Laura Hoffman was an eight-year-old kid at summer camp the first time she was offered a cigarette. She turned it down. As a teen, she watched her mother struggle with – and succeed in – quitting smoking. A lecture about tobacco during a preventive health course at DMU stoked her drive to help others boot their butts as a volunteer for the American Lung Association in Iowa.
This spring, the organization recognized Hoffman’s efforts to help people live tobacco-free with its 2011 Volunteer Award.
“She is very passionate about tobacco prevention, education and cessation,” says Micki Sandquist, executive director of the Iowa organization. “We know Laura’s time is limited as she is an excellent medical student, so we value all the time she spends with us.”
Now a fourth-year osteopathic medicine student, Hoffman began volunteering with the American Lung Association’s local tobacco prevention arm, the Central Iowa Tobacco-free Partnership, in 2009. She first helped the organization survey and assess convenience stores to identify what tobacco products were being sold and highly marketed in the area. She also has helped at the chapter’s smoke-free night events at Iowa Cubs baseball games and at Drake University in Des Moines. In addition, she helped at many car safety seat checks, where she educated parents about the dangers of smoking around children and asked them to sign a pledge to be smoke-free.
“My mom quit smoking when I was in my early teens and I admired her so much for doing that, because I know it’s very difficult,” she says. “I’ve really enjoyed all of the activities that I’ve helped with through the ALA.”
Hoffman became interested in medicine as a high school volunteer at a free health and dental clinic. She plans to practice in family medicine.