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Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ $158,000 grant will fund work to reduce tobacco use in Pierce County.

Someone you love might live a longer healthier life, thanks to a generous gift from the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The Tribe awarded Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department a 1-year, $158,664 grant to help reduce tobacco use among our residents.

Tobacco is an important focus of our work. It’s the top cause of preventable death and disease in Pierce County. Our residents have higher rates of adult smoking than the national average.

Our work focuses on several areas:

  • Preventing tobacco use.
  • Helping people who want to quit.
  • Tobacco-free living.
  • Laws and regulations.

“This grant comes at a critical time in our fight against tobacco,” said Tacoma-Pierce County Director of Health Dr. Anthony L-T Chen. “Our funding for this work has decreased steadily over the years. We will use the Puyallup Tribe of Indians’ generous gift to protect young people from taking up smoking or vaping in the first place, and to help adults who are already smokers quit the habit.”

We focus our work on areas of Pierce County that need it most. Tobacco use is especially high in communities already experiencing health disparities. And tobacco use worsens chronic conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), flu, pneumonia and diabetes. Those conditions—and related preventable hospitalizations—are higher in areas with high tobacco use rates.

The best way to reduce tobacco use is to focus on young people before they become lifelong smokers. Tobacco and vaping companies make products that appeal to youth, and heavily market to them.

Our latest data shows vaping increasing quickly among Pierce County youth. The 2018 Healthy Youth Survey found 23 percent of county 10th graders reported vaping in the past 30 days. In the 2016 survey, that figure was 14 percent. At the 8th grade level, vaping use has more than doubled.

Pierce County continues to be a leader in innovative approaches to reduce vaping and nicotine use among youth.

In 2011, our Board of Health was one of the first to pass regulations on e-cigarettes and vapor products. These established a minimum age for purchase and set rules on where these products could be sold. And our early efforts played a role in the state’s Vaping In Public Places law.

This grant is another example of our partnerships with the Tribal Council, the Puyallup Tribal Health Authority and the Emerald Queen Casino. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked closely on vaccinations and other important projects.

“The Puyallup Tribe of Indians were the first residents of Pierce County and we are very grateful for their partnership,” Dr. Chen said. “The people of the Puyallup Tribe are known for generous and welcoming behavior to all people who enter their lands and they have demonstrated that yet again. We must work together to reduce tobacco use in Pierce County. We share the responsibility of protecting and improving the health of all people and places in the Tribe’s ancestral home.”

Learn more about the services we offer to help people quit nicotine.

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. As part of our mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. We are one of only 163 accredited health departments in the country and among six in the state to have met or exceeded the Public Health Accreditation Board’s quality standards. Learn more at www.tpchd.org.

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