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Less tobacco settlement funds means cuts

Jill Lufrano

With less tobacco settlement money this year, a state agency funding programs to prevent, reduce or treat the use of tobacco was unable to pay for any new programs this year.

Carson City’s proposal to start a children’s healthy choices program was among those that went unfunded.

“There wasn’t enough to go into any new programs, and the existing programs were cut pretty severely,” said state Sen. Raymond Rawson, R-Clark County. “Everybody on the committee and everybody in the room was pretty frustrated there wasn’t more (money).”

Nevada received a $38 million payment – $5 million less than projected – from the tobacco industry this year to cover its share of a settlement that ended cigarette litigation by states in 1998.

The Task Force for the Fund for a Healthy Nevada was created to allocate 20 percent of the money received for programs to prevent, reduce or treat the use of tobacco and the consequences of tobacco use, and 20 percent for programs that improve health services for children and disabled people.

With $8 million in requests this year, the task force was only allocated $2 million and had to choose which programs to fund.

Healthcare services proposed for children this year did not receive as much consideration as other proposals, Rawson said. Food programs, counseling and dental programs were cut back. Carson City’s request for $87,000 to pay for a program that would help fight obesity in children by promoting healthy eating and educational activities was denied.

“I came out of the meeting with a strong understanding of how much need there is out there and that we’re not able to take care of,” Rawson said.

Carson City health department staff will continue to seek funding for the obesity prevention program, said Director Darren Winkelman.

The program was to target the city’s 630 third-graders and their families, providing them with activities to promote positive food choices and physical activity.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.