Tobacco endowment grants to reduce tobacco use

Tuesday, November 9th 2004, 5:31 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Almost $1.5-million in grants was awarded Monday by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust to help reduce smoking in the state.

Communities of Excellence grants were issued to 20 local coalitions with experience in tobacco control to develop programs to reduce tobacco use, said Susan Bize, chair of the trust's board.

Each coalition will receive an average of $75,000 in the first year of the five-year grant program. Total funding is expected to top $14 million.

Goals include making public places and workplaces smoke free; have schools adopt tobacco-free policies and implement anti-tobacco curriculum; and have businesses and insurers provide coverage for tobacco dependence treatment and publish tobacco prevention messages in their newsletters.

The program is funded entirely with investment earnings from the tobacco settlement endowment created from a historic 1998 agreement with big tobacco in which the state will receive more than $2 billion over 25 years for tobacco-related illnesses and cessation programs.

State Treasurer Robert Butkin, who chairs the endowment's Board of Investors, said the grants are an expansion of services funded by the tobacco settlement.

"The money earned on our investment of the settlement funds is being put to efficient use to help those who are addicted quit and to help prevent Oklahoma youth from starting," Butkin said.