As we move into 2014, many of us have committed to improving our health. The Oregon Health Authority wants to support employees by making our workplaces as healthy as they can be.
In 2008 (before the creation of OHA) the Department of Human Services made all of its campuses tobacco-free. This effort was strengthened by an executive order from the Governor phasing in tobacco-free campuses for all state property beginning in 2013. These efforts have been very successful: According to our state employee health survey data, employee smoking rates have decreased. Only about 5 percent of our employees smoke today, compared to about 20 percent of the general Oregon adult population. That’s a huge success!
We are proud of our success and want to do everything we can to help the people who have quit stay off tobacco. We also want to encourage those who haven’t quit to think about doing so. Our PEBB benefits offer excellent cessation services that are available by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or at QuitNow.net.
Keeping the areas around our buildings smoke free is not only an expectation, but also a help to those who have quit. Smoke-free sidewalks and entryways are essential for coworkers who have asthma or other respiratory problems to stay healthy and safe. If you do smoke, please be respectful of your fellow employees and keep adjacent sidewalks free of smoke.
On another health topic: The Oregon Health Authority offers support to employees wanting to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. For those wanting to lose or maintain their weight, PEBB offers Weight Watchers as a covered benefit. In fact, more than 90 percent of us have said we want to maintain or lose weight. Many employees have taken advantage of this benefit and have established Weight Watchers At-Work programs for easy access. Since 2009, state employees have lost 233,206 pounds through Weight Watchers At-Work.
Please think about these employees as you are planning for your workplace meetings and get-togethers. Having healthy choices available for those trying hard to stick to their program is a big help. Concentrating on bringing healthy and nutritious food into the workplace to share helps us walk our talk as agencies supporting health throughout our state.
Another thing we can do to be healthy is to consider establishing healthy meeting guidelines in our programs. Oregon’s Public Health Division has established nutrition guidelines for food purchased with state dollars and also encourages a quick activity or stretch break in meetings that last more than an hour. Contact Rebecca Pawlak, Oregon Public Health, at 971-673-1034 if you would like more information about healthy meetings.
So, stand up! Take a walk! Bring fresh fruits and veggies to share with friends and colleagues. Give quitting tobacco one more try – it takes several attempts and this could be the one that lasts! Let’s all work together to create a culture of health.