Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) of St. Joseph County is the area lead agency selected to oversee the implementation of tobacco prevention and cessation related activities of the Tobacco Free of St. Joseph County coalition. SJRMC has received funding from the Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Agency (ITPC) www.in.gov/itpc. Funding to ITPC was made available through the Master Settlement Agreement between 46 state attorneys general and the tobacco industry.
The mission of Tobacco Free St. Joseph County is to improve the health and quality of life of citizens of St. Joseph County. More specific to the Tobacco Free St. Joseph County initiative, the mission is to create a culture within the community where the use of tobacco is no longer socially acceptable behavior.
Tobacco related statistics for Indiana residents are alarming:
- Smoking rate is 24% for St. Joseph County; 23.1% for Indiana
- 9,800 Indiana youth become new daily smokers each year
- 160,000 kids alive now will die from smoking
- Smoking caused health costs: $2.08 billion
- Smoking caused productivity losses: $2.62 billion
- 16,500 smoking affected births each year
- Medicaid costs: $449 million
- Annual Tobacco Industry spending in Indiana: $426 million
- Secondhand smoke costs Indiana approximately $390.3 million in excess medical expenses
- Half of all cigarettes smoked are consumed by people who have had a mental illness and/or substance use disorder
As the lead agency, SJRMC will coordinate a network of volunteers and staff to shift social norms and eliminate the tobacco industry's influence through advocacy and social and policy change. The funding will be used to implement a comprehensive tobacco prevention and cessation program for St. Joseph County.
Residents of the county will notice an increased amount of advertisement and publicity to increase awareness regarding local tobacco activities and deceptive tobacco industry practices.
The program has four essential components:
- Building Strong Communities Based Partnerships, including Diverse Partnerships
- Protecting Hoosiers from Environment Tobacco Smoke
- Reduce Youth Initiation to Tobacco
- Promoting and Using Cessation Resources
Funding received by SJRMC will be returned to the community to fund prevention and cessation activities. Examples of programs include adult cessation programs, youth prevention programs, smoking cessation among pregnant women programs, and local surveys of restaurants, day care centers, and outdoor entertainment areas.