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 QUINCY, Mass., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Half of the revenue generated by the recent cigarette tax increase in Massachusetts may benefit Bay State schools. The state Department of Education will ask the Commonwealth for $60 million, approximately 50 percent of the anticipated first-year revenues from the 25 cent tobacco tax hike, to fund comprehensive health education programs in school districts throughout the state.
 "Traditional smoking prevention education and cessation programs for youth have been largely ineffective," said state Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci. "The most successful way to teach students about the dangers of tobacco use is within the context of a comprehensive school health education program. To date, only 85 school districts have such programs in place."
 According to a recent Department of Education survey of nearly 2,000 Massachusetts high school students, 70 percent of the students reported having tried cigarette smoking. One quarter of the students reported having smoked regularly by age 16, and more than half of the self- identified smokers said they would like to quit the habit.
 The Department's proposal, to be presented to the state Board of Education on Tuesday, will establish a Health Protection Fund Grant Program that will award $57.6 million in discretionary grants to Massachusetts school districts. The funds will be used to develop programs that promote physical, emotional, intellectual and social health of pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students. Grants will range from $30,000 to $1 million with the average school district receiving approximately $165,000. The Department also will award $10,000 grants to 120 adult learning centers for the development of comprehensive health education curriculum.
 The rest of the monies ($2.4 million) will be used to fund professional development for teachers, a mentor program for comprehensive health education, health education resource libraries for schools, and technical assistance and training for school personnel.
 The discretionary grant program has four major goals:
 -- To develop a pre K-12 comprehensive school health education curriculum -- Tobacco use prevention will be a required component of the curiculum. Local school committees will determine the final content of the subjects offered.
 -- To focus guidance and counseling on the social and emotional development of students -- Schools may create student support teams and link with community agencies to provide in-school support services to student and their families.
 -- To expand the coordination of available health services -- Schools may develop partnerships with community health services, including mental health agencies, and plan and implement school-based health clinics.
 -- To create opportunities for students to develop positive relationships with peers, older students, and adults -- Schools may develop mentor and advisor programs, and peer education groups.
 -- To design opportunities that reinforce responsible student decision-making and positive behavior change -- Schools may create or expand community service learning for students, provide instruction in social skills, and promote student involvement in school governance.
 -- Creating a healthy school environment for staff, students and families -- schools may implement staff wellness programs, including smoking cessation; forums for students, families and school employees on health issues, and policies promoting a healthy school climate.
 An advisory council, including representatives from the state's major health and human services organizations and the American Cancer Society, will oversee the implementation of all Department of Education grants from the Health Protection Fund.
 -0- 1/25/93
 /CONTACT: Marie Fricker of the Massachusetts Department of Education, 617-770-7312/

CO: Massachusetts Department of Education ST: Massachusetts IN: SU:

CH -- NE016 -- 8654 01/25/93 15:21 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 25, 1993

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