Providence Gets Grant to Target Underage Smoking

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


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The Mayor’s Substance Abuse Prevention Council (MSAPC) and the Rhode Island Department of Health announced in March that they have received a $3.3 million federal stimulus grant to fund the Providence Tobacco-Free Campaign.

The campaign encompasses all tobacco use, and does not specifically target hookah smoking.

“Hookah smoking is a new realm for us. A lot of what we do with this with money will be to figure out new strategies to reduce youth tobacco use,” said Annemarie Beardsworth, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Health.

The Providence Tobacco-Free Campaign uses a five-pronged strategy to reduce youth smoking by 25 percent and youth exposure to second hand smoke by 30 percent. 

According to Caitlin Thomas-Henkel, Director of the MSAPC, these strategies include:

1)      Media: Counter-marketing campaigns will be launched this summer and fall to raise awareness about the risks of tobacco. Local youth will participate in developing the campaign.  

2)      Access: MSAPC will work with Providence public schools to ban tobacco sponsorship at events and strengthen smoke-free ordinances at schools. They will also contract with the Providence Housing Authority to implement smoke free policies in five city high rises.

3)      Point of Purchase: Implement local tobacco vendor registration through the Providence Bureau of Licenses. Licensing will be modeled after existing regulations in New York and California.

4)      Price: Assess policy options to enhance enforcement and prevent the sale of single cigarettes known as “loosies,” an inexpensive, attractive smoking option for young and underage smokers. Individual cigarettes are not currently legally sold in Rhode Island, but data from community surveillance conducted through the Rhode Island Department of Health Tobacco Control Network indicates some merchants do sell them.  

5)      Social Support and Services: Providence Community Health Centers will provide nicotine replace therapy and smoking cessation services to the uninsured.

This campaign is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The funds will be available until March 2012.


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