Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center (SJRMC) is the lead agency for St. Joseph County. SJRMC was selected to oversee the implementation of tobacco prevention and cessation related activities of Tobacco Free of St. Joseph County. SJRMC has received funding from the Indiana State Department of Health Tobacco - Prevention Commission www.in.gov/tpc. Funding to TPC was made available through the Master Settlement Agreement between 46 state attorneys general and the tobacco industry.
The mission of Tobacco Free St. Joseph County is to improve the health and quality of life of citizens of St. Joseph County and to create a culture within the community where the use of tobacco is no longer a socially acceptable behavior.
Tobacco related statistics for Indiana residents are alarming:
- Adult smoking rate is 25.6%
- Youth smoking rate is 18.1%
- Pregnant smoking rate is 19.1%
- 9,200 youth become new daily smokers each year
- 160,000 kids alive now will die from smoking
- Smoking caused health costs: $2.08 billion annual
- Smoking caused productivity losses: $2.62 billion annual
- Medicaid costs (state and federal): $486.9 million annual
As the lead agency, SJRMC will coordinate a network of volunteers and staff to shift social norms and eliminate the tobacco industry's influence through advocacy, social and policy change. The funding will be used to implement comprehensive smoke-free policies as well as tobacco prevention and cessation programs for St. Joseph County.
Residents of the county will notice an increased amount of advertisement and publicity to increase awareness regarding local tobacco activities and deceptive tobacco industry practices.
The program has four essential components:
- Building Strong Communities Based Partnerships, including Diverse Partnerships
- Protecting Hoosiers from Environment Tobacco Smoke
- Reduce Youth Initiation to Tobacco
- Promoting and Using Cessation Resources
A portion of the funding received by SJRMC will be returned to the community to fund prevention and cessation activities. Examples of programs include provider and employer training, Indiana State Quitline referral enrollment, adult cessation programs, and the youth anti-tobacco industry program, VOICE.