OCCHY welcomes Cook County Health Department reps
CICERO, IL [OCCHY-Chicago/MW Diocese Communications] — Officers of the Cook County Department of Public Health [CCDPH] were welcomed to the offices of the Orthodox Christian Coalition for Healthy Youth [OCCHY] at Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church, Cicero, IL on June 8, 2016.
“The purpose of our meeting was to advise and educate CCDPH representatives on what Hookah tobacco is and its smoking hazards,” said Gordana Trbuhovich, OCCHY Program Director, who with Father Joseph Abouid, OCCHY Assistant and Youth Pastor at Saint George’s, met with Aesha Binion, MPH, Tobacco Health Educator for CCDPH and Deanna Durica, MPH, Director of the Healthy Homes Unit. “They had grown curious about Hookah after observing so many Hookah businesses populating Cook County neighborhoods and college campuses. We were delighted to explain that OCCHY’s federal grant was based on raising an awareness of this substance which had, until recently, been ‘under the radar.’
“The CCDPH representatives were shown actual Hookah tobacco and charcoal as Father Joseph explained how it is lit, inhaled, and smoked,” Gordana continued. “OCCHY’s publications on Hookah Risks were also shared. Our coalition’s goals are to obtain legislation to identify Hookah as a tobacco form and to regulate its sales — especially to minors — under the same laws as other tobaccos.
“CCDPH representatives were most surprised when shown Hookah sales receipts, listing the purchases as ‘miscellaneous’ with no tax charge,” Gordana added.
In May 2016, Gordana presented a Hookah Health Risks report to the Lake County Department of Health, whose youth coalition maintains an active relationship with OCCHY.
“In 2014, Chicago’s Department of Public Health, used OCCHY input and expertise to convince Chicago’s City Council to include the term ‘flavored’ along with menthol tobaccos to the restriction of prohibiting tobacco sales within 500 feet from public school grounds,” explained Gordana.
At the conclusion of the meeting, CCDPH’s officers invited OCCHY to offer a Hookah presentation for the Northeastern Illinois Tobacco Control Network.
OCCHY is anticipating its sixth year of serving the Greater Chicago pan-Orthodox community under the federal Drug Free Communities grant awarded to Saint George Church. OCCHY is a member of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
In related news, OCCHY will offer a presentation to participants in the “Youth Council” slated to take place during the annual Convention of the Fellowship of Orthodox Christians in America at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 23. The convention will be held in Rosemont, IL. See related story with a detailed convention schedule.