Tuesday, December 7, 1999

CDC official to promote
physical activity with
tobacco funds

State to get $55 million by July

By Leila Fujimori


Physical inactivity and poor diet cost Hawaii residents as much as $97 million in medical expenses and cause 1,100 deaths each year, according to a Centers for Disease Control official.

CDC investigator Michael Pratt told the state Tobacco Advisory Committee yesterday that Hawaii youths are significantly less active than their mainland counterparts, and only 40.4 percent of adults are active.

Pratt is in Honolulu to help the committee and the state Health Department devise a plan to promote physical activity, with funds from the state's portion of the tobacco settlement.

Health Director Bruce Anderson expects the state to receive $55 million by July 2000.

Julian Lipsher, manager of the department's tobacco program, said CDC leadership has held Hawaii up "as the gold standard model" for sticking to the intended use of the tobacco funds.

A portion of the funds would be designated for chronic disease prevention, focusing on three areas: physical activity, nutrition and maternal and child health services.

Some money also would go to tobacco-use control.

Anderson is expected to present a plan to Gov. Ben Cayetano on Dec. 15, and final decisions will be made by the state Legislature.

"We want to preserve the funds as they are," Anderson said. "We've received tremendous support nationally."

The governor was lauded for his stand to use the funds solely for chronic illness prevention, he added.

Anderson, however, told the advisory committee that Cayetano is under tremendous pressure to use funds for other purposes because the state is in a fiscal crisis He encouraged health specialists and others attending yesterday's meeting to lobby the governor and Legislature to support the committee's plans.

The Health Department is still fleshing-out plans for the physical activity and nutrition programs.

Anderson said there may be a possible reduction of up to 10 percent of settlement funds yet to be received by the state because of lagging tobacco sales. But $14.7 million already in escrow is safe, he said.

Tobacco companies agreed to pay $206 billion over 25 years to settle lawsuits in 46 states. The states contend the companies knowingly promoted tobacco use, which cost them millions of dollars in health care costs.

Hawaii is expected to receive a total of $1.1 billion.

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