association, said that individuals who lack health coverage "are a small percentage of county residents," while there are many others who smoke or who could benefit from tobacco education programs. "What about the other residents in the county? They should be allowed to reduce their risk," she said. The county Board of Supervisors, however, has said that if the tobacco funds are not spent on providing coverage to uninsured residents, other services or programs in the county would be cut to finance the coverage. Supervisor Gayle Uilkema said, "It's very hard emotionally to say that I am going to be willing to decrease substantially what we spend on uninsured children." Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier said he is "willing to seek more funding for tobacco prevention" in the budget, but added that "money is scarce." The supervisors will likely discuss the tobacco settlement issue at their budget hearings at the end of the month (Condes, Contra Costa Times, 7/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.