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Pa 39th in Tobacco Prevention

Local efforts hit hard by arbitrators' slash in funding.

Pennsylvania ranks 39th in the nation when it comes to spending on tobacco prevention programs, according to a new report from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

The survey evaluates how states use money from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, to prevent smoking in kids, and to help adults quit.

Pennsylvania's ranking could take an even further tumble thanks to a ruling by arbitrators in September. It slashed the funding for tobacco programs in Pa. by $180 million after finding  the state failed to properly enforce the settlemenht.
 
At the Blair County Drug and Alcohol Program, Executive Director, Judy Rosser said, "it really set us back. We were really going strong, we had a lot of programs, people working on the issue in on communities and so those comunities have been collapsed now into smaller pockets."
 
According to Rosser, Blair DAP is not allowed to use tobacco settlement funds for kids programs, but can only funnel it to adult cessation programs and promoting smoke-free areas in public housing.

However, Rosser says her organization, has shifted other funding to continue prevention programs for kids.

She believes that Life-Skills programs in the schools can help prevent smoking in at-risk children. The programs focus on building self-esteem,  better decision making abilities,  stress management, and improving social skills.

Blair DAP also offers smoking cessation programs for kids in area schools, which Rosser said will also continue.

She said as a result of the decision on the tobacco settlement funding, her organization now also works with tobacco programs in Bedford.


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