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UPDATE ON CIGARETTE TAX REVENUES FOR HEALTH EDUCATION: FOLLOW-UP TO RELEASE ISSUED EARLIER TODAY

 QUINCY, Mass., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The state Department of Education learned late today that it will receive some $40 million in revenues from the Commonwealth's 25 cent increase on the cigarette tax to fund comprehensive health education programs in Bay State schools. The Department will use the monies, which will be awarded over an 18- month period, to establish a Health Protection Fund Grant Program for Massachusetts school districts. The agency will work closely with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the American Cancer Society in administering the program.
 "The most successful way to teach students about the dangers of smoking is within the context of a comprehensive school health education program," said state Commissioner of Education Robert V. Antonucci. To date, only 85 school districts have such programs in place. The revenues from the cigarette tax will allow school districts to expand these offerings throughout the state."
 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.
 Grants from the Health Protection Fund will allow school districts to develop programs that promote the physical, emotional, intellectual and social health of pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students. The funding also will support comprehensive health education innovations in adult learning centers, professional development for teachers, a mentor program for comprehensive 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 curriculum. 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:

TM-LD -- NY105 -- 8825 01/25/93 19:59 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jan 25, 1993
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