(Access to Coverage of Tobacco Treatment In Our Nation)
Shaping Policies | Improving Health
July 10, 2012 Karyn Johnson is a 38-year-old woman with a thick Massachusetts accent, a cramped office and a big job. In a city of 31,265 smokers, it’s up to her to get them to quit. Johnson works for the Worcester Department of Public Health, a working-class city one hour west of Boston. Her task is daunting: With a population of 181,000, its smoking rate is 47 percent higher than the rest of the state.
And yet through her efforts, the city’s teen smoking rate dropped year after year. Then so did her budget. In 1998, the department had about $350,000 to spend on tobacco cessation efforts. Today, Johnson has $135,000. She is not alone. The recession has battered public health; across the country, local and state health departments have shed 52,200 jobs since 2009.
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