Julie Chobdee Wins American Public Health Association’s College-Based Leadership Award

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Honor recognizes outstanding effort in a college-based campaign to reduce alcohol, tobacco or other drug use among college-age students

By Ross French on August 19, 2014

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UCR Wellness Coordinator Julie Chobdee (right), seen here with Professor of Bioengineering Victor Rodgers at the UCR Smokeout in 2013, has received the American Public Health Association's College-Based Leadership Award for 2014.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. —In recognition of her efforts to help eliminate on-campus tobacco use across the University of California system, UCR Wellness Program Coordinator Julie Chobdee has been named recipient of the American Public Health Association’s 2014 College-Based Leadership Award.

The award recognizes individuals for outstanding effort in a college-based campaign to reduce alcohol, tobacco or other drug use among college-age students. Chobdee will receive the award at the organization’s annual meeting in New Orleans, LA on Nov. 18, 2014.

“It’s truly an honor to receive this award and to be recognized for my work leading the UC Smoke/Tobacco-Free efforts,” Chobdee said. “I’m very excited and proud to be part of this public health endeavor and know this has, and will continue to, make a huge impact on the health and safety of our entire UC community.”

sign and mints

Some of the promotional items used to raise awareness about the UC system going tobacco-free on January 2, 2014. Photo by Ross French

Chobdee was a member of the systemwide team of wellness experts that drafted the white paper that convinced then-UC President Mark Yudof to adopt the tobacco-free policy across the 10 university campuses, five medical centers, and three national laboratories. She served as co-chair of the systemwide task force and worked diligently to ensure each campus worked to raise awareness, provide cessation services, and develop implementation and enforcement plans.

“There’s no doubt that in 2014, all UC campuses would have gone 100% smoke/tobacco-free per the mandate from UCOP,” wrote Kimberlee Homer Vagadori, project director for the California Youth Advocacy Network, in her nomination of Chobdee for the award. “However, it is questionable if the campuses would have implemented their policies with such great success if they weren’t led to do so by Julie Chobdee. And, thanks to Julie and her ongoing dedication to this issue, we can rest assured knowing that tobacco will continue to be an important issue at UC until no one is left to be seen using it on UC property.”

At UCR, Chobdee co-chaired the Smoke/Tobacco-Free Policy Implementation Committee with Professor of Bioengineering Victor G.J. Rodgers.

Tim Willette, who served as staff support for the committee, lauded Chobdee’s approach.

“She has understood and continues to recognize that this is not just about implementing a policy,” Willette said. “She knew from the onset that this change in culture would be one that affected other cultures, as well. She has worked and continues to proceeds with a mindset that encourages each and every individual to play a role in making UC smoke-/tobacco-free.”

Chobdee expressed thanks to the many people who assisted in making the program a reality, both at the system level and at UCR.

“It was a huge task but I had the pleasure of working alongside an amazing people on the task force and implementation committee, as well as experts in tobacco control, safety and risk management, and health and wellness,” she said.

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