Chicago awarded $11.5m to decrease tobacco use, exposure to secondhand smoke

Posted: 3/19/2010

Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project one of 44 prevention and wellness awards announced nationwide

Chicago -- It was announced today that Chicago will receive approximately $11.5 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for a two-year project to help reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

The award is part of $372.8 million awarded to 44 communities around the country -- cities, towns, rural areas and tribes -- as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, a comprehensive prevention and wellness initiative funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

Chicago's project aims to reduce adult smoking rates by 10% and youth smoking by 25%.

Remarking on the announcement, James M. Galloway, MD, Assistant U.S. Surgeon General and representative for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said, "The Communities Putting Prevention to Work award reflects the commitment of the Obama administration to invest in the health and well-being of Americans. Chicago's community program, funded by the Recovery Act, will address the critical issue of tobacco use, the single most preventable cause of disease, disability and death."

Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, a local nonprofit organization with a long history in tobacco control, will oversee the project. Key strategies include smoking cessation programs, policy and system changes and media outreach. Collectively, these strategies have been proven to decrease tobacco use and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. Respiratory Health Association will reach out to community organizations with expertise serving vulnerable population groups, such as veterans and women who are pregnant, to assist with project delivery.

"Seventy percent of people who smoke say they want to quit," said Joel Africk, president and chief executive officer of Respiratory Health Association. "This effort will target those individuals and connect them to local resources that can help them do so."

City officials point to the results of comprehensive tobacco control efforts in New York City, which indicate that a reduction in the number of people smoking has led to declining rates of deaths due to lung disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease. In particular, New York City's 19% decrease in adult smoking rates from 2002 through 2006 has resulted in 240,000 fewer smokers, has been linked to an 11% decline in tobacco-related deaths, and will prevent an estimated 80,000 premature deaths in future years.

"We are confident that Chicago's project will reduce smoking rates, improve public health, and cut health care costs," said Chicago Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair. "This project is well-aligned with our department's aim to make Chicago a safer and healthier city by working with community partners to promote health and prevent disease."

For more information, view our Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project page and media kit