Tobacco use in Hamilton County is consistently voted as one of the healthiest counties in the state of Indiana, but despite immense progress in tobacco cessation there is still a small portion of the population that Holly Wheeler and her team are still fighting. From the small percentage of adult smokers to the younger generation that needs the message just as much, Wheeler and PHHC devote efforts to preventing youth smoking, decreasing the number of Hoosiers exposed to secondhand smoke, decreasing adult smoking rates and building a network of community partners. Read more about Hamilton County PHHC.
Interview recorded on August 23, 2017. Hosted by Taylor Bennett. Part 1 of 1.
Read a partial transcript of the interview here:
Bennett: One of those healthy behaviors that we are talking about is the county’s low rate of smokers…tell me about that.
Wheeler: Hamilton County has the lowest smoking rate in the state of Indiana. We are at 12%; maybe a little higher than that, but that equates to about 24,000 people that do smoke on a regular basis; just adults. About 1 in 4 youth in Indiana use some kind of tobacco product.
Bennett: When you look at youth prevention, what are you looking at?
Wheeler: The landscape of tobacco has greatly changed in the past few years. It has been necessary for the tobacco industry to look at their products because smoking traditional cigarettes is becoming less common. They have introduced several new products like e-Cigarettes and dissolvable tablets that are all nicotine delivery systems. We try to help kids understand that those products are not different, not safer.
Bennett: Smoke-free Hamilton County recently received a grant. Tell me what you plan to do with that money.
Wheeler: This is a renewal of our grant; it’s for two years. Our plans for Hamilton County revolve around youth prevention, as I mentioned, but we also look a lot at policy and system’s change. indianapolis, for example, has a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance for indoor air. that includes bars, clubs, VFW halls, etc.. No city in Hamilton County has that. We want to push for that to show other cities how important it is to look at indoor air. It’s the best way to protect people.
Bennett: Do you expect push back?
Wheeler: We have a lot of hope because of Carmel and Westfield. They both established what the state has as a law long before the state did. We look to them as leaders. That’s what’s great about Hamilton County is that we have progressive cities and innovative mayors along with few cities that allow smoking.
Do you or someone you know want to quit smoking? You’re not alone, call 1-800-Quit-Now or visit Quit Now Indiana for help and further information.