Bourbon county initiative aims to lower tobacco use in the county

Businesses in Fort Scott adopt new policies
Bourbon county initiative aims to lower tobacco use in the county
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New tobacco policies are being implemented in Fort Scott because of a county wide health initiative.

Right now, Bourbon County is in the bottom ten-percent in county health rankings — and has the 4-th worst tobacco use rating in the state.

For more than two years, the Healthy Bourbon county action team has been working to improve the county’s health ranking.

Jody Hoener, Healthy Bourbon County Action Team, Bourbon County Economic Dev Dir.:”We’ve been in the bottom ten percent of the county health rankings since they started. Our community needs some help on the quality of life and just growing.”

To do that, they are using a five-hundred thousand dollar “Pathways to a Healthy Kansas” grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas to encourage residents to do more physical activity.. eat healthier.. and stop smoking.

Hoener:”We don’t want to shame people for using tobacco. Most of use have used tobacco or smoked or something some time in our lives. So, what we want to do is we want to make it easier for people to be tobacco free. We want to environments where people are to be easier, to be the default choice, to be tobacco free.”

The group is currently working with McDdonalds, Fort Scott Community College, and the county itself to come up with new tobacco policies.

One company, Peerless Products, just implemented their new tobacco policy at the first of the year, which bans all tobacco products on the entire property.

Cindy Davis, Peerless Products Health and Wellness Director:”We’ve really not seen as much negativity as I think we anticpated.”

Cindy Davis — Health and Wellness Director for Peerless Products — says they’ve been working toward the change for a year.

Now that it’s in place, it’s already made an impact.

Davis:”I think overall we’re seeing a positive boost to moral. Quitting tobacco is not an easy thing. I’m not a tobacco user, but I know I’ve talked to ones who are and have been for a life time, who have successfully quite already throughout this process.”

An impact Hoener hopes will become apparent in the entire county.

Hoener:”We want to make this a place where people want to come, live, eat and play.”

The Healthy Bourbon County Action team is offering funds from the “pathways” grant to help employers pay for smoking cessation products and counseling for their employees.

So far there’s no word on when the college and the county will adopt their new policies.