COPH doctoral student recognized by the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance Task Force

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Amy Gatto, a USF College of Public Health doctoral student concentrating in health services research, has received a Community Recognition Award from the Hillsborough County Anti-Drug Alliance (HCADA) Task Force.

Gatto, who has been a member of the HCADA’s Tobacco-Free Partnership since 2015 and its chair since 2017, was lauded for her “leadership and selfless service.”

“I’m surprised yet honored to receive the award,” said Gatto, who expects to graduate with her doctoral degree in 2020. “I’ve invested a lot in this partnership, and I am really committed to seeing it grow.”

The HCADA’s Tobacco-Free Partnership is a county-wide coalition working to improve the health of Hillsborough County residents by reducing tobacco use, preventing tobacco use among youth and reducing exposure to second-hand smoke. Coalition members also educate and advocate on tobacco issues—such as the use of e-cigarettes—affecting the community.

Amy Gatto (center) receives Community Recognition Award from the HCADA’s Dr. Diadra Biles (left) and Gary White, MPH. (Photo courtesy of HCADA)

“My role with the partnership is to provide leadership and vision,” said Gatto. “The goal is to move the program forward and engage the community in working to be tobacco free.”

So far, Gatto and the partnership have seen some success. But more needs to be done.

“On the whole, we’ve seen tobacco use decline in the last few years and we’d like to see that continue,” stated Gatto. “New products have come out, such as electronic nicotine-delivery systems [JUUling/vaping], which need work. But overall, there’s a lot of potential for even more tobacco-use reduction and even cessation.”

Gatto received the award in January at the HCADA’s annual awards event, held at the Children’s Board in Tampa.

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health