The new director of the Illinois Department of Public Health says he is eager to learn about his new territory. Dr. La Mar Hasbrouck is a career public health practitioner who is awaiting Senate confirmation.


He comes to Illinois from a county health director position in Kingston, N.Y., and previously spent some time working in South America, as part of a U. S. program to assist other countries in their response to AIDS. He was based in Guyana.


He says his priorities now are to learn which battles are winnable: “You talk about tobacco prevention, you talk about some of the obesity prevention and physical activity; that’s low-hanging fruit oftentimes, and you can really push the needle forward on that,” calling obesity and tobacco among the leading causes of preventable and premature death. Hasbrouck is in line with the governor’s call for a $1 per-pack increase in the state’s cigarette tax.


He will also announce federal grants of up to $300,000 each, targeted toward rural areas.


Hasbrouck’s tour schedule to local health departments is as follows:


Monday: East St Louis, noon

Tuesday: Murphysboro, 9:30; Champaign, 2 p. m.

Wednesday: Peoria, 9 a. m.; Rock Island, 1:30

May 23: Quincy, 10 a. m.

May 25: Rockford, 10 a. m.