Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Georgia Ranks 43rd in Protecting Kids from Tobacco

/PRNewswire/ -- Georgia ranks 43rd in the nation in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit, according to a national report released today by a coalition of public health organizations.

Georgia currently spends $2 million a year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is 1.8 percent of the $116.5 million recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other key findings for Georgia include:

* Georgia this year will collect $369 million from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just 0.6 percent of it on tobacco prevention programs.
* The tobacco companies spend $426.4 million a year to market their products in Georgia. This is 209 times what the state spends on tobacco prevention.

The annual report on states' funding of tobacco prevention programs, titled "A Broken Promise to Our Children: The 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 12 Years Later," was released by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

In addition to its lack of funding for tobacco prevention, Georgia's cigarette tax is only 37 cents per pack, which is the 48th lowest in the nation and well below the national average of $1.45 per pack. Increasing the cigarette tax is a proven way to reduce smoking, especially among kids.

"Georgia again is one of the most disappointing states and has failed to make the commitment needed to protect kids from tobacco," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "To reduce tobacco use and help balance the state budget at the same time, Governor-elect Deal and the Legislature should raise the tobacco tax and increase funding for tobacco prevention. Even in these difficult budget times, tobacco prevention investment that saves lives and saves money by reducing health care costs."

In Georgia, 16.9 percent of high school students smoke, and 11,400 more kids become regular smokers every year. Each year, tobacco claims 10,500 lives and costs the state $2.25 billion in health care bills.

Nationally, the report finds that most states are failing to adequately fund programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. Altogether, the states have cut funding for these programs to the lowest level since 1999, when they first started receiving tobacco settlement payments. Key national findings of the report include:

* The states this year will collect $25.3 billion from the tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes, but will spend just two percent of it – $517.9 million – on tobacco prevention programs.
* States have cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by nine percent ($51.4 million) in the past year and by 28 percent ($199.3 million) in the past three years.
* Only two states – Alaska and North Dakota – currently fund tobacco prevention programs at the CDC-recommended level.

The report warns that the nation's progress in reducing smoking is at risk unless states increase funding for programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit. The United States has significantly reduced smoking among both youth and adults, but 20.6 percent of adults and 19.5 percent of high school students still smoke.

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year.

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Semester Finals Bring Added Pressures for College Students on the Road to Alcohol- and Drug-Free Sobriety

/PRNewswire/ -- Research shows that most college campuses continue to struggle with the prevalence of alcohol and other drug-use problems. For those collegians just out of treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction, the danger of relapse in this type of environment can be significant—and only exacerbated by the stress and anxiety associated with taking final semester exams. However, The Center for Addiction Recovery, a joint partnership between Willingway Hospital and Georgia Southern University, is proving successful at lowering the risk for recovering students, both during finals and throughout the year.

Housed on campus within The Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health (JPHCOPH), the Center has enrolled 44 students since its opening in August 2008. This past spring, the Center graduated its first class—one that boasted an average institutional GPA of 3.74—and became the first on-campus recovery initiative to record a zero number of relapses for students within the program.

"The main issue facing a collegiate recovering population is lack of structured addiction and recovery programs, particularly those built on peer support," said Kristen Harper, M.Ed., director of the Center for Addiction Recovery. "Our partnership with Willingway Hospital, through its Foundation, has allowed us to afford recovering students the opportunity to enjoy and leverage the full collegiate experience while minimizing the risk of relapse that often peaks during stressful periods such as exam weeks. The fact that we've had a relapse rate of zero percent within the program speaks volumes to the difference a strong on-site support system can make. These types of numbers are simply unheard of on college campuses."

Almost 25 percent of all individuals entering drug or alcohol treatment in the United States are between the ages of 17 and 26.(1) It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 students in recovery currently attending a college or university.(2) Yet, there are only eight collegiate campuses that offer full-blown addiction recovery programs.

"This is a miniscule number if you consider that there are approximately 7,000 higher education institutions, enrolling more than 15 million students," said Harper.

As More People Ages 17-26 Enter Treatment, Colleges Need to Do More

The Willingway Foundation, the non-profit affiliate of Willingway Hospital, donated start-up funding to initially develop the Center and continues to drive fundraising efforts that contribute to the daily operations. The long-term goal of the Willingway Foundation is to generate enough funding so that the Center will be known as the Dot and John Mooney Center for Addiction Recovery.

"The Willingway staff is enthusiastic about the success of the Center," said Jimmy Mooney, CEO of Willingway Hospital and board member of the Willingway Foundation. "It is such a reward for our staff to see the other side of addiction, which is recovery in process, with alcoholics and addicts going on to lead productive lives and doing things like returning to college and becoming contributing members of our community. The Center for Addiction Recovery assists with this process, and we are thrilled to be able to support them in their efforts."

Recent graduate Joshua H.* credits the Center for providing the necessary programs and services that facilitated his academic success. The 25-year-old Kentuckian received treatment for alcoholism as an inpatient at Willingway Hospital initially as an 18-year-old. He later enrolled in a private college in Kentucky and relapsed a year later, returning to Willingway Hospital for additional treatment. Willingway staff helped facilitate his enrollment at Georgia Southern, which he entered with a 2.6 GPA. He graduated with a degree in psychology and an institutional GPA of 3.5. He is attending law school at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., this fall.

"After unsuccessfully trying to make a go of it at another school that offered no support system for recovering students, I can absolutely say The Center for Addiction Recovery at Georgia Southern was a key element to my college success," said Joshua H. "The Center helped me build my self-confidence, develop important decision-making skills and foster healthier, more supportive relationships. These are all things I can use as I move into the next phase of my life."

About Willingway Hospital

Willingway Hospital is a privately owned, 40-bed hospital specializing in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction. Founded in 1971 by the late John Mooney, Jr., M.D. and his wife, the late Dot Mooney, the hospital is recognized as one of the first treatment facilities in the United States. It is located in Statesboro, Ga., on a serene and wooded 11-acre campus. Willingway offers a full range of services including assessments, medical detoxification, inpatient/residential, intensive outpatient, family counseling, extended treatment for men and women and continuing care. For more information, visit

* In support of the traditions that coincide with 12-step recovery programs, we keep any references to, media interviews with and images of patients in treatment or recovery anonymous.

(1) Cleveland, Harris & Wiebe, "Substance Abuse Recovery in College," 2010.

(2) Harris, Baker, Kimball, Shumway, "Achieving Systems-based Sustained Recovery: A Comprehensive Model for Collegiate Recovery Communities," 2005.

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YSC Atlanta Awarded Grant to Further EMPOWER! Program

/PRNewswire/ -- Young Survival Coalition's Atlanta Affiliate was recently awarded a $42,640 grant from the Georgia Cancer Coalition and Georgia ACTS (Access, Care, Treatment and Services) Breast Cancer Grant Program, a program of the Georgia Department of Community Health. This program provides grants to organizations which offer breast health awareness, breast cancer screening and treatment to underserved women.

Funding from the Georgia Department of Community Health will allow YSC Atlanta to expand the reach of the EMPOWER! program, specifically focused on reducing health disparities by promoting breast cancer awareness among uninsured or underinsured young women in Fulton County. YSC Atlanta will use grant funding to specifically target uninsured or underinsured minority women ages 18-40 in Fulton County with a strong emphasis on the southern part of the county located below Interstate 20. As evidenced in the Georgia Health Equity Report, Fulton County is one of 16 counties in the state with the greatest health challenges for minorities. Young women in this area will greatly benefit from receiving culturally appropriate breast health education and resources.

YSC Atlanta is among 12 Georgia-based community organizations awarded part of the $996,939 funding.

For more information about the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), visit

Young Survival Coalition is based in New York with nearly 30 affiliates across the United States. YSC is the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women and breast cancer. YSC offer resources, connections, and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful. YSC seeks to educate and influence the medical, research, breast cancer and legislative communities to address breast cancer in young women, and to ensure that no young women diagnosed with breast cancer has to face the disease alone. YSC Atlanta is the largest affiliate in the country, serving 11 counties in the metro area. For more information about the Young Survival Coalition Atlanta, visit or call 404.250.6508.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

UGA Extension Implements New Delivery System

In mid-October, administrators with University of Georgia Cooperative Extension announced a new system for delivering its educational programs. That new system uses set criteria to assign each of Georgia’s 159 counties to one of six service tiers. Each tier represents what kinds and levels of service counties will receive from UGA Extension.

Implementation of the system is underway and is expected take 12 to 18 months to complete.
“Our aim with this new plan was to do all we can to ensure Georgians have access to the education and information they need from us,” said Beverly Sparks, associate dean for Extension with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “It was clear with our new budget reality we had to redesign how that education was delivered.”

UGA Extension is the public service and outreach branch of the UGA colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Family and Consumer Sciences. For more than 100 years, it has delivered research-based education from the university to agricultural producers, families and, through Georgia 4-H, children.

“Cooperative Extension may take on a new look and feel in your county, but we will do our best to continue delivering the reliable service and education across the state that you know and trust,” Sparks said.

New look and feel

Over the past two years, all Georgia state agencies have suffered budget reductions. UGA Extension’s cut has grown to 23 percent. “When you have eliminated 88 county agent, 19 state specialist and seven administrator positions, you can no longer continue to do more with less,” Sparks said. “The time has come that we have to do what we can with what we have. We have chosen to focus on what we do best.”

Under the new system, every county will have access to a 4-H program. Most counties will have a county Extension office where residents can go for help. Support varies by tier.

Tier 1 counties include Chattahoochee and Taliaferro. These counties will have no local Extension office but will have a basic 4-H program offered in the school system through an employee supervised by an agent in another county.

Tier 2 counties include Brantley, Charlton, Clay, Crawford, Dade, Hancock, Heard, Long, Pickens, Quitman, Talbot, Towns, Twiggs and Wilkinson. These counties will have a core 4-H program and a county Extension office with an office manager to help residents access diagnostic services (soil, water and forage samples) and Extension resources. A county extension coordinator from another county will serve as administrator. Agents will be assigned as resources but will not generally offer programs or make client visits.

Tier 3 counties include Atkinson, Clinch, Dawson, Fannin, Franklin, Glascock, Jones, Lincoln, Pike, Marion, Meriwether, Rabun, Schley, Stewart, Taylor, Webster and White. These counties will have a core 4-H program, a county office staffed with an office manager and a shared agent from a surrounding county who spends time in the office.

Tier 4 counties include Baker, Baldwin, Barrow, Ben Hill, Brooks, Bryan, Butts, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cook, Dooly, Echols, Emanuel, Greene, Haralson, Harris, Irwin, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Lamar, Lee, Liberty, McIntosh, Macon, Miller, Montgomery, Murray, Newton, Peach, Polk, Terrell, Treutlen, Troup, Upson, Warren, Wilcox and Worth. These counties will have a 4-H program, a county office with a secretary, one county-based agent who may be agriculture, family and consumer science, 4-H or split between these program areas.

Tier 5 counties include Bacon, Banks, Bartow, Berrien, Bleckley, Calhoun, Camden, Candler, Carroll, Cherokee, Clarke, Columbia, Coweta, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Douglas, Early, Effingham, Evans, Fayette, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Grady, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Jackson, Jasper, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Lumpkin, McDuffie, Madison, Mitchell, Monroe, Morgan, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Paulding, Pierce, Pulaski, Putnam, Randolph, Screven, Seminole, Spalding, Stephens, Tattnall, Telfair, Thomas, Toombs, Turner, Union, Walker, Walton, Ware, Wayne, Wheeler, Whitfield and Wilkes. These counties will have a 4-H program, a county office staffed with at least one support position and two or more agents – one a county coordinator -- to provide educational programs.

Tier 6 counties include Appling, Bibb, Bulloch, Burke, Chatham, Clayton, Cobb, Coffee, Colquitt, DeKalb, Dougherty, Elbert, Forsyth, Fulton, Glynn, Gwinnett, Henry, Houston, Laurens, Muscogee, Richmond, Rockdale, Tift, Sumter and Washington. These counties will have a full-time coordinator with multiple agents.

The tier rankings were determined by district Extension leadership teams, Sparks said. Under the new tier system, 126 Georgia counties are classified in Tiers 4-6, which means they will have county offices, agents and 4-H programs.

“I think our stakeholders understand the very difficult situation we’re dealing with, with the state budget, and I think they understand that we have very limited resources,” Sparks said. “Now if you’re in one of those Tier 1, 2 or 3 counties you may not be as pleased with us as if you’re in a Tier 4, 5 or 6 county. But, again, I think this plan is flexible and allows us, as resources return, to build back and bring those 1, 2 and 3 tiers up to a higher tier.”

By J Faith Peppers
University of Georgia

Image credit: Angela Rowell/ UGA.

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Macy’s Invites You to Find Your Magic This Holiday Season with Beloved Holiday Traditions across the Country

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Year after year, Macy’s (NYSE:M) brings the magic of the Christmas season to our shoppers with a tradition of holiday events in cities across the country. Macy’s will celebrate this most magical time of the year with special events and displays awaited by children and adults alike, from the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Union Square in San Francisco, to the unveiling of the holiday windows at Macy’s State Street in Chicago to the anxiously awaited Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® in New York!

“In cities across the country, Macy’s creates a magical setting to inspire the joy and goodwill of the holiday season with traditions our communities eagerly await every year,” said Martine Reardon, executive vice president of marketing, Macy’s. “At Macy’s, we always seek to help our shoppers find their magic, whether through an encounter with Santa, the anticipation of a tree lighting or through the beautiful artistry of a store window. Our third annual Believe campaign, which benefits Make-A-Wish, provides us the opportunity to share the charitable and magical message of the season year after year.”

The holiday festivities Macy’s proudly presents in Atlanta include:

Thanksgiving Night, Nov. 25, 2010 at 7 p.m.

For more than six decades, generations of Atlantans have welcomed the holiday season on Thanksgiving night with the lighting of the Macy's Great Tree at Lenox Square Mall. The 63rd annual event kicks off with a show featuring performances by Katharine McPhee, Chuck Wicks and Macy's Rising Star Bobby V. and includes a fireworks finale as the tree is lit! Crowds of more than 100,000 are drawn each year for the spectacular event as a special Thanksgiving tradition.

Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010 – Sunday Jan. 2, 2011

The Pink Pig is back this holiday season at Macy's at Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta. The beloved tradition rides again beginning Oct. 30, 2010 and will run through Jan. 2, 2011. Since its 1953 debut as a children's ride at the downtown department store Rich's, five generations of Atlantans have ridden the Pink Pig and worn the signature 'I Rode the Pink Pig' sticker with pride to kick-off the holiday season. True to tradition, a portion of the proceeds from each ride will benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Each ride costs $3 and repeat rides have a special discounted price (2 rides for $5.50, 3 rides for $7.50).

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Where's My Stimulus Package? We Hear You America!

Editor Note:  Come on Georgia!  Let's let the world know how great we are!

/PRNewswire/ -- Escalating unemployment, record foreclosures, an increase in the poverty level. The bad economic news doesn't seem to be stopping and the repercussions of the recession are being felt throughout the country. Reader's Digest, the world's largest global editorial brand, has a response: "We Hear You America. And we want to help."

Beginning today, Reader's Digest launches a national, grassroots campaign designed to help Americans and their hometowns with stimulus packages. The six-month long "We Hear You America" campaign will result in 100 U.S. towns, cities and people benefiting from more than $5 million worth of promotion and financial support to stimulate tourism, civic works, job growth and economic development, it was announced by Dan Lagani, President, Reader's Digest Media.

"'We Hear You America' is all about giving back to the people, towns and cities across the country that have meant so much to Reader's Digest all these years - We can't think of a better way to use the power of the Reader's Digest Brand than to turn it over to the people to tell their stories and to help their communities get back on their feet again," commented Lagani.

By going online, logging on to, typing in the name of their town and clicking on the word "cheer," anyone over age 18 in the continental U.S. will be eligible to receive a stimulus package. Individuals are encouraged to upload photos of their towns, describe their needs, talk about why their towns are "Best in America" or even comment on other submissions. The Reader's Digest "We Hear You America" program will provide stimulus to the towns that "cheer" the loudest (receive the most votes).

Additionally, as an added incentive, individuals will be entered into a sweepstakes to win a family vacation to anywhere in the continental U.S. and a brand new car to take them there. Details are provided at

The stimulus packages will be a combination of money to be presented in person to the town mayors, national coverage in Reader's Digest editorial and local media attention.

Phase two of the program will kick off in mid-January with Reader's Digest's 100 towns in 100 days U.S. tour, coinciding with the previously announced relaunch of Reader's Digest magazine on digital platforms (including the new website Reader's Digest Version, an iPad app and the eNewsletter Reader's Digest Best You.)

"We understand this may be a difficult time for many Americans and we're happy to reach out in this way," said Lisa Sharples, president, Reader's Digest Community. "We aim to provide the greatest value to our community while offering our content to the nation in any format that they want, whenever they want it."

"The We Hear You America effort culminates with our annual 'Best of America' issue in May 2011, and promises to be our most inspiring and affecting one in the series," added Peggy Northrop, Reader's Digest Global Editor-in-Chief.

RDA is a global multi-brand media and marketing company that educates, entertains and connects audiences around the world. The company builds multi-platform communities based on branded content. With offices in 44 countries, it reaches a customer base of 130 million in 78 countries. It publishes 92 magazines, including 50 editions of Reader's Digest, the world's largest-circulation magazine, operates 78 branded websites and sells 40 million books, music and video products across the world each year. Further information about the company can be found at

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