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Expect more tobacco-free zones soon

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If you think tobacco problems have been snuffed out, think again.

Tobacco continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the U.S. and throughout the world, according to Amy Reineke, health educator with Douglas County Public Health.

Local health leaders will now be able to increase their efforts to stop cigarette and tobacco use, thanks to a new $150,000 grant.

The money comes from a Tobacco-Free Communities in Minnesota Grant that was awarded to the Horizon Community Health Board, which serves the five counties of Douglas, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Grant.

Projects in the five-county area will focus on reducing the harmful effects of tobacco exposure in multi-unit housing, preventing tobacco marketing and sales to minors, and increasing tobacco-free ground policies in public places, according to Reineke.

The Minnesota Legislature dedicates $3.2 million annually for tobacco use prevention funding under Minnesota Statute 144.396.

These funds, which are intended to reduce tobacco use among youth in Minnesota and to promote statewide and local tobacco use prevention activities, are then awarded to local health departments by the commissioner of health.

The Minnesota Department of Health's Alcohol and Tobacco Prevention and Control Unit is responsible for implementing the Tobacco-Free Communities Grant Program in Minnesota.

Approximately $1.95 million in state grant funds were recently awarded through a competitive process.

The grants seek to implement evidence-based strategies that prevent the initiation of tobacco use, reduce current tobacco use among adults and youth, eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke, and identify and eliminate tobacco-related health disparities.

For more information, or to get involved at the local level, contact Amy Reineke at Douglas County Public Health at (320) 763-6018.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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