LOUISVILLE, Ky, December 10, 2020 - Abby Hefner, a junior at McCracken County High School, has been named a Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion for her efforts advocate for policies that help prevent youth tobacco use, after first becoming addicted to e-cigarettes as a freshman.
"Once kicking the habit associated with nicotine addiction, she has become one of the most effective, positive peer forces in advocacy against tobacco," said Pat Withrow, M.D., in nominating Hefner for the award. " She has carried her message not only locally but throughout the state of Kentucky and nationally."
The Champion award is given by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky to recognize
Kentucky individuals and organizations engaged in improving the health of people in their communities and/or the entire Commonwealth through policy change. Withrow is a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors.
Hefner spoke at a Coalition for a Smoke-Free Tomorrow rally in the capitol in Frankfort in January in support of legislation to raise the legal age for tobacco product sales to 21, and also in support of an excise tax on e-cigarettes, or "vapes," as industry calls them. Both bills passed the legislature this year.
Lauren Williams, sponsor of the Taking Down Tobacco program in which Hefner participates at McCracken County High School, added: "[Hefner] also performs positive peer teaching to students at McCracken County High School, Reidland Elementary School, and Concord and Heath Elementary Schools about the dangers of using e-cigarettes. She also has appeared in a video created by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids about the lure of kid-friendly e-cigarette flavors."
Hefner is now eligible for the Gil Friedell Health Policy Champion award, which comes with a $5,000 grant from the Foundation to be given to a Kentucky-based nonprofit of the winner's choice. The winner of the Friedell award will be announced later this month.
Nominations for the Healthy Kentucky Policy Champion Award are accepted at any time. See details on the Foundation's website here.
About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $29 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth.
Bonnie J. Hackbarth