Today, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health was awarded cooperative agreements totaling $25.4 million over two years for prevention and wellness initiatives. Philadelphia is receiving two awards from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to decrease smoking and secondhand smoke exposure among city residents, $10.4 million, and a second award to promote healthy nutrition and increased physical activity, $15.0 million.
These cooperative agreements are part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative to support specific public health efforts to combat chronic diseases and promote health. $372.8 million, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, has been awarded nationally to 44 communities including cities, states, towns, and tribes. Governments and communities will receive these awards to implement policies, systems, and environmental change strategies over the next two years as part of HHS’s Communities Putting Prevention to Work. As a cooperative agreement, these funds cannot be used for any other purposes, including as operating dollars to fill budget gaps faced by municipalities.
Mayor Michael A. Nutter said, “In recent years, Philadelphia has witnessed an explosive growth in overweight children and adults. Additionally, despite a law banning smoking in the workplace, too many Philadelphians continue to smoke tobacco, risking their health and that of their families. These new grants will enable the City of Philadelphia and its many partners to mount a sophisticated campaign for healthier residents now and in the future.”
Health Commissioner Donald F. Schwarz said, “The Philadelphia Department of Public Health will use this new federal funding to begin the process of creating an infrastructure for healthy living in Philadelphia. We will make tobacco cessation resources more accessible to Philadelphia smokers, further restricting youth access to cigarettes, and changing the norms about smoking throughout the city. These resources will also help combat chronic disease by making healthy foods more available to Philadelphians, decreasing the availability and consumption of unhealthy foods, and promoting physical activity. We hope to be able to continue to fund these life-saving interventions through revenue from a sugar-sweetened beverage tax.”
Dr. Giridhar Mallya, Department of Public Health Director of Policy and Planning, said, “Smoking has enormous public health implications in Philadelphia. Without cessation, one in two Philadelphia smokers—150,000 people—may eventually die from smoking-related diseases, and approximately 60,000 will suffer from emphysema, stroke, heart disease, and cancer. Each year, approximately 3,000 Philadelphians die as a result of tobacco use, and smoking leads to almost a billion dollars in medical spending and productivity losses in the city. Yet most smokers in Philadelphia want to quit for themselves and for their families but need the information, resources, and environment in which to do it successfully.”
Building on the City’s existing smoking ban, media campaigns will help to further an anti-smoking, pro-cessation climate in Philadelphia. Expanded Quitline services, employer-based cessation programs, and benefits through public and private insurance will enable smokers to make aided quit attempts, increasing their chances of success two- to three-fold. Through education and regulation, the City seeks to eliminate illegal sales of tobacco to youth and children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.
Dr. Schwarz added, “Taking measures to prevent chronic illness will help people live longer lives. Smoking, poor nutrition and inactivity contribute to the development of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, many types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Related medical expenditures put a significant strain on health resources in the U.S. and the cost of managing these illnesses continues to grow. Through our strong partnerships with other City agencies, community-based organizations, and academic institutions, we hope to reverse these trends and help residents be healthier.”
Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA-02), who was invited to join today’s national grant announcement in Washington, supported the public health initiative in Congress as a House appropriator.
“Philadelphians are poised to be a national model for prevention, wellness and healthy communities,” Congressman Fattah said. “This grant is good news and builds upon the historic vote I look forward to casting on Sunday for healthcare reform. The children of Philadelphia will benefit from the federal-local partnerships in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Health Care & Education Affordability Reconciliation Act as well as the bold initiatives being undertaken by Mayor Nutter and his administration.”