Grant promotes smoke-free housing
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
In an attempt to improve the overall health of the community, the move is being made towards smoke-free housing.
“We are currently receiving funds for eight hours a week to promote smoke-free housing in Henry County through the Community Transformation Grant,” Chris Kempker, tobacco prevention coordinator through the Iowa State University Extension Office in Henry County, told the board of health during its regular meeting on Thursday.
The Community Transformation, which is a five-year grant with an estimated $88,000 in funding per year, focuses on the prevention of heart attack, stroke and other chronic conditions through a variety of community arenas.
Lindsay Remick, wellness coordinator for Healthy Henry County Communities and Henry County Health Center, is responsible for coordinating the use of the grant’s funds, and she has been working with Kempker on the smoke-free housing initiative.
The goal is to get all low-income, multi-unit housing complexes in Henry County to adopt a smoke-free policy.
However, Kempker and Remick noted that they are running into some difficulties.
“A lot of their tenants right now are smokers, and it’s that disproportionate rate of the elderly and the low income that seem to be a high percentage of smokers,” said Kempker. “They don’t want to broach the subject.”
Kempker noted that they talked about possibly grandfathering in tenants, though the grant does not really encourage that.
“There are 26 counties in the Community Transformation Grant. At our regional meetings we discuss it because everybody’s in the same boat,” said Remick. “It’s hard to make steps in the right direction.”
Kempker and Remick have handed out surveys to the managers of the complexes to see if they are moving in this direction, but they have yet to hear back from all of them. They also noted that it is difficult to get in touch with some managers and owners.
Currently there have been seven complexes identified, and two of them have adopted the policy. Once they do, the complex is listed on a website, smoke-freehomes.iowa.gov, advertising the complex as smoke-free. There are also signs placed at the complex designating them as smoke-free facilities.
In other business, the board of health received updates from Community Health Director Travis Johnson on the various programs and grants that fall under the public health department.
Johnson noted that the public health department will be impacted by the cuts in federal funding, though he is not sure what programs will be affected.
“It will be significant, but I do not know the exact impact of where it will affect and where it won’t,” said Johnson.
He noted that the impact will likely be seen in Fiscal Year 2015.