By Marion Davis
PROVIDENCE – The city of Providence has won a $3.3 million federal stimulus grant to fund a campaign with the R.I. Department of Health to fight youth smoking, with at least 15 jobs expected to be added – and more at community-based organizations – to implement the new program.
The Providence Tobacco-Free Campaign will be led by Mayor David N. Cicilline’s Substance Abuse Prevention Council and state officials. The new funds, the mayor said, “will immediately put people to work protecting our young people from making the dangerous choice to smoke cigarettes.”
Dr. David Gifford, the state health director, said the size of the grant will allow state and city officials to work collaboratively “towards truly broad-based systems and behavior change.”
The grant, awarded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will direct funds to community-based and youth organizations to reach culturally diverse populations that are disproportionately affected by tobacco use.
The goal is to reduce youth smoking by 25 percent, and youth exposure to secondhand smoke by 30 percent. In the long run, that is expected to reduce tobacco-related deaths by one-third.
The initiative will include the development of new city ordinances restricting the marketing of tobacco, including a restriction on tobacco ads within 1,000 feet of schools; the creation of a new tobacco vendor registration system; free smoking cessation support services for the uninsured through the Providence Community Health Centers; pilot smoke-free policies in Providence Housing Authority sites; and smoke-free campuses in public schools.
A video of the mayor’s announcement of the program is posted on YouTube.