Hallie Harbison was the winner of the Clay County Health Department's Tobacco Prevention billboard contest. The 11-year-old Cornerstone Christian Academy student is the daughter of Blain and Audrey Harbison of Brazil.
For the winning poster, Hallie drew a picture of a white ambulance with a red cross and 911 printed on its side. Above the ambulance it reads, "He huffed and puffed and he blew himself down". Laying in the road behind the ambulance is a smoldering cigarette butt and it's laughing.
"He's laughing because he knows he got another victim," Hallie said.
Asked how she felt about people using tobacco, Hallie responded without hesitation.
"It's not that the people are bad," she said. "It's just that the drugs are bad. When they were littler, they probably didn't know it was bad. Some people do know it and still smoke. That's not good.
"I can't stand to be around the smoke, Hallie continued. "I don't like the smell. I think it's like, hard to breathe in it. I like, just want to put my face in my sleeve to breathe. I'd rather breathe body odor than cigarette smoke."
The annual contest is used by the CCHD to help promote a tobacco free community. It's funded by grants from the Indiana Supplement and Master Settlement Funds which are administered by the Indiana State Department of Health.
Education is the focus for the prevention program. For this year's Spring/Summer campaign, Public Health Nurse Jennifer Lucas visited all nine Clay County elementary public and private schools. She distributed educational materials to nearly 400 students regarding smoking prevention, second hand smoke and the need to quit smoking or never starting.
Over 10,000 people from Indiana die every year from the harmful effects of tobacco. The state spends nearly 2 billion dollars in medical costs due to smoking related illnesses.
The CCHD invited all 5th grade students to participate in the contest. The students were asked to draw a poster that displayed their message to the community about the dangers of tobacco use. This year, 132 posters were submitted.
A winner was chosen from each elementary school and a grand winner was chosen from that group. All participants received complimentary gifts from area businesses: A+ Printing , A&W, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Hardee's, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Rally's, Subway, Wal-Mart and Wendy's.
Besides the complimentary gifts, the nine winners from each school were given a T-shirt with their picture on the front. Hallie's grand prize drawing will be displayed on a billboard at three different locations, for one month each, during the summer.
When asked how she felt about winning the contest, Hallie said, "I'm happy 'cause anybody could have won it. There's lots of kids. There's a lot of competition. I was like, bouncy and happy and so amazed."