Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No-Smoking Push More Frugal Students Stay Busy despite Budget Cuts

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No-Smoking Push More Frugal Students Stay Busy despite Budget Cuts

Article excerpt

Lauren Bell will stay busy despite a recent state budget cut that means a loss of millions of dollars statewide to fund an anti-tobacco student organization she joined last year.

Bell, a member of Students Working Against Tobacco, acted last year in a play and two public service announcements that discouraged tobacco.

Now, the 16-year-old is helping write an anti-tobacco skit and plans to perform in the play The Tobacco Club five more times during the upcoming school year.

Signs of a budget cut came early this year when House and Senate leaders disagreed on how much tobacco settlement money should be used to fund the Florida Tobacco Pilot Program. The program oversees various anti-tobacco campaigns including the statewide Students Working Against Tobacco, as well as the Truth program, a state-run advertising campaign.

Eventually, $40.1 million was allotted. Program leaders had requested $61.5 million after the program rehceived $70 million last year.

Duval County will receive about $158,000, according to Robert Woods, tobacco prevention coordinator for Duval County. The county received $383,000 last year.

Last year, money was used for several projects, including printing post cards with anti-tobacco messages, sponsoring a smoke-free dining day, entering a float in the veterans parade, publishing an anti-tobacco book, and making numerous public service announcements and commercials.

"We didn't spend the money on one or two things," said Woods. "It was spent on dozens of different projects."

This year, he said, they're being more frugal and doing fewer activities. Budgeting examples include:

Salaries for professional evaluator, SWAT coordinator and part-time administrative assistant at a budget cost of $34,000.

Building a sidewalk and rock garden containing tobacco prevention messages, $12,500.

Constructing a tobacco prevention mobile to be hung in public areas such as museums, libraries and malls, $7,000.

Marketing of local SWAT events, $6,000. ($2,000 will be specifically for minority youth projects.)

Developing community-based activities, including rallies, plays and public service announcements, $5,975. …

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