The Northern Marianas will receive some $206,608 in federal grant for its tobacco program which will allow the island to carry out its educational campaign against the hazards of smoking, according to Public Health Secretary Kevin Villagomez.
Villagomez was informed by the Atlanta-based Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the grant. Earlier, Karen Siener, MPH program consultant for the United States Office on Smoking and Health, told Villagomez that the federal agency was impressed with the goals set up for CNMI’s Tobacco Comprehensive State Plan for 1999-2000 program year, including implementation of long-term health care services for citizens in the Northern Marianas.
“We are very happy that the CNMI is among the few areas given funding. We are grateful to CDC for the assistance,” said Villagomez. He said the grant is very timely as tobacco use mortality and morbidity data among the indigenous population are high.
The Department of Public Health has expressed alarm on reports that a growing number of minors are now getting hooked at cigarette smoking, which has led officials to decide that a big part of their campaign focus on the youth.
Villagomez said the CNMI is still waiting for its $15.9 million share in the $206-billion master tobacco settlement agreement, which will partly be used in the educational campaign.
Lung cancer for males, for example, already exceeded the rates of lung cancer mortality among males in the U.S. mainland. Other illnesses that can be partially attributed to cigarette smoking include coronary heart disease, heart attacks, chronic obstructive lung disease, emphysema, stroke and a variety of other cancer.
Under the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement, the Northern Marianas will receive payments in the year 2000 until 2024 ranging from $.5 million to $.7 million.
A large portion of the first year funding from CDC will be spent on setting up administrative staff and infrastructure. This include hiring of personnel to carry out the program, earmarking funds to support training for the new personnel, and identifying funds for supply and equipment to develop health education and training materials for health promotion activities in schools, hospitals, clinics, among others.
The program will also focus on community health education, health promotion and consumer involvement in Saipan, Tinian and Rota.