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Individuals honored for promoting policies or activities, given during National Public Health Week.

PROVO, UTAH (April 2, 2013) - - As part of National Public Health Week, the Utah County Health Department and Board of Health traditionally honors one individual and one organization for their efforts and dedication to the health and welfare of the citizens of Utah County. This year, they are honoring Dr. Eugene C. Cole, Ph.D. and Harmons Grocery Stores.

Photo of Dr. Cole, Dr. Miner, and Bob Harmon

Photo: Dr. Gene Cole, Dr. Joseph Miner, and Bob Harmon.

Dr. Eugene Cole has served as a Professor at Brigham Young University (BYU) since 2002, providing teaching, research, and national and international community outreach in public health. He also conducts applied public health research and investigation aimed at low-cost solutions to important public health problems. Areas of concentration include hygiene promotion/behavior change, indoor environmental quality, exposure assessment, antibiotic resistance, children's health, asthma and allergy prevention and control, occupational health, emergency preparedness and disaster response.

Dr. Cole has served as a valuable asset to the Utah County Health Department's environmental health initiatives. Over the past five years, Dr. Cole has recruited over 250 public health student volunteers to assist at our Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection events. In 2009, Dr. Cole recruited forty BYU environmental health students to assist with our second annual HHW event. This was a huge improvement over the year prior when volunteers were solicited but only one showed up! Without Dr. Cole's assistance, the HHW event would most likely been canceled.

Dr. Cole also serves himself as a dedicated volunteer at these events. He encourages public health students to apply their academic training in practical real-world settings. He has a remarkable history of providing opportunities that benefit both academic students and public health practitioners in collaborative ways. Dr. Cole is also a great resource for our Utah County Asthma Coalition. His knowledge of environmental issues and how they affect asthma is very helpful and he also participates on the Utah Asthma Task Force and an asthma prevention work group.

For his outstanding record of combining academic excellence with practical application and advocacy of Public Health principles in both local and international communities, the Utah County Health Department and Board of Health honor Dr. Eugene Cole with their 2013 Friend of Public Health award.

The Utah County Health Department applauds Harmons grocery stores courageous decision to protect the health of citizens in their communities. Company leaders decided selling tobacco products was at odds with the company's goal of providing healthy, quality food. Because of that disconnect, the company began preparing so that the loss of revenue from those sales wouldn't negatively affect the company or their employees. The stores started using the space tobacco once occupied to expand other services and products like postal service and specialty foods for those with food allergies.

Harmons employees also participate in a wellness plan, and selling tobacco was at odds with the message the company wanted to send to its customers and 2,700 employees.

Harmons began removing tobacco products from stores in June 2011 and was finished less than a year later. The last three stores to be built were all built tobacco-free from the beginning. Harmons management wants their customers to focus on healthy living. Harmons believes that part of their responsibility as a community member and local grocer is to provide the wellness choices that help local families live a healthy lifestyle.

Harmons is Utah's oldest and largest family-owned grocery. This proactive move, in the name of health shows real dedication and foresight by Harmons to create a healthy environment for everyone.

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in America and even in Utah County. Smoking causes more than 443,000 deaths each year. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention, in Utah more than 1,150 Utahans die every year due to tobacco-related illnesses.

Thank you Harmons grocery stores for showing bold leadership and commitment to Public Health by discontinuing the sale of tobacco products in your stores.

"I have often a large part of public health in our communities is done by individuals and agencies who are not part of the public health department," said Dr. Joseph Miner, UCHD executive director. "These are our local partners who are dedicated to improving the health of our communities. Dr. Cole and Harmons represent some of the best among these partners. This is why we honor them as our 'Friends of Public Health.'"

Dr. Cole and representatives from Harmons were presented plaques at the weekly Utah County Commissioners Meeting this morning.

The Utah County Health Department is committed to promoting the health of our community; prevent avoidable disease and injury by monitoring the health of our community; and assuring conditions in which people can be healthy. For information on UCHD programs or services, please visit www.UtahCountyHealth.org or call 801-851-7000. You can also now follow the UCHD at www. FaceBook.com/uchealth, www. Pinterest.com/uchd, or www.twitter.com/uchd.

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High Resolution Photo of Dr. Gene Cole, Dr. Joseph Miner, and Bob Harmon.