Educating Poway on the Dangers of Smoking is Priority # 1 For Public Health Specialist

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Her dream career was to become a nurse practitioner, but when Pierra Moise took an introductory public health course during her undergraduate studies, she discovered a new love: public health.

“Public health is prevention, self-care, mental health and improving the quality of life,” she says. “I am very passionate about networking with people to find free resources to help those in need. “

Her passion for helping people in this way has been recognized by civic organizations and local elected officials, including the Poway Chamber of Commerce, which recently recognized her for her service to the community through the various lung health initiatives that she has to offer. ‘She pilots as a health promotion specialist for the American Lung Association.

Moise, 31, lives in the Del Cerro neighborhood of San Diego and has taken the time to talk about his work with the American Lung Association, educating the public about vaping and smoke-free outdoor dining, and ” supervise secondary school students.

Question: You coordinate virtual community forums on vaping and smoke-free outdoor dining. What kind of information, in particular, do you provide to the public on these issues?

A: As an educator, I educate the Poway community on the American Lung Association’s State of Tobacco Control 2021 report. Poway currently has an overall rating of “F”. The smoke-free bill is divided into four components, including smoke-free outdoor air, smoke-free housing, reduced sales of tobacco products, and bonus points for emerging issues. There are over 120 municipalities in California that ban smoking in all outdoor dining areas, including 11 in San Diego County. Sadly, Poway is one of those towns that still does not have a smoke-free outdoor dining policy.

We also have respirologists from our mission committee and a young vaping prevention advocate as special speakers for the virtual community forums. Respirologists present information to the Poway community on e-cigarettes / vaping devices, e-liquids, disguised vaping devices that young teens use in schools, variety of fruity flavors of e-liquids used in vaping devices, exposure to second-hand / third-hand smoke, and smoke – free outdoor meals in restaurants and bars.

Question: What are your goals for these virtual community forums? What will ultimately be the outcome of each forum?

A: My goal for the Virtual Community Forums is to make the community aware that most cities in San Diego County have a smoke-free outdoor dining policy, but the City of Poway does not. I listened to the community’s concerns about smoke-free outdoor dining, vaping, and second-hand smoke, and discussed solutions to correct these issues.

Another objective is to make parents / guardians better understand the prevalence of vaping in middle and high schools, and to discuss solutions to educate students about the harmful effects of vaping and hookah on their health.

Ultimately I hope the residents of Poway spread the word and take action. Residents, business owners and others can attend city council meetings and voice their opinions, or write letters of support expressing their opinions on this issue and send those letters to elected officials in the city. I hope all residents of Poway will have the right to breathe clean air to protect their lungs.

Question: You also help direct eight high school students as part of the organization’s public health and policy work experience project. What can you tell us about this particular project, and what is it all about?

A: The goal of our volunteer project is to involve local youth in the Poway Unified School District in protecting their city from the effects of smoking. Students will support the association in its efforts to reduce smoking and vaping through education and the development of a smoke-free outdoor dining policy for restaurant terraces in Poway. This volunteer project is valuable for students interested in academic majors or careers in public health, medicine, nonprofit work, education and government, and public policy. Seven juniors and a high school student from Del Norte high school were interested in our volunteering project, and all students were selected. The students have completed two to five hours of volunteer service, and the project lasts eight weeks.

Students were assigned activities throughout the project, with the option of choosing to participate in any assigned activities. They attended an orientation led by myself and a colleague, and also attended additional support letter training that I facilitated with another colleague.

After students drafted their letters supporting our awareness work on vaping and smoke-free al fresco dining, they received feedback and learned where to submit their letters. On June 15 (California reopens day), students read their letters to their elected officials during the public comment portion of the Poway City Council meeting. Other students at Poway High School also read their own letters at the July 20 city council meeting. They said the work they learned to do impacted society and gave them an experience they wouldn’t have had in school, and that they felt empowered as Californians by participating in this volunteer work.

Towards the end of this project, we had a small celebration for them where they received certificates of appreciation and recognition from the Lung Association and Senator Brian Jones’ office in El Cajon.

Question: Are there things you learned from the students of the project?

A: I learned a lot from the students. The students’ writing skills were exceptional and they shared personal life experiences and stories about vaping in their schools.

Question: You have been recognized for your work with certificates and awards from elected government officials and community and advocacy organizations. What does it mean to you to be recognized for your work in this way?

A: It means my hard work has paid off, it shows my passion, dedication, leadership and love for the community. It shows how much impact I have had on the Poway community in such a short time. I love what I do and it is inspiring the community, listening to their needs and creating impactful changes to have a healthier community. The award and certificates are just a reminder that I did my job well and will continue to do so.

Question: What was difficult about your job?

A: The most difficult part of my job is only to educate the community, not to advocate. It was difficult to engage community members in city council meetings and provide public comment or write letters of support. It has also been difficult to educate restaurant owners / managers on the dangers of secondhand smoke, vaping, and the benefits of smokeless outdoor dining.

Question: What has been rewarding about this job?

A: The most rewarding part of my job is leading students and inspiring them to become leaders in the community.

Question: What did this job teach you about yourself?

A: Much of the work was very new to me. Speaking in public and working in politics are things that I have always been afraid to do, but I have learned to become more involved and to express my opinions to elected officials. This work has made me stronger as an individual. It taught me leadership skills, how to become a better speaker, opened my mind and taught me a lot about politics.


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