Jessica Sheets

Jessica Sheets is the Community Transformation Grant (CTG) Consultant with the Polk County Health Department and oversees the Polk County Healthy Community Transformation Partnership Coalition. As one of the many strategic directions of CTG, Jessica conducts outreach to multi-family low income housing to provide education and technical assistance to managers and property owners in adopting smoke-free and/or tobacco free policies. In addition, she consults with worksites in implementing work place wellness system and environmental changes, including smoke-free worksite policies.

In partnership with the American Lung Association in Iowa and the Central Iowa Tobacco-Free Partnership (CITP), Jessica has reached out to several multi-family low income properties in Polk County and have provided many of them with the Manger’s Guide to Smoke-Free Housing.

“It is difficult to get managers or property owners to hear you out. Smoke-Free housing is an emerging trend and a new concept for many management companies. They are nervous about losing tenants and money, but in reality, survey data shows tenants actually prefer, and would even pay more, to live in smoke-free housing. It also saves property owners money in the long run. It is very costly to turn-over a unit that has been smoked in, as well as insure a property that allows residents to smoke on it,” said Jessica.

Jessica, the American Lung Association in Iowa and the Central Iowa Tobacco-Free Partnership (CITP), often partner in the implementation process when working with a property owner. Together they are able provide templates, assist with lease language and offer technical assistance.

“Having American Lung Association/CITP staff on our coalition has been a great asset. We are able to accomplish so much more and cover more ground when reaching out to properties together. It just makes sense,” said Jessica.

In 2012, Jessica assisted Southwinds Apartments in Des Moines in developing a timeline and implementing a smoke-free policy. CITP was able to provide the Southwinds’ manager with some great templates and offer technical assistance with the process. Most recently, Community Housing Initiative reached out to Jessica to implement a smoke-free policy for all 52 of their properties across Iowa.

As part of her consultation with worksites, Jessica provides a free work place assessment that determines if employee smoking and tobacco policies need to be implemented or enhanced. Many of her worksite partners are working on enhancing their polices by improving enforcement or offering cessation services through the employer or the employers insurance. If a work site does not have a current policy, Jessica invites CITP staff to meet with the worksite and provide education and technical assistance in adopting a smoke-free and/or tobacco free worksite policy.