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'Making a difference' in Pa.

November 21, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Pennsylvania distributes 70 percent of the money it receives through the tobacco settlement to its communities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health's tobacco prevention and control program - which includes enforcing laws about youth access to tobacco, media campaigns and cessation classes - seems to be making a difference, Director Judy Ochs said.

For example, in 1999, when undercover minors working with police tried to buy cigarettes, they were successful 41 percent of the time. This year, the rate was 7 percent.

The state's budget for tobacco prevention and cessation jumped from about $2 million in fiscal year 2001 to more than $40 million the next year because of the national settlement with major tobacco manufacturers, Ochs said.

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Pennsylvania's share of the tobacco settlement money came to $11.4 billion over 25 years.

Franklin and Fulton counties each have received money for tobacco programs.

Fulton County Medical Center was given $107,000 in 2003-04 for a study on tobacco use. Ochs said the center asks patients questions as they register and interviews about 2,100 people per month.

Through the study, the center found out, for example, that in 2002, of the 162 females who gave birth to live babies, 26 were smokers, Ochs said.

The center's program also involves tobacco curriculum for schools.

Franklin County received $298,954 in 2003-04.

Ochs said the county has programs in which teenagers talk to their peers and elementary school students about smoking.

The county's grant money also covers events at the Chambersburg YMCA, a "Kick Butts" day at a mall and an information session with local legislators and other community leaders, Ochs said.

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