About one in four adults in Douglas County smokes cigarettes a number that mirrors state and national averages.
Health officials said earlier this year that they would like to reduce tobacco use by half here and across the United States by 2010.
The Douglas County statistics are based on a 1998 study, commissioned by the department's Community Health Improvement Project and conducted by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
"It's such a substantial problem for the nation and Douglas County," said Lydia Yu, prevention specialist at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.
To that end, the department has applied for a $30,000 grant through KDHE for tobacco prevention programs.
The new programs would be implemented later this year. CHIP's leadership group selected the topics because they are listed as leading health problems in Healthy People 2010, a document outlining national objectives set by the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Yu said.
Although national organizations have targeted tobacco use through major media campaigns, Baker Anderson said a county-level task force has never worked on it.
"There hasn't been a group together to work on it individually," she said. "That's the difference. We're hoping that maybe when the groups get together, we'll see what we do to tackle these issues."
Yu said the department also wants to work closely with health agencies, such as the hospital or Health Care Access, as well as community residents.
"The problems aren't necessarily always going to be solved by health agencies," she said.
Until the fall of 2002, Yu will work with CHIP as part of a two-year program through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.