The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is backing its Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative with $372.8 from federal stimulus funds. Philadelphia will receive $25.4 million of those funds over two years.
The idea is to reverse unhealthy trends in the city. The first $10.4 is dedicated to reducing smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke by city residents. The remaining $15 million will promote healthy nutrition and increased physical activity. Smoking, poor nutrition, and non-aerobic lifestyles correlate to a host of illnesses including cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes.
“The Philadelphia Department of Public Health will use this new federal funding,” explained Health Commissioner Donald F. Schwarz, “to begin the process of creating an infrastructure for healthy living in Philadelphia. We will make tobacco cessation resources more accessible to Philadelphia smokers, further restrict youth access to cigarettes, and change the norms about smoking throughout the city. These resources will also help combat chronic disease by making healthy foods more available to Philadelphians, decreasing the availability and consumption of unhealthy foods, and promoting physical activity. We hope to be able to continue to fund these life-saving interventions through revenue from a sugar-sweetened beverage tax.”
As Dr. Giridhar Mallya of the department of public health suggests, smoking is no small matter. “Each year approximately 3,000 Philadelphians die as a result of tobacco use, and smoking leads to almost a billion dollars in medical spending and productivity losses in the city,” Mallya stated. “Yet most smokers in Philadelphia want to quit for themselves and for their families but need the information, resources, and environment in which to do it successfully.”
Pro-cessation media campaigns and expanding Quitline services as well as employer-based cessation programs and benefits through public and private insurance should help those struggling to quit smoking. The elimination or at least reduction of illegal tobacco sales to children and their exposure to second-hand smoke also rate high on the agenda this year.
“Philadelphians are poised to be a national model for prevention, wellness and healthy communities,” declared Congressman Chaka Fattah who supported the health initiative in the House Appropriations Committee. “This grant is good news and builds upon the historic vote I look forward to casting on Sunday for healthcare reform. The children of Philadelphia will benefit from the federal-local partnerships in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act as well as the bold initiatives being undertaken by Mayor Nutter and his administration.”
For more information: visit http://www.phila.gov/health/ and www.hhs.gov/recovery.