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Area groups share $835,000 in tobacco funds

Tobacco control organizations in 17 northwest Ohio counties found out yesterday how they'll divide up $835,000 in grant money awarded by the Ohio Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Foundation.

The foundation was established to fund local and state smoking prevention efforts using funds from Ohio's settlement with tobacco companies. The foundation hopes to annually award $7 million to $9 million in cessation and prevention grants.

The actual amount awarded will vary based on whether the General Assembly borrows more money from the funds for other purposes, and how financial markets affect the return on investments made with foundation money.

In northwest Ohio, the individual grant amounts from the $835,000 range from $62,000 to the University of Toledo to evaluate smoking prevention efforts to $3,070 to Auglaize County to fund in-school smoking prevention efforts.

Other local organizations receiving grants include: Mercy Health Partners, $38,410; Connecting Point in Toledo, $25,810; Neighborhood Health Association in Lucas County, $25,050; Defiance County general health district, $21,110; Toledo-Lucas County health department, $20,880; Williams County Health Department, $17,630, and the American Lung Association in Erie County, $42,048, as well as in Huron County, $28,032.

The Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio is the budgetary agent for the northwest Ohio grant money and is receiving $64,310 to cover administration expenses. Jan Ruma, council spokesman, cautioned that while individual grant amounts have been set, some organizations will have to rethink how they spend the money because the awards are less than expected. She said the groups originally asked for $1 million.

While the money is less than hoped for, “historically we haven't gotten anything, so we're thrilled to be getting anything,” said Holly Kowalczk, program manger for St. Luke's Hospital's “Don't Be a Nicoteen” effort, which received $42,590 in grant money.

The St. Luke's program, run and paid for by the hospital for the past seven years, exists in 30 schools in Lucas and Wood counties and offers smoking prevention classes, as well as alternative-to-suspension programs for students caught smoking. Ms. Kowalczk said St. Luke's will use its grant money to expand into several schools, including Rogers and Bowsher high schools.

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