Group using grant to address tobacco use


Healthy Jackson County has been around for a long time but really started gaining momentum over the last two years.

The group played an active role overseeing the obesity prevention grant in Jackson County from 2016 to 2018. That grant was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When funding from the grant ended last year, the initiative transitioned over to Schneck Medical Center, where Bethany Daugherty is facilitator of the coalition. She also is a health and wellness education specialist and registered dietitian at Schneck.

Daugherty works alongside Susan Zabor, vice president of clinical services at Schneck.

Improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and decreasing tobacco use are the three main focuses of Healthy Jackson County.

Although the obesity grant has ended, Schneck recently received a $75,000 capacity-building grant to improve tobacco prevention and cessation efforts in Jackson County.

Zabor said the grant money will be used for new initiatives that typically couldn’t be funded, and the purpose of the capacity grant is to bring new local partnerships together with a common goal of tobacco prevention and cessation.

“Schneck and HJC were fortunate enough to receive a grant from the Indiana State Department of Health for the next two years,” Daugherty said. “This will be used to address tobacco use in Jackson County, which is an exciting opportunity.”

Daugherty said the grant has allowed Schneck to hire a part-time staff member, Dr. Tosha Cantrell-Bruce, as the tobacco capacity grant coordinator as of this past August.

Cantrell-Bruce is working with the state to make sure the hospital is achieving certain required actions of the grant and reaching out to the community to make tobacco prevention and cessation happen, Zabor said.

“My background and skill set is in collaboration and working through initiatives, and I have worked for public health causes before but not in tobacco,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “I was drawn to the position for that reason, because I wanted to be challenged.”

Before being hired by Schneck, Cantrell-Bruce was an educator with the University of Illinois extension for more than nine years and an assistant professor there for eight years.

She and her husband moved from Illinois to Columbus last month.

While working at the University of Illinois extension office, Bruce never lived in the county where she served.

“It brings a much greater objectivity to your job when you live outside of the county from where you work,” Bruce said. “You’re very passionate about doing what’s best for the project. and you work with an unbiased nature.”

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there are approximately 7,000 adults in Jackson County who smoke, which is about 23% of the population. It’s not just affecting the smokers.

“Secondhand smoke can affect other people, like if someone is smoking downstairs or in another part of the house, others can inhale that,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “You might not be a smoker, but you might be breathing secondhand smoke.”

She said there also is thirdhand smoke when the chemicals from nicotine might land on a table, curtains or bedspread.

“Even if someone opens a window to air out the room, someone can lay a baby down on the bedspread. That baby’s skin has then come into contact with nicotine, which can enter into the blood system,” Cantrell-Bruce said.

“This can happen even if no one has smoked in an apartment recently, but the previous owners were smokers, and a baby is crawling on that carpet, which has been cleaned,” she said. “The chemicals can still get onto the baby’s hands and enter into its system.”

The nearly 7,000 adults who are smoking does not take into account all of the other people who are affected by secondhand and thirdhand smoke from any source of nicotine.

Cantrell-Bruce is ready to hit the ground running with the Decreasing Tobacco Use workgroup, and some of the plans are currently in motion.

“At this point, the workgroup has already just about accomplished the objective of the grant,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “They have been very busy.”

She said there are five priority areas the work group is focusing on for the tobacco capacity grant: Point of sale, tobacco-free campus, multi-unit housing, Quitline and Decreasing Tobacco Use workgroup.

Point of sale

“The goal is to reduce intensive promotion of tobacco at convenience stores,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “Also to educate Jackson County residents about tobacco promotional tactics.”

She said the workgroup already has conducted some community educational workshops. and this spring, they plan to survey a sampling of county retailers.

“We are planning to have a daylong survey Saturday with a standardized tobacco assessment for retail settings survey we have coming out, planned for the whole county in spring of 2020,” Cantrell-Bruce said.

“Multiple civic and youth organizations will be surveying some county retailers,” she said. “They’ll be looking at things like seeing how far away nicotine advertisements are from the candy, confectioneries and things in convenience stores, seeing in what ways they are marketing to kids.”

There will be a community workshop coming up where results from past STARS surveys will be presented to see how Jackson County is doing, then another in the fall with updates of the progress.

Tobacco-free campus

“The goal is to assist school districts with adoption or implementation of comprehensive tobacco policies,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “The workgroup is currently reviewing all school district policies and presenting vaping education in multiple school districts.”

Multi-unit housing

The goal is to reduce exposure of secondhand smoke, particularly within multi-unit housing.

“At least one apartment complex is on board surveying tenants to see what their nicotine usage is,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “Hopefully, we can help make that property smoke-free, create policy and help the establishment implement those policies.”

She said it’s not just to have tenants stop smoking but to see why they are smoking and what can be done to help them.


Indiana Tobacco Quitline is an evidence-based intervention. The Indiana Tobacco Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW (800-784-8669) is a free phone-based counseling service that helps Indiana tobacco users quit.

Quitline is the process of doctors and nurses referring their patients to 1-800-QUIT-NOW, Cantrell-Bruce said.

“Jackson County is in the top 10% of patients in the state being referred to the service by doctors,” she said. “Those patients accept it, receive it and stay in contact with Quitline.”

Decreasing Tobacco Use workgroup

The workgroup provides a multi-prong approach to education, advocacy, referrals and resources for all priority areas.

“We have set our meetings for the next 12 months and are increasing our member numbers,” Cantrell-Bruce said. “We welcome anyone who would like to help make a change, and we would love to see more involvement of youth.”

The first meeting of the new year will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 13 in Room 300 of the Schneck Professional Building, 411 W. Tipton St., Seymour.

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What: Healthy Jackson County Decreasing Tobacco Use workgroup meetings

When: 11:30 to 1 p.m. on the second Monday of every month, beginning Jan. 13

Where: Schneck Professional Building, Room 300, 411 W. Tipton St., Seymour

Who: Anyone interested in decreasing tobacco use in Jackson County

Information: 812-522-0551


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