Board delays approval of tobacco use reduction contract
“Actually, the Dandy the Dragon portion of the program is one of the smaller portions of the program,” according to Laura Roberts, of Pathways to Child and Family Excellence, Inc. “We are responsible for education, smoke-free bars, smoke-free doorways, smoke-free worksites (and) policy change.”
When the Board of Supervisors considered a new tobacco use reduction contract with Pathways at its Oct. 24 meeting for management of tobacco control funds, District 4 Supervisor Brian Dahle questioned whether the board should spend $121,500 to have a person in a dragon costume go to schools during Red Ribbon Week.
“I know the part about Dandy,” Dahle said, “I understand that because I see that.”
He said the county spends a ton of money per child on tobacco intervention. Dahle said he wanted to know more details of the program to see if there’s any money wasted. The report the board received “doesn’t tell you anything,” he said.
“This is a pretty high-quality program,” said Kevin Mannel, assistant county administrative officer for Health and Social Services.
The county previously contracted with Roberts’ Diversified Management company, Mannel said. Roberts said she started Pathways as a non-profit agency and moved all Diversified Management’s public benefit programs to it.
For the tobacco control program, county employee Michelle Urrutia previously worked out of Roberts’ office. Now that Urrutia works for Lassen High School, the contract calls for Pathways to hire its own employee to run the same program.
This is the third year of the program’s current three-year cycle, Roberts said. She works to educate expectant mothers about smoking during pregnancy and with owners of restaurants and many different types of businesses to promote smoke-free workplaces. She also works with gas stations and grocery stores to stress laws against sales of tobacco to minors.
The staff does not do enforcement, but works with law enforcement to educate officers about enforcement.
The program provides help for youth and adults who want to quit tobacco through the 1-800-no-butts and 1-800-no-chew phone lines.
“So, it’s about policy change, it’s about helping educate the public about smoke-free work sites, about smoke-free bars,” she said.
Program staff are also working on a needs assessment and planning for a new three-year plan. The state will soon require the program to work with Indian gaming casinos to encourage smoke-free environments at their work sites.
“So it’s a whole different structure, though, because it’s on tribal lands,” she said. “(It’s a) new adventure for us to learn about.
She said the Dandy presentations during Red Ribbon week are the fun part of the program, which also offers mini-grants to subcontractors who offer smoking cessation services.
County Counsel Craig Settlemire said he had many of the same questions when he reviewed the tobacco control contract allocation agreement between the county and the state. Settlemire said the extensive state paperwork deals with what sort of programs can be undertaken with money received from the tobacco allocation. Settlemire said Dandy the Dragon is just one part of “a rather extensive gamut of services.”
Other board members agreed the program involves a lot of money and they want to see what actually happens on the street. Despite Roberts’ saying she hasn’t been paid on the contract since July 1, the board put off action on approving the contract until it receives more information.
Mannel promised to bring back more information at a future meeting. He said he has volumes of paperwork on the program.
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