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Anti-Tobacco Agency In D.C. Faces Uncertain Future

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The anti-tobacco efforts of the American Lung Association of D.C. has an uncertain future.
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The anti-tobacco efforts of the American Lung Association of D.C. has an uncertain future.

By Rebecca Sheir

The American Lung Association of D.C. is moving its staff and services to a local hospital. But it's uncertain how long the anti-tobacco efforts of one of the District's oldest non-profit health organizations will continue.

Regional restructuring prompted the American Lung Association to close ALADC. But a grant from the D.C. Cancer Consortium and D.C. Department of Health is allowing ALADC to continue its free "Quitline" telephone service and other programs.

Under the name "Breathe D.C.," the agency is now housed at United Medical Center, where "the residents of the District of Columbia will still be able to receive nicotine-replacement therapy and tobacco cessation programs as if nothing happened," says Calvin Smith, board chair of the UMC Foundation.

Smith says the $850,000 grant ends September 30th, but the medical center's foundation is working to extend that date.

Still, Angela Bradbury is worried. The co-founder of a grassroots group that promotes smoke-free workplaces says "it's great the smoking rate in the District went down from 20.9 percent in 2004 to 16.2 percent in 2008. But if you don't keep working on it, it likely will go up again."

And if it does, she says, more people will get sick, health care costs will rise, and everything ALADC has achieved since its inception in the early 1900s could be lost.

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