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City Council and Community Partners Announce Proposal for $1 Million Tobacco Cessation Effort

December 12, 2022

{Columbus, OH} -- Today, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and Councilmember Shayla Favor joined medical leaders and community partners to propose a $1 million public-private partnership to help residents stop smoking. The Comprehensive Tobacco Cessation Education and Awareness Campaign will run through 2023 with the goal to connect residents addicted to nicotine to resources and programs through multiple community events, youth education, and training for medical professionals to help their patients who want to quit tobacco use.

“Helping those who are already addicted to smoking and vaping quit is just as critical as preventing the next generation from picking up this dangerous habit,” Hardin said. “We know many people who smoke, vape, chew or dip want to quit, but many don’t know how. Our goal is to connect every resident who wants to quit tobacco with effective, proven treatment.”

“The tobacco industry has targeted children, Black Americans, the LGBTQ community and other at-risk populations,” said Favor, chair of the Health & Human Services Committee. “It is important to us to support our youth and residents with access and awareness of programs that can help them fight addiction. Today, we are making a significant investment in that fight.”

Councilmembers Hardin and Favor discussed matching $500,000 in resources provided by national and local health partners with $500,000 of City of Columbus funding. The majority of the dollars will go to the development and implementation of a multimedia promotional campaign focused on elevating existing Columbus tobacco cessation programs, especially for targeted populations. This will include community events, billboards, radio ads and PSAs, social and digital media, community fliers and a dedicated website with cessation resources.

Additional funds will be invested to increase the capacity of cessation programs for youth and targeted communities. This will include disseminating information about these programs to middle schools and high schools and ensuring they are culturally competent for all populations. Local community health organizations, low-cost health clinics, and other providers will be engaged to ensure they have sufficient information and materials to provide cessation advice or referrals for their patients.

“The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is proud to join local partners in supporting this innovative, holistic approach to public health to help Columbus residents quit using harmful tobacco products,” said Meghan Kissell, regional advocacy director with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “I applaud the members of the Columbus City Council for investing public resources toward fighting tobacco addiction on behalf of their residents, and we commit to contributing to that investment with our own dollars and resources.”

“We are at another critical moment for tobacco regulation in this country, with the FDA’s proposed ban on menthol flavorings. But this isn’t enough to overcome the legacy of addiction tobacco products have created in our communities,” said Dr. Peter Shields, deputy director of The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Easily accessible, new ways to smoke — such as vape pens — are fostering a lifelong addiction to nicotine in more people that will be very challenging to overcome without meaningful smoking cessation programs. This is a public health crisis that deserves intentional intervention.”

“It is important that we help our neighbors quit smoking, and help them never start in the first place, said Columbus Public Health Commissioner Mysheika W. Roberts, MD, MPH. Their health and the health of our entire community will improve. And we will all live in a healthier — and more equitable — community as a result.