Press Room

Public Health Officials Challenged to Make Their State Agencies Models of Healthy Work Environments

(Arlington, VA) March 31 – Judith A. Monroe, MD, Indiana Commissioner of Health and President of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), has challenged her fellow state health officials to take the lead in creating a healthier future for all Americans. ASTHO is at the forefront of a movement to make health the norm in America. "Improving the public's health begins with health departments leading by example," said Dr. Monroe. "In the words of Albert Schweitzer, example is not the main thing in influencing others it is the ONLY thing."

“At this critical time in our nation’s history, with immense health and economic challenges facing us, it is imperative that Public Health take the lead in creating a healthier future for our citizens,” said Dr. Monroe. She added, “All members of ASTHO “need to ‘Walk our Talk’ and lead by example.”

All state and territorial health agencies are being encouraged to create a work environment that encourages healthy behaviors, by making healthy choices the easy choices. During the next six months, agencies are being asked to adopt healthy food, green office, and smoke‐free air policies, promote opportunities for physical activity during the day, offer tobacco cessation programs for smokers, and make lactation rooms available where possible. Read the full text of the President’s Challenge at http://www.astho.org/pubs/PresidentChallenge2009.pdf. As an example to other state health agencies the Indiana State Department of Health has:

  • Closed its smoking room and converted it into a fitness room for employees.
  • Strengthened its tobacco policy, prohibiting the use of tobacco during work breaks and anytime while wearing a work badge or clothing with the agency name or logo.
  • Implemented a worksite wellness policy that includes weekly walks and a "healthy foods corner" in the onsite snack shop.
  • Launched “ISDH Olympics” and had a walking challenge.
  • Convened Indiana employers at an InShape Indiana summit to discuss benefits of worksite wellness programs.

“The healthcare cost crisis we are now facing is a direct result of not investing in prevention programs and failing to make healthy foods, environments, and lifestyles easily accessible to all Americans. We must focus on keeping people healthy to break that cycle,” said ASTHO Executive Director Paul E. Jarris, MD.

CONTACT: Paula A. Steib, 571-527-3173; 703-439-8259 (cell)