The Oklahoma County TSET Healthy Living Program grantee partnered with EMBARK, formerly Oklahoma City’s Metro Transit, as the public transit organization made its move to tobacco-free properties on Aug. 1, 2016.
All tobacco products, including cigarettes, vaping or e-cigarette devices and chewing tobacco are now prohibited at EMBARK’s transit stops, shelters, facilities and vehicles.
“It was important to EMBARK to provide our customers, as well as our staff, transportation options that supported healthy lifestyles,” said Megan White, EMBARK Marketing Coordinator. “Our new policy prohibits tobacco use on our properties, but we also hope it will encourage our stakeholders to reduce and hopefully quit tobacco products as well.
To help its employees and patrons comply with the new tobacco-free policy, EMBARK hosted a free, public event called the Clear the Air Health Fair. At the fair, public health organizations like the TSET Healthy Living Program, Oklahoma City/County Health Department and the Oklahoma State Department of Health, communicated the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke, and provided information on quitting tobacco.
The Oklahoma City TSET HLP staff, who are housed at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, helped coordinate messaging for EMBARK staff and contractors on healthy lifestyles, including promoting the free services of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (1-800-QUIT NOW).
The HLP grant worked with EMBARK’s insurance provider, United Healthcare, to present information about the wellness website that employees can access about their tobacco cessation benefits. Smoking costs Oklahomans nearly $1.62 billion in excess health care costs each year.
“EMBARK clearly has a vision of health for their employees and their patrons. They’ve moved quickly to gather resources and get them out to these important audiences,” said Michelle Terronez, Oklahoma County TSET HLP Program Coordinator. “They’re living the mission of making Oklahoma a healthier place to live, work, learn and play; and it has been our pleasure working to help them see this change to fruition.”
The Oklahoma County TSET HLP grant will be assisting EMBARK on future employee and patron events and helping the organization get the latest information about healthy living into the hands of Oklahomans who work for and use the city’s public transportation system.