COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Ohio is recruiting churches for an anti-smoking campaign funded by the money the state received from a legal settlement with tobacco companies.
First Church of God in Columbus is the first Ohio congregation to receive a state anti-smoking grant. The church's Changing Environment & Attitudes for Smoking Elimination program is getting $150,000 each year for three years.
The money was awarded by the Ohio Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Foundation to educate high-risk populations in this case blacks about smoking dangers.
Other states have effectively used churches and other religious organizations to spread the message, said Ken Slenkovich, the foundation's director of programs.
''The main reason is because churches themselves and particularly pastors of those churches are highly trusted by the members,'' Slenkovich said. ''They're seen as a credible source of information.''
While the smoking rate among black Ohioans is lower than for whites, the incidence of smoking-related illnesses, such as lung cancer, is higher, according to the foundation.
And smoking-related illnesses are the top cause of death among blacks nationally, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Mount Carmel Health, the American Lung Association and Project Linden, which provides drug- and alcohol-treatment and runs prevention programs, are advising the church.
The program, which kicks off July 1, will educate participants about how to stop smoking, the danger of second-hand smoke and supporting relatives who want to quit.
As project leader, First Church of God hopes to recruit 40 churches in the next three years to join the effort.
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