Mora employer becomes local champion of smoke-free worksites
Lakes and Pines Community Action Council (CAC), a nonprofit organization in Mora that employs 115 people, adopted a new smoke-free workplace and environmental policy in 2015 that bans smoking on its grounds.
That change is benefiting employees’ health and their pocketbooks.
The new policy led to a reduction in employees who smoke, which was a contributing factor in the organization being able to hold its group health insurance plan rates at last year’s level for participants. The policy change started with support from SHIP and Partners in Healthy Living (PiHL), the SHIP grantee for Kanabec, Pine, Isanti and Mille Lacs counties.
The new policy led to a reduction in employees who smoke, which was a contributing factor in the organization being able to hold its group health insurance plan rates at last year’s level for participants.
“Twenty of our staff members smoked (before the policy passed),” said Leona Dressel, Human Resources Director for Lakes and Pine CAC. “Of those, 13 quit smoking since it passed.”
“The partnership with PiHL assisted us in becoming a local champion (of smoke-free worksites),” Dressel said. “It also helped us move forward with other health and wellness initiatives for our staff and visitors.”
Supporting a culture of wellness
Lakes and Pines CAC had smoke-free buildings before the smoke-free policy was incorporated, but it allowed smoking outside on its grounds. That meant that staff couldn’t open windows without introducing secondhand smoke into their work area. It also didn’t support the culture the company wants to represent to its staff and visitors, according to Bob Benes, executive director of Lakes and Pines CAC.
“We applaud the efforts of staff in support of the policy and helping us to successfully implement it and other health and wellness initiatives (that are important to our organization’s culture),” Benes said. “The wellness projects that followed on the heels of the policy’s introduction included healthy snack days, increased fitness activities and wellness education that was incorporated into our safety training days.”
With help from PiHL, Lakes and Pines CAC started a health and wellness committee, which identified the strategies that would contribute to a healthier worksite culture. That resulted in the new smoke-free grounds policy.
FirstLight Health System, a healthcare provider in Mora, conducted health risk assessments for Lakes and Pines CAC prior to policy implementation, and the organization’s health insurance carrier provided smoking cessation resources. PiHL provided technical assistance and a grant for signage.
“When I first contacted Lakes and Pines, they were very excited to learn new ideas about wellness for employees,” said Lori Swanson, Health Educator and SHIP Coordinator for Kanabec-Pine Community Health. “I was very impressed with their desire to prioritize the health of their employees.”