Lowry to release public health report; carry message around the state

OLYMPIA -- Jessie Biggs was only 14 years old when she began buying cigarettes as part of a sting operation in small towns around Spokane.

Even though local newspaper articles at the time warned that sting operations involving area youth were underway, about half the stores Jessie visited willingly sold her the products illegally. That was several years ago.

Efforts to enforce the law against selling tobacco products to minors continued in Spokane, and eventually, Jessie and her grandfather, Dr. Dennis Biggs Jr., made a dent in the problem. Today, less than 22 percent of the stores in Spokane still sell cigarettes to underage youth.

At an Olympia news conference tomorrow (June 12) at 9 a.m., the two Biggs family members will help Gov. Mike Lowry kick off three days of events throughout the state to highlight the Washington State Public Health Report. Reducing tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke is one of seven goals outlined in the biennial report, which describes the state's objectives for public health over the next two years. The Olympia event will take place in the governor's conference room.

"The seven goals in the report serve as a blueprint for assuring healthy communities and a healthy state," the governor said. "This information will help us focus our efforts on taking public health issues to every corner of the state so that all citizens can see the important role public health plays in each community."

The seven goals, as outlined in the booklet are:

The Washington State Board of Health produces the report every other year to outline the state's health priorities, and state agencies use the report to prepare budgets and executive request legislation. The report is based on data collected and analyzed from participants around the state, and the seven goals reflect the needs and interests of Washington citizens.

This year's report highlights the efforts of individuals who have worked within their communities to advance public health in the seven goal areas. These "success stories" illustrate how local residents have worked with community groups to reduce disease and disability, reduce the disparity between population groups, and improve the quality of life in Washington.

"We are fortunate to see the benefits of a strong economy and an excellent quality of life in Washington," the governor said. "But we must continue to address health care and health education so that all Washington residents may enjoy the state's economic strength and our outstanding quality of life."

Over the next few days, the governor will travel to six sites around the state to focus on the efforts of residents, like Dr. Biggs and Jessie, who have worked to make a difference in their communities on public health issues. Other cities and individuals include:
June 129 a.m. Olympia. Dr. Dennis Biggs Jr. and Jessie, governor's office conference room. Goal: reducing tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke.
11 a.m.Seattle. Sam Chung, Seattle Korean Community Counseling Center, 302 N. 78th St. Goal: reducing the incidence and preventable consequences of infectious diseases.
1:30 p.m.Yakima. Gloria Mendoza, Jefferson EPIC (Enterprise for Progress in the Community), 902 E. Viola Ave. Goal: assuring access to population-based and personal health services, including health education, preventive services and illness care.
June 139 a.m. Poulsbo. Jeffrey J. Pritchard, Liberty Park, Front Street along the waterfront in Poulsbo. Goal: reducing the incidence of violence and preventable injuries.
2:30 p.m.Sequim. Gary Smith family, Maple Valley Farm, 373 Schmuck Road. Goal: controlling or reducing exposure to hazards in the environment in which we live, work and play.
June 149 a.m. Tacoma. Maurice Martin, Pierce College, VOTE program, 9401 Farwest Dr. SW. Goal: reducing the misuse of alcohol and other drugs.
11 a.m.Ilwaco. Martha Murfin, Hilltop Elementary School Auditorium, 442 Broumbach St. Goal: reducing preventable infant mobility and infant mortality.

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.