Editorial: Help Health Department stamp out tobacco use in Carroll County

Have an idea to help curb smoking and tobacco use in Carroll County? The Health Department may have up to $5,000 to get that idea off the ground.

The county Health Department has four grants of up to $5,000 each for proposed tobacco use prevention projection, and is now accepting applications through Sept. 14. Businesses, nonprofits and other groups are eligible to apply.


Funding is available from the state’s Cigarette Restitution Fund, which is money tobacco companies agreed to pay as part of the multi-state 1998 Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement. In the 20 years since that settlement, cigarette use is down significantly nationwide, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. Nearly a quarter of the adult population smoked in 1997; that number is down to about 15 percent nationwide now. Youth smoking has seen an even more precipitous drop, from about 37 percent in ’97 to about 16 percent.

The number of adult smokers in Maryland and Carroll County has come down quite a bit over the years as well, yet roughly 13 percent of Carroll adults still smoke, according to data from, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

At least part of the drop in smoking is thanks to efforts funded by the settlement, including grants like these for community projects.

There are plenty of reasons to quit smoking or using tobacco, and some of the health benefits are almost immediate. Within 20 minutes of quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop and within 12 hours, carbon monoxide in the blood stream drops to normal. Over time, lung function improves and the risk of heart attack begins to drop — the risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half within a year.

Tobacco use prevention grants from the Health Department are nothing new, having been offered periodically since 2001, although some years the amount of grant money available has been pretty small. A number of projects funded from the grants have turned out to be quite successful — and creative.

Barbara White, director of the Cigarette Restitution Fund Program at the Health Department, recalled for us a rodeo at the Carroll County Agriculture Center intended to educate youth about the dangers of chewing tobacco. She also mentioned the SMART Moves program through the Boys & Girls Club that focuses on good decision-making and consequences, including the decision to start smoking, among other things.

Projects should fall into one of the following categories: creating a smoke-free campus for a business or other organization, engaging in tobacco use prevention activities, smoking cessation services or preventing youth exposure to secondhand smoke.

If you have an idea, but aren’t sure how to execute it, or are worried about filling out the application, staff and the Health Department can offer advice and training to help. The application process is fairly straight-forward and you don’t need to be a grant writer to figure it out.

“Just tell us about your organization. Tell us about your background. What do you want to do? Give us a brief timeline and how you would spend the money,” White told us.

Unfortunately, the Health Department doesn’t have the staff to carry out all of the programs it would like to reduce tobacco use, so these grants play a key role expanding their reach. If companies or organizations don’t apply, the money could go to waste rather than be put toward a useful program to carry out the mission of stamping out smoking in Carroll County.

For more information or to apply, contact Carol Wilson at 410-876-4963 or