State Grant Targets Smoking in Berkshire County

PITTSFIELD — The Berkshire Area Health Education Center (AHEC) has announced that it is a recipient of two Mass. Department of Public Health Tobacco Control Program grants.

The purpose of the grants, one for Pittsfield and one for the Northern Berkshires, is to design tobacco-control interventions that will change community norms and ultimately reduce tobacco use prevalence in Massachusetts. The grant focuses on those communities and populations that have substantial unmet need, defined as either those that have very high rates of smoking or those that comprise a significant proportion of the adult smoking population across the state.

At the end of the 18-month planning process, Berkshire AHEC will have a written plan and be ready to implement an evidence-based intervention to reduce smoking prevalence in the community. All plans will include strong integration with a community-based partnership or coalition already working on community health improvements such as chronic disease, substance abuse, or maternal and child health.

Lisa Fletcher-Udel, director of collaborations and prevention activities for AHEC, is coordinating the initiative. Janet Grant from the Western Mass. Center for Healthy Communities will facilitate the planning process. In each target area, Berkshire AHEC will identify community leaders to serve on the planning group.