Tobacco Policy Specialist Sandra Meucci joined the team in March 2015 and advises REACH on initiatives such as smoke-free parks and tobacco retail licensing. Her job is multifaceted as she also makes policy recommendations that uphold the county’s racial equity lens. She also serves as a Smoking Cessation and Reduction In Pregnancy Treatment (SCRIPT) trainer, where she trains clinicians to properly aid pregnant women who are addicted to tobacco.
Sandra comes to the county with a wealth of public health experience. Previously working with the African American Health Coalition, a nonprofit that focuses on health accessibility, she’s spent most of her professional career focusing on health disparities within the African-American community.
“I’m very struck by the fact that there’s very little understanding as to why the African-American community experiences [chronic] diseases at a higher rate, but really all we have to do is step back a few steps and think,” Sandra says.
Sandra got her first look at health disparities in the Northeastern Pennsylvania Irish coal mining community that she was raised, where she says poverty was rampant. “Coal mining was a great example of extracted industries and what it does to the land and the people,” she says.
She was the first in her family to earn a Bachelor’s Degree, then later a Master’s and Doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
After decades of being ashamed of her family’s past with tobacco — both of her parents smoking multiple packs a day and later passing due to lung cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses — Sandra decided that she was going to use her public health education to encourage conversation on tobacco addiction.
“My family took a big hit from tobacco,” she says. “And I began to realize that as I began to study public health, how they were not just an isolated example, that this was really a deep pattern.”
Today, Sandra says she’s excited to continue the conversation through the county. “This job at the county through REACH was a really perfect opportunity for me to marry my interests in tobacco work and African-American community health improvement,” she says.
When Sandra isn’t in the office or meeting with REACH partners, she can be found traveling the greater Pacific Northeast with her husband Adrian.