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17.2% of Idaho adults smoke, 14.3% of youth; most say they want to quit

Idaho has the 16th lowest smoking rate in the nation, the head of the Division of Public Health at the state Department of Health & Welfare told lawmakers yesterday. “However, we still have 17.2 percent of our adult population smoking,” Elke Shaw-Tulloch told JFAC. And Idaho’s youth smoking rate is 14.3 percent. “Seventy percent of our Idaho adult smokers … say that they want to quit,” Shaw-Tulloch said. “And we want to make sure that we are there for them when they want to do so.”

The division’s budget request for next year calls for spending $2 million from Idaho’s Millenium Fund, which comes from a nationwide tobacco settlement, on tobacco control, including $1.5 million for free nicotine replacement therapy, a four-week program; and $500,000 for counter-marketing, including an anti-smoking media campaign, event sponsorship and more. The department had actually requested $2 million for “Project Filter” tobacco-cessation services and $1 million for the counter-marketing effort, but Gov. Butch Otter recommended just a total of $2 million from the Millenium Fund.

Otter also is recommending turning to the Millenium Fund, rather than state general fund, for two other division requests: $30,000 to keep Idaho’s Cancer Data Registry going in the face of declining cigarette tax funding; and $245,000 for the Women’s Health Check program, which provides breast and cervical cancer screening for low-income women. He recommended no funding for the division’s STD Prevention Project, which had requested $126,000 in state funding to replace federal funding that will expire Dec. 31, 2013. That program currently covers screening, testing, treatment, partner notification, prevention, and counseling services for sexually transmitted disease for high-risk individuals.

Otter did recommend $558,000 in one-time state general funds to cover the cost of vaccines for children who are on the military’s Tricare health insurance program; Otter’s also recommended a $441,400, one-time supplemental appropriation in the current year for the same thing. That’s because the federal government notified Idaho in August that as of this past Oct. 1, the federal vaccine grant funding the state was using to purchase vaccines for Tricare kids was no longer an eligible funding source; that meant 7,700 children were at risk of losing immunization coverage. Otter and the department are working with the federal government on a long-term solution.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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