Wednesday, April 3, 2013

2012 Public Health Champions of the Year - Tobacco Prevention

Jefferson County, Colorado--Public Health is what we as a society do collectively to prevent illness and premature death and promote health in our communities. Each year, during National Public Health Week, April 1-7, 2013, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) honors some of the many people it works with throughout the year that help to make our county healthy. While they may not have made public health their profession, the work they do, the partnerships they provide and their enthusiasm for protecting the health of Jefferson County residents makes them the 2012 Public Health Champions of the Year.
  • Reducing Tobacco’s Toll through Community Coalitions: Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge Coalition representatives: Sarah Davis, Chair and members, Lynnette Namba and Dr. Lorrie Odom; Healthy Unincorporated Jeffco Coalition Chair, John Coles; and, BE Team student representatives: Lakewood High School senior, Carissa Leeper and Golden High School graduates, Hannah Fritz and Beau Hogan.
Community coalitions play a huge role in the battle against tobacco. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and through the first hand experiences of JCPH Tobacco Prevention Program staff, coalitions help transform the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of tobacco users and nonusers by changing the way tobacco is promoted, sold, and used. Through advocacy and education, tobacco prevention coalitions play a critical role in exposing the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing tactics as well as, in mobilizing communities to develop and implement policies and programs.

This year’s public health champions for tobacco prevention represent two community coalitions, Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge and Healthy Unincorporated Jeffco and two youth coalitions, the Breathe Easy teams at Lakewood High School and Golden High School. These 2012 Public Health Champions all played key roles in their communities advancing important tobacco prevention and control work.

The Breathe Easy Wheat Ridge Coalition, represented by Sarah Davis, Lynnette Namba and Dr. Lorrie Odom helped with community awareness and outreach and worked to educate local policymakers on the issue of secondhand smoke and the benefits of stronger smoke-free public places laws. The members of Healthy Unincorporated Jeffco, represented by Chair, John Coles, worked to build community support for a stronger smoke-free law in the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County. The coalition successfully doubled the number of residents who signed endorsements for comprehensive smoke-free protections in their community. The youth coalitions, Breathe Easy Teams at Golden and Lakewood High Schools, worked diligently to support the passing of 2 local ordinances during 2012. Golden’s BE Team, represented by graduates Hannah Fritz and Beau Hogan successfully advocated for an ordinance reducing youth access to tobacco. The Golden ordinance requires licensing of tobacco retailers and proof of identification for all tobacco purchases, regardless of customer age for non-cigarette tobacco. The ordinance also requires that clerks selling non-cigarette tobacco be at least 18 years old.

Lakewood’s BE Team, represented by senior, Carissa Leeper successfully advocated for a stronger smoke-free ordinance in their community of Lakewood. The Lakewood ordinance extends smoke-free entranceways to 25 feet and requires that all outdoor transit waiting areas, playgrounds, athletic fields and gathering places in parks and city events be smoke-free. These seven tobacco prevention Public Health Champions have helped to reduce the toll of tobacco on our communities and helped to shape tobacco-free norms, making tobacco not only less desirable and less acceptable but also less accessible. Congratulations to all of the community coalitions working on tobacco prevention and control in Jefferson County.

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