Quitting smoking can be hard, but with the help of Hancock Health staff members, like Brandee Bastin, you can find the support to quit for good. Brandee is Hancock Health’s Tobacco Initiative Coordinator, as well as the Coordinator of the Hancock County Tobacco-Free Coalition! We love having Brandee on the Healthy365 team, with her passion serving for Hancock County and its community.
Twenty years with Hancock Health
Brandee has worked in the field of tobacco cessation at Hancock County for almost 20 years. She came on as the Tobacco Initiative Coordinator, and has been the leader of our local Tobacco-Free Coalition since its inception in May of 2002. When Healthy365 was founded in 2019, she was brought onto the team since the tobacco prevention message aligned so closely with their mission to improve community wellness. Brandee also holds a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist accreditation from the Mayo Clinic, and has received several local and statewide awards for her work in tobacco control.
A passion for tobacco prevention
“I have a heart and passion for tobacco prevention and cessation, and that’s why I have been in my role for almost two decades,” explained Brandee. “I have a strong family history of tobacco use. Fortunately, my parents and I never smoked or used tobacco products, but I lost 3 out of my 4 grandparents and many other family members to tobacco-related disease.”
Brandee has seen first-hand the negative health effects of smoking or being exposed to tobacco products, and has used her role to try and help create a tobacco-free generation, and an environment where individuals don’t have to relive their family history. “It’s very rewarding to be on the front lines of creating a healthier community, where people can go out in public and not be exposed to the number one cause of death and disease in our country,” she said. And in fact, Hancock County has the strongest smoke-free air law in the entire state of Indiana.
Education and mentorship in schools
Brandee also loves the opportunity that her role provides to go into schools and other local groups to educate youth about healthy decisions. “We go in to do tobacco and vaping prevention programs, raising awareness and trying to encourage them to not start,” she said. Brandee also mentors high school students through the VOICE youth movement against the tobacco industry. Brandee and the students involved with VOICE support peer-to-peer education and advocacy, host events throughout the year and meet with legislators about tobacco prevention and awareness.
Support for tobacco cessation
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person tobacco cessation classes at Healthy365 have been put on hold, but there are still a number of available resources to quit smoking. The Tobacco-Free Coalition encourages those trying to stop smoking to call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Hancock Health is a preferred provider, which means clients can be referred to the quitline for free quitting resources, counseling appointments for ages 13 and up, as well as four free weeks of nicotine replacement therapy. There is also special programming for pregnant individuals, youth, and those with behavioral health conditions. The quitline providers stay in touch with clients for continuous encouragement via phone, text or online communication.
Coming together as a community
For Brandee, living and working in Hancock County has been an important part of her life for the last two decades. “There are so many opportunities to be involved in things to better the community,” she said. “And I love the way it pulls together, the way that you can network and get to know people.” Brandee especially appreciates how Healthy365 came together to meet the needs of our community, whether it’s mental health, food insecurity, pulling together during COVID-19 to work hotlines, partnering with churches, nonprofits and more. “It’s rewarding to see people really care about our community,” said Brandee. “I think that’s one of the best things that Hancock County has to offer.”
If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have? “The ability to see the future.”
What is your favorite Indiana season and why? “My favorite Indiana seasons are summer and fall, I enjoy both. I have two children and I love to have them home and spend more time with them. My daughter plays travel softball so I enjoy traveling the circuit with her in the summer and fall and making those memories as a family.”
What is your favorite way to kick off a Monday? “Going to Starbucks and getting my favorite strawberry acai refresher to start my day and my week.”
What’s your most recent favorite read or movie? “I’m a big Hallmark movie fan, and so I enjoy watching the new Hallmark Christmas movies.”