Health Commissioner Novello Announces 26,000 Anti-Smoking Berenstain Bears Books to 1,100 Public Libraries Statewide

Dr. Novello Meets with Second Graders at Public School 38 in East Harlem to Discuss the Health Risks Associated With Smoking Cigarettes

Albany, October 7, 2002 - State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H. today announced that the State is distributing 26,000 copies of a popular children's animated book series, The Berenstain Bear Scouts and The Sinister Smoke Ring, to more than 1,100 public libraries across the State.

The distribution of the books to libraries will provide information to young school–aged children to help convince them not to smoke and to better inform them and their parents about the ill effects associated with tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

Governor Pataki said, "Informing parents and convincing school–age children that they should not smoke is a key component of the State's tobacco control program. New York has one of the largest anti–smoking campaigns in the nation – $60 million – and a large focus of our campaign is to educate children about the importance and health–related benefits of living smoke free–lives.

Providing our children with the best health care in New York is one of our highest priorities. As a result of programs like Child Health Plus and the more than 170 school–based health centers statewide receiving record levels of funding this year, hundreds of thousands of children are getting the health care they need and deserve to help them grow up healthy and strong."

"Thanks to Governor Pataki's leadership, New York has one of the largest tobacco control programs in the nation and it is helping get the message out that smoking kills. We believe that children are New York's most valuable resource," Dr. Novello said. "By providing these books to each and every public library in the State at no cost, it will serve as one of the most effective ways to capture the attention of our children and their parents and further stress the importance of living healthy lifestyles and not to smoke."

State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello today met with a classroom of second–graders at Public School 38 in East Harlem (located at 232 East 103rd Street) to talk about the health risks associated with smoking cigarettes and the dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke. Dr. Novello read a passage from the special New York State edition of the Berenstain Bears book to students as a way to reinforce the message that living smoke–free lives will increase their likelihood of growing up healthy.

As part of the Governor's historical $60 million anti–smoking campaign, the State Health Department, in conjunction with Scholastic Inschool Solutions, this week will begin distributing an additional 26,000 editions of the book, written by Stan and Jan Berenstain, to 1,123 public libraries statewide.

The State's expanded mailing of the book to public libraries follows a March 2002 mailing of more than 330,000 copies of the book in English and Spanish to approximately 10,000 public, private and parochial elementary schools across New York State. The mailing specifically targeted second–graders and included 30,000 Spanish books specifically targeting those schools in which a majority of students' primary language is Spanish. Since 2000, the State has distributed more than 1.3 million copies of the book, in English and Spanish, to public, private and parochial elementary schools statewide.

The program was created by the State Health Department and Scholastic Inschool Solutions in 2000 to help second–grade students understand the importance of avoiding the use of tobacco, and to alert parents to the dangers of secondhand smoke. Each book contains information for parents about the dangers of secondhand smoke and precautions they can take to protect their children.

To obtain copies of The Berenstain Bear Scouts and the Sinister Smoke Ring in English and Spanish, free–of–charge, write to: Bear Scouts, Box 2000, Albany, NY 12220.

10/7/02–108 OPA