Introducing Program Manager Features -- Sally Herndon (NC)

To celebrate state and territorial tobacco program managers as dynamic leaders in tobacco control, the TCN homepage is highlighting tobacco program managers in a series of rotating features. This will give the TCN membership and national tobacco partners an opportunity to learn more about the work of program managers. If you are a program manager who would like to be featured, please reach out to

What led you to pursue a career in tobacco control?

Two things led me to a career in tobacco control:

First, watching my Mom suffer from COPD and eventually die relatively young from tobacco related illness, while knowing she didn’t like the addiction and felt powerless to quit. When I was 6 years old (a few years after “Cancer by the Carton” came out in a Reader’s Digest but before the 1964 Surgeon General’s Report), she and my Dad promised we would get a car when we turned 21 if we did not smoke. It planted a seed and was a great prevention strategy!

Second, I am a native North Carolinian, and grew up within the tobacco culture of that state. My first fabulous role-model out of grad school in Public Health – my first boss – was Ed Miller, of Maine. Ed was ahead of his time on tobacco control. He showed me how you can do effective work in tobacco control, and when I moved back to my home state of NC (because my Mom was sick) I took it on, getting involved in COMMIT and then ASSIST.

How long have you been a Program Manager? How long have you worked at your state health department?

Whew! Time flies when you are having fun! I have worked in North Carolina Division of Public Health for 30 years. I have been the NC Program Manager since the beginning of the 50-state program in 1999, and was the NC Project ASSIST Manager from 1991-99. I worked in Maine from 1980-1986. I am never bored with this work, and I have a great team and wonderful partners.

What are you most proud of your state accomplishing in tobacco control?

I am proud of many things we have accomplished through incremental change that does not close the door on future progress. Our NC teamwork to pass the NC Smoke-free Restaurants and Bars Law is our biggest success to date. Here is our infographic.

This law also restored the authority of local governments to pass additional restrictions on smoking and tobacco use in government buildings, grounds, and public places. We document and map the progress of local regulations while helping tobacco users who want to quit. We work to be hard on the problem, soft on the people.

How have you leveraged the tools and the resources of the Tobacco Control Network in your state or territory?

I think the TCN member networking has been very important to me over the years. I am grateful to many mentors. I especially appreciate the Policy Platform, as it helps all state Program Managers stay in touch with what is evidence based and what is gaining traction to reduce the health and economic burdens of tobacco use.

What do you find most challenging when working within tobacco control?

We were making such great progress in youth tobacco prevention. Smoking rates among middle school and high school students were going down significantly. We had about $17 million in Tobacco Master Settlement Funds to educate and empower young people, and then the MSA funds were redirected. At the same time, all of these new and emerging products were hitting the market – we have had an 888% increase in tobacco use among high school students since 2011, mostly due to e-cigarettes. Sadly, we have been slow to respond adequately to this challenge, but are hopeful that emerging research will help pave the way.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I am an avid fiction reader, I love to sea kayak and am having great fun with my vivacious 2 year old Labrador Retriever, Perl.

* * *

TCN's 2016 Policy Recommendations Now Available!

The Executive Leadership Committee of the Tobacco Control Network (TCN) is pleased to release the 2016 TCN Policy Recommendations document. The policy recommendations reflect our network’s priorities and declare a vision and direction for those policy and system changes which the TCN membership believe are most important to reducing and eliminating the health issues caused by tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure.

Building on the previous policy document, the 2016 TCN Policy Recommendations aim to prepare the TCN membership to meet the evolving demands of the tobacco control landscape. It is our hope that the 2016 TCN Policy Recommendations will be used to help shape effective tobacco control programs. State and territorial tobacco control programs found the 2012 version helpful in providing program direction, completing readiness assessments, developing their five-year National State-Based Tobacco Control workplans, and educating their state’s leadership about evidence-based tobacco control work.

* * *

Preventing and reducing harms related to tobacco use through idea sharing across U.S. state and territorial health agencies.

The mission of the Tobacco Control Network (TCN) is to improve the public’s health by providing education and state-based expertise to tobacco prevention and control at the state and national levels. Through the network’s wide representation and information exchange resources, our members have access to a wealth of expertise and experience from across the country. Browse our website to learn how the network serves as a catalyst for building relationships and collaboration, and to access resources to support effective tobacco control strategies in your area.

This website is a space for TCN members and partners to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. State and territory tobacco control program staff and others who support state and territory tobacco control efforts are invited to take advantage of the many services the TCN offers.

Get Involved!

TCN's members-only forum will enable state and territorial tobacco health department staff and Funders' Alliance staff (state-level members) to ask questions and share best practices. The forum is open to state and territorial tobacco program managers, cessation managers, media coordinators, and evaluators, or assigned delegates.