Dillon to offer residents free nicotine cessation therapy
Town targets youths with substance-free concert at Dillon Amphitheater to promote tobacco and nicotine prevention
Dillon is working to create a new nicotine cessation program for town residents using revenue collected from the recently enacted countywide tax on nicotine and tobacco.
In 2019, Summit County residents convincingly voted to approve a new sales tax on all nicotine and tobacco products in the county, including $4 on every pack of cigarettes and a 40% tax on all other products, which bumped to 50% in January and will continue to increase by 10% each year for the next three years.
Officials are trying to put the money to good use. A countywide nicotine work group formed after the implementation of the tax to develop funding recommendations for the new revenue stream. Based on those recommendations, Dillon provided more than $20,000 last year for prevention and cessation programs, and this year the town has set aside more than $150,000 for similar programs and allocations to vital community organizations like Building Hope Summit County, Summit Community Care Clinic and the Family & Intercultural Resource Center. The town will put more than $124,000 in reserves for future spending, as well.
The town also has $50,000 to use for its own purposes, which officials have decided to use on a free cessation program for town residents and substance-free concerts at the amphitheater to help spread the word about the dangers of nicotine and tobacco use to the county’s youths.
“A portion of the tax was set up for each town to be able to do their own thing,” said Carri McDonnell, Dillon’s finance director and representative on the Summit Tobacco Coalition. “So we had $50,000 set aside for the town of Dillon, and the council wanted to do something specific for nicotine that the voters approved. Part of the ballot question was that we provide a cessation program and prevention program, and this council was very set on working with cessation specifically for Dillon residents.”
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During the Dillon Town Council work session Tuesday, June 1, the council approved the use of $25,000 for a new cessation program, which would offer free individual and group therapy sessions for Dillon residents looking to kick their nicotine and tobacco habits. McDonnell said the town would put out a request for qualifications this week to contract someone to facilitate the sessions, with hopes of having the program running as early as late July.
Dillon’s Marketing Director Kerstin Anderson said the town is also planning to use $25,000 to host a substance-free concert, or perhaps a concert series, at the Dillon Amphitheater aimed at preventing nicotine use for the county’s youths. The concert would be hosted in partnership with UpRISE — resist, inform, step up, empower — a local work group for youths in Summit County born out of Youth and Family Services.
“The second piece is specifically targeting youth and providing positive alternatives and outlets so that it’s preventative toward ever developing a nicotine habit,” Anderson said. “… This group will help us organize and produce the event, and the idea is to create a substance-free space that’s tailored to that specific younger demographic.”
While not directly related to tobacco or nicotine prevention, Dillon is also hoping to create a new recreation department within the town next year, which officials hope will provide more interests for residents to further prevent substance use.
“We’re looking at that for 2022 and creating that recreational opportunity through programs we already have,” McDonnell said. “We have a disc golf course; we’re looking toward an ice rink, the marina, the tennis courts, the basketball courts. We have so much recreation in our town, so we’re looking to fund more of a recreation department in 2022, starting small, but looking at that as potential for the future to help youth and adults to have activities to keep them busy.”
Ultimately, officials said they felt the new programs would make a big difference for residents looking for help to stop smoking.
“We talk about the benefit of support and a supportive community all the time,” Anderson said. “Having just the support of one person or organization can make such a difference in peoples’ lives. So we’re happy to be part of that journey to a happier, healthier community.”
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