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Onondaga County to use $2M state grant to prevent, reduce tobacco use in three counties

By Eric Reinhardt


Dr. Indu Gupta, Onondaga County Health Commissioner, is seen in this photo from early January. The Onondaga County Health Department will use a $2 million state grant over five years to support the prevention and reduction of tobacco use in Onondaga, Oswego, and Cayuga counties. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN file photo)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The state has awarded the Onondaga County Health Department a five-year, $2 million grant to support the prevention and reduction of tobacco use in Onondaga, Oswego, and Cayuga counties.

The funding will target youth action and community-engagement efforts, per an Onondaga County news release.

The tobacco-control program within the New York State Department of Health awarded the funding, which is called “Advancing Tobacco-Free Communities.”

“There is a direct correlation between tobacco use and poverty in our community. This also impacts the most vulnerable individuals in our community, including the children and others who are being exposed to secondhand smoke,” Onondaga County Executive J. Ryan McMahon II said in the release. “With this new funding, the Onondaga County Health Department will use community-based strategies to mobilize and educate residents and policy makers in our three county region.”

Smoking rates among adults in Onondaga (18 percent), Cayuga (21.9 percent) and Oswego (30.5 percent) counties are higher than the statewide rate of 14.5 percent, “indicating there is a need for a concentrated effort in this region,” per the release.

“Tobacco is one of the leading causes of illness and death nationwide. Each year, almost half a million Americans die prematurely of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke, and every day about 2,000 youth under age 18 in America smoke their first cigarette.” Dr. Indu Gupta, Onondaga County Health Commissioner, said. “Most importantly, we need to eliminate the health inequities related to tobacco use in Central New York. The people most negatively impacted by tobacco use are those who are experiencing poverty, mental illness, substance use disorders, or physical disabilities. This funding will allow us to work collaboratively across counties to address this inequity with the effective response it deserves.”

Use of funding

The department will use this funding to organize a formal coalition or network of community members and organizations.

The money will also help to “engage and mobilize” community members to strengthen tobacco-related policies that prevent and reduce tobacco use; reduce youth exposure to tobacco marketing in retail settings; limit tobacco-industry “manipulation” of the retail environment; limit exposure to secondhand smoke; and reduce smoking imagery through the media.

The health department will also use the funding to get teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 involved in “action-oriented activities and impart the necessary leadership skills to engage in policy-related, tobacco-control work.”

Onondaga County contends the strategies will “reduce the impact” of retail tobacco marketing on youth and adults, especially those disparately-affected populations; increase tobacco-free outdoor areas; reduce secondhand smoke exposure in multi-unit housing; reduce tobacco imagery in youth-rated movies; and advance tobacco-free norms.

Contact Reinhardt at

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