Friday December 14, 2001 4:30 pm Eastern Time

Press Release

SOURCE: Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco

Minnesotans Mourn Death of Public Health Advocate

ST. PAUL, Minn., Dec. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Members of the Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco Board of Directors and staff join Minnesotans in mourning the death of Jean L. Harris, M.D., a staunch advocate for smoke-free environments and an inspiring leader.

``She was deeply committed to the health of communities of color and demonstrated that in her willingness to serve as a volunteer,'' said Laura Waterman Wittstock, who served with Dr. Harris on the MPAAT Board and is currently MPAAT Treasurer. ``She brought two gifts to communities of color. She provided wise counsel not only with her political background but also with her medical experience.''

Dr. Harris was a founding member of the MPAAT Board and served on that body from September 1998 to August 2000. Dr. Harris, 70, never smoked but was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998. She died Friday morning at Fairview University Hospital.

``I have seen firsthand the severe damage of secondhand smoke,'' she said this fall on a video produced by MPAAT. ``I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, very close to the large cigarette manufacturing plants. As long as I can remember, from early childhood through later adulthood, everybody in my community and where I worked smoked. Today, I am the beneficiary of all that secondhand smoke. Minnesota is a leader in the efforts to make people aware of the impact of secondhand smoke and I'm proud of that. However, it requires a lot more effort from each of us to take a stand for a healthier state. It is a challenge which we should all be willing to take because we cannot give up.''

As the mayor of Eden Prairie, she worked for and passed one of the first local ordinances prohibiting youth access to tobacco.  The Eden Prairie tobacco control ordinance became a model for other communities. Her influence in tobacco control extended beyond Minnesota. As Chair of the Health Subcommittee for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Dr. Harris was instrumental in persuading that body to pass a resolution in support of tobacco control.

The Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco is an independent, non-profit 501(c)3 public foundation dedicated to reducing the harm caused by tobacco.

SOURCE: Minnesota Partnership for Action Against Tobacco

[Virginia GASP] Added 15 December 2001