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City council approves grants for tobacco reduction programs

The city has approved a number of grant applications for tobacco reduction efforts in the city. In total, $27,600 collected from tobacco retailer and flavoured tobacco retailer business license fees will be put towards tobacco reduction initiatives through the Tobacco Reduction Grant.

In total, four organizations and their respective campaigns will receive funding. The Lloydminster and Area Drug Strategy will receive $10,175, The Lloydminster Sexual Assault Centre will receive $5,730 and the Lloydminster Interval Home Society will receive $11,695. The programs each organization will run aim to reduce tobacco use through training cessation councillors, school education campaigns and client awareness.

Councillor Michael Diachuk believes there’s a lot of value to funding tobacco reduction efforts. He described to MyLloydminsterNow.com a previous campaign made by twelfth-grade students to help get flavoured tobacco banned. One of the reasons was the attractive appearance of flavoured tobacco products, and how they looked like something more innocent.

“If you looked at a container of one of the chewing tobaccos, it really looked like a lipstick container. You could not discern it from anything else. Part of their presentation was they would put all these pieces on the table, and say, tell me which one was real and which one isn’t,” says Diachuk.

The work those students did helped bring about change on the provincial level. Flavoured tobacco products have been banned in Alberta since 2015. Diachuk sees the change these groups can make in the community, and believes it’s important to give recognition for it.

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“I think it’s important as a message from us, as ratepayers and citizens and leaders in the community, to say ‘it’s important enough to give this to you because we think it’s a priority, so here’s some support to try and make a difference in Lloydminster,” says Diachuk.

Mayor Gerald Aalbers agrees with the efforts to prevent smoking and the city’s role in helping facilitate them. With all the funds being collected by a tax on tobacco and distributed through a grant, Aalbers sees it as a way for the city to give hands-off help to influence the fight against tobacco.

“This is one of those influencers where the city steps away directly; it’s not city staff, it’s not city resource per se, it’s a tax that’s been paid for by the users to help convey a message to them, and hopefully it works. Because, at the end of the day, we’d like to see less [sic] people smoking, so there can be less [sic] deaths from lung cancer, and all the other things associated with smoking,” says Aalbers.

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