Monroe’s St. Francis Medical Center will use a grant awarded by the state’s health department for cheap cigarettes cessation and control programs.

The grant award, announced Tuesday by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, provides funds to health care facilities committed to using research-based strategies for cigarettes online prevention, control and awareness, empowering citizens to make healthy lifestyle choices and reduce buy cigarettes use.

St. Francis was one of nine hospitals that applied, and one of four that was awarded funding, according to a DHH news release.

The other recipients were CHRISTUS Schumpert Health System of Shreveport, Women & Children’s Hospital of Lake Charles and Ochsner Clinic Foundation of New Orleans, the release stated.

“We’re very pleased that we’ve been chosen as one of the four recipients,” said Louis Bremer, president and chief executive officer of St. Francis Medical Center. “It will enable us to further our efforts on trying to make a positive impact on the health status of our community as a whole and, more specifically, having a positive impact relative to reducing the number of people who smoke, reducing secondhand
smoke, getting people who smoke cigarettes to quit (or) using smoke-free tobacco products to quit, and hopefully creating enough education (for) others who may be thinking about smoking cigarettes to never start.”

Each hospital is expected to use the funds within 2 1/2 years to eliminate nonsmokers’ exposure to secondhand smoke cigarettes by establishing tobacco-free policies; promoting tobacco cessation; increasing education for at-risk populations; or preventing the initiation of tobacco use among young people, according to DHH.
Recipients were selected based on their existing infrastructure and abilities to implement an effective tobacco control program, said Rene Stansbury, tobacco control coordinator for Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center, which partnered with DHH’s Tobacco Control Program.

For instance, Bremer said St. Francis already has a history of adopting policies relative to having a smoke-free environment, both inside the building and outside on the hospital’s property. So far, efforts have centered on smoking cigarettes cessation classes, offering patches, medications and incentives to encourage the hospital’s staff to quit smoking cigarettes. Now, with additional resources, the hospital will try to take these efforts beyond its walls to have a greater impact on the community.

“It encourages us to work with local governments throughout the region, municipalities, such that they can, for example, implement regulations for smoke-free parks and things of that nature,” he said.

He added that the program initiatives are important as 22 percent of adults in Louisiana smoke, compared to the national average of about 17 percent.

“It’s clear that people in Louisiana are utlizing tobacco at a heavier rate,” he said.
The state health department estimate 6,500 adults in Louisiana die each year from smoking cigarettes or from diseases caused by secondhand smoke.

Bremer noted smoking cigarettes is linked to several diseases that negatively impact the health Louisiana residents. That adds to the state’s reputation of landing at the bottom of national health rankings, he said.

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