CDC Foundation Receives Tobacco Settlement Funds, Awards Grants to Prevent Smoking Among Urban Youth

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation has awarded a total of $868,500 to six community organizations to implement programs to help prevent smoking and tobacco use among urban youth. The grants were awarded as part of the October 5, 2004 settlement agreement reached by the states of New York, Maryland and Illinois; R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company; and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation.

According to CDC, each day, nearly 4,400 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 years start smoking in the United States. Approximately 23 percent of high school students and 10 percent of middle school students are current cigarette smokers. An estimated one-third of these young smokers are expected to die from a smoking-related disease later in life.

The agreement settles allegations that the tobacco companies violated the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement by marketing tobacco products to youth through advertising campaigns that emphasized Hip Hop music, dance and art. As part of the settlement agreement, the CDC Foundation received funds to administer a competitive grant program to reduce smoking rates among urban youth. The CDC Foundation issued a request for proposals and convened a panel of experts to select the final grant recipients based on their proven success at reaching urban youth with evidence-based smoking prevention and reduction strategies.

Grants from the CDC Foundation will enhance or expand youth smoking prevention and cessation programs implemented by the following six organizations:

Center for Health Promotion, Education, and Tobacco Use Prevention - Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene - Baltimore, Maryland

To deglamorize tobacco use, the Center for Health Promotion, Education and Tobacco Use Prevention will use grant funds to sponsor two cultural festivals to reach out to target communities, maintain a teen-focused and teen-driven Web site, and recruit additional young people for youth-lead anti-tobacco coalitions.

Centro Hispano Daniel Torres - Reading, Pennsylvania

Centro Hispano will expand school-based tobacco prevention and cessation programs for Latino youth in elementary, middle and high schools through projects such as Project Breathe, BUSTED! and The Power of Choice. The group’s goals include providing additional anti-tobacco educational materials in Spanish, increasing counter-marketing campaigns to Latino youth, and targeting Latino pregnant and parenting teens.

Contra Costa County Health Services - Martinez, California

Contra Costa County Health Services will use grant funds to support the Empowerment Through Action (ETA) project at Middle College High School in San Pablo. Through ETA, teen advocates will define the tobacco problem in their community, design solutions in partnership with adults, and work with community leaders to create effective change.

Jewish Community Center of Staten Island - Staten Island, New York

The Jewish Community Center of Staten Island will expand its youth-led anti-tobacco program, Reality Check, with a particular focus on youth in central Brooklyn, south Brooklyn and the north shore of Staten Island. The group plans to reach out to the “Hip Hop” generation with counter-marketing efforts, such as distributing youth-designed anti-tobacco Hip Hop clothing and accessories, recruiting Hip Hop celebrities as anti-tobacco spokespeople and role models, and educating Hip Hop focused media about their potential role in tobacco reduction.

Montgomery County Public Schools - Rockville, Maryland

Montgomery County Public Schools will develop tobacco prevention curriculum for eighth and tenth grade students and will train teachers in the school system to use the curriculum’s key messages and instructional materials as important components of health education. The school system will also work with community partners to establish student advocacy groups.

Orange County Health Department - Orlando, Florida

The Orange County Health Department will recruit youth volunteers for Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) and empower them to organize programs, events and marketing campaigns to help their peers say “no” to tobacco use. The grant will create and expand SWAT groups in urban communities disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease and other smoking-related diseases.

“The CDC Foundation is committed to building partnerships to help protect the health and safety of young people,” says Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “We have a long history of connecting national and community-based organizations with CDC experts and research to identify the most effective strategies to help young people say ‘no’ to tobacco. We are excited to be a part of this important settlement agreement, and are confident that these grants will help communities empower their youth to stay smoke-free.”