ECCP: Reduce Tobacco Use, Eat Healthier

Ellis county Community PartnershipEllis County Community Partnership (ECCP) recently identified health initiatives to focus on during the next five years. These initiatives are based on ECCP’s community health assessment and include promoting tobacco cessation to youth and adults, providing support to area schools interested in strengthening tobacco use policies, increasing physical activity opportunities for elementary aged youth and increasing healthier food choices at concessions and worksites.

ECCP is a coalition based in Hays that is working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) through the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) Program to reduce tobacco use and its deadly effects in Ellis County.

In 2012 ECCP conducted a community health assessment called the CHANGE Tool, which was designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assist communities in identifying community health strengths and needs, and creating an action plan to address their needs.

“The CHANGE Tool identified some areas for improvement, but it is exciting to be able to identify many existing strengths within Ellis County as well,” said Kari Sparks, ECCP Coordinator of the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction grant. “We are lucky to live in a county that has so many resources for medical care and physical activity, great schools and passionate individuals. ECCP is working to help make Ellis County an even healthier place to live and work.”

“Strengthening existing school tobacco use policies can increase youth cessation and help create the kind of tobacco-free environments that over time can help reduce youth tobacco use initiation,” Sparks said. Youth tobacco use in Ellis County is still an issue and smokeless tobacco products in particular are growing in popularity among youth in rural areas, like Ellis County and surrounding counties.”

Adult use of tobacco is also a problem in Ellis County. According to the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps report form the Population Health Institute, 18 percent of the Ellis County adult population reports using tobacco. Accordingly, ECCP plans to increase awareness of the free online and phone-based tobacco cessation programs available at the Kansas Tobacco Quitline, or 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669). The Quitline is a service provided at no cost to Kansas residents. Enrollment is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week (except on major holidays) online or by phone.

ECCP expects to receive word on their 2013/2014 CDRR grant request from KDHE sometime in June. ECCP is also currently looking for funds to address underage alcohol and other drug abuse. For additional information about ECCP or the CHANGE Tool results and Community Action Plan please contact Kari Sparks at the Regional Prevention Center at 785-625-5521.