“Youth smoking rates in Washington State have significantly decreased, but more work is needed.”
By Timothy Schumann, The Center Square
The Washington State Department of Health has announced $1.3 million in funding to 11 different community-based organizations to be spent on “youth cannabis and commercial tobacco use prevention.”
“Nine out of 10 smokers start before age 18 and 99 percent start before age 26. Youth smoking rates in Washington State have significantly decreased, but more work is needed,” according to the Tuesday Department of Health news release.
The Center Square reached out to the Department of Health about the source of the funds for the program.
“Funding is sourced through the Dedicated Cannabis Account,” Department of Health spokesperson Shelby Anderson said via email, before going on to cite the Revised Code of Washington 69.50.540 which finances the Dedicated Cannabis Account.
The funding will be grant-based and disbursed to the organizations over the course of the 2023 and 2024 fiscal years. The Department of Health hopes these funds will “provide additional funding to a broad group of organizations while helping create infrastructure to support youth substance use prevention tools.”
“Empowering communities by recognizing their unique voices, needs, and challenges is one way DOH can help foster effective and meaningful change,” said Department of Health Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Community Health Michele Roberts in the news release. “Our hope is that providing resources directly to these community-based organizations, each of whom possess an increased understanding of their own populations, will result in new and exciting solutions.”
According to the announcement, the inaugural grant recipients are as follows:
Foundation For Youth Resiliency & Engagement of Omak
Jefferson Teen Center of Chimacum
Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Centers of Bremerton and Port Townsend
Lopez Island Family Resource Center of Lopez Island
City of Medical Lake
Mi Chiantla of Tumwater
Oasis Youth Center of Tacoma
Pacific County Teen Advocacy Coalition of South Bend
Prevent Together Battle Ground of Battle Ground
Prosser Thrive Coalition of Prosser
Unite! Washougal of Washougal
The news release also called community involvement and understanding “especially important” for youth demographics “disproportionately targeted by commercial tobacco and cannabis industries, including both the BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.”
In addition to calling the grants inaugural, the news release goes on to say the Department of Health will “work with grantees to build mentoring relationships between organizations” and closes with a mention of “future grant application[s].”
When asked if this implied a continuation of the program past the two-year time horizon, Anderson replied in the affirmative.
“There are plans to continue the program in the future,” Anderson said.
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