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Friday, September 8, 2000

Residents offer ways
to use lawsuit money
to curb smoking

By Rosemarie Bernardo

When Dennis Ching was 8, his father died of lung cancer. Theodore Ching was a good husband, a successful father and a veteran of World War II.

"He did everything right except for one thing, he started smoking," he said. "This stuff is poison and it kills people."

If his father had been properly informed, he would have never smoked for 20 years, Ching said, noting that he will never make the same mistake his father did.

Ching and other residents urged the state to conduct a public-education campaign against smoking during a meeting sponsored by the Hawaii Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund Advisory Board and the Department of Health at the state Capitol auditorium yesterday.

The meeting was to gather ideas and information from residents statewide on how the state should use money from the tobacco industry's settlement of a lawsuit.

Dr. Liz Tam of the advisory board said, "We want to know what people really need and the opportunities there are to use the trust fund wisely."

Ching's suggested that a Web site be developed containing facts about the effects of smoking, targeting youth.

"The Web is today's tool," said Ching.

Based on a master settlement agreement, Hawaii is due to receive $1.3 billion over 25 years. The trust fund, which receives 25 percent of the scheduled payments, is invested and administered by the Hawaii Community Foundation.

Over the next five months, the advisory board will be developing a plan, said Tam. In early January, the board plans to return to communities to receive public comment on the draft before finalizing it, she said. High-school students agree that education is the key.

Laura Burling, senior at Kalaheo High School, said a music video advocating tobacco prevention will get the attention of kids.

"They pay attention to MTV," said Burling, 17. "It has to be something they're interested in and someone around their age."

Jana Anguay, a senior at Castle High School, said, "They should hire people to come to high schools and talk about the effects of (smoking)."

Also, Anguay suggested professionals teach peer educators about tobacco so they can notify other students about its effects.

"Usually the students listen more with other students," said Anguay.

The board encourages people to submit written comments by next Friday via fax at 521-6286, or go to the Hawaii Community Foundation Web site at www.hcf-hawaii. org or email

For more information, call the foundation at 566-5536. Neighbor islands call toll-free at 1-888-731-3863.

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