Program Manager Feature – Sharon Biggers (SC)

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 would like to nominate a program manager to be featured, please reach out to

What led you to pursue a career in tobacco control?

Like so many others, I lost family members to tobacco use, including my beloved grandfather just one week before I met my husband. After earning my Masters in Public Health, I started work as part of a health promotion team addressing physical inactivity and tobacco use. And though my undergraduate degree was in Exercise Science, I soon developed a passion for tobacco control to try to prevent others from experiencing such a needless and painful loss.

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

I have worked at the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control for 23 years, and have been the Director of the Tobacco Control Program for 15 of those. I have had wonderful and varying experiences at both the state and local level, including a memorable phone call from a tobacco farmer angry about a prevention billboard designed by a middle schooler.

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

There are a handful of tobacco control accomplishments in SC that I am extremely proud of. From an impact standpoint, the increase in the state's cigarette tax and allocation of state resources for prevention and cessation was a shining moment which illustrated the dedication and perseverance of some incredible partners. Most recently, the successful effort to secure comprehensive tobacco cessation coverage for all Medicaid members without prior authorization or co-pays and leveraging the federal administrative match for Quitline services provided to beneficiaries has been a great source of pride. To realize that we have been a part of setting Medicaid policy in the state to potentially help thousands of tobacco users quit has been truly remarkable.

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

The TCN has been invaluable for me as a program manager. The Help Your Peers listserv has been a fabulous resource in accessing timely information from other states. And I always read the TCN News to stay on top of issues and resources, as well as to learn about the many wonderful events and workshops available on a wide range of topics. Perhaps the most important to me, however, has been the networking opportunities, particularly during my time on the Executive Committee and while serving as a mentor for new Managers.

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

Tobacco control work in a southeastern state is not for the fainthearted. Although there have been noticeable reductions in tobacco growing in the state, the influence is still alive and well. This presents major challenges in passing many of the higher-level best practice strategies that we know will work to reduce and prevent use.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work I enjoy doing many things with my family. My husband and I enjoy attending our 16 year-old son's numerous golf tournaments and high school matches around the state. We are avid University of SC Gamecock fans, and I am a pretty passionate about my college football. We also love boating on local Lake Murray and spending time at Table Rock in the mountains of the Upstate.

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Join the TCN Emerging Issues Workgroup

TCN has formed an Emerging Issues Workgroup that will meet quarterly to discuss how state and territorial tobacco control stakeholders can best collaborate to address emerging challenges in tobacco control. Topics of discussion will include emerging products, industry tactics, and threats to clean air policy. Emerging Issues Workgroup meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month once each quarter from 4 to 5 PM ET. The next convening is scheduled for March 15. This meeting will focus on heated tobacco products and JUULs. TCN members interested in taking part can reach out to

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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.

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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.

TCN's 2016 Policy Recommendations contain specific priorities and guidance for effective tobacco control by state and territorial health agencies.