In the late 1990’s the City of York - Health Bureau convened stakeholders to talk about youth access to tobacco. Members met in city council chambers with the American Heart, Cancer and Lung Association's. This was said to be the first time all three groups convened on this issue. The group began educating youth on tobacco prevention with a focus on access.
Around 2000, when the Master Settlement Agreement was in development, the group expanded to include partners from Memorial Hospital, Hanover Hospital and York Hospital as well as other community organizations. At this time, the state of Pennsylvania was looking for primary contractors in each county to provide a comprehensive tobacco control program including: cessation services, education, prevention and enforcement.
The City of York - Bureau of Health was chosen to be the primary contractor to provide a comprehensive tobacco control program in York County. The Bureau contracted with schools, community organizations, hospitals, law enforcement agencies and others to implement the programs.
Over the next several years, the state changed its model and looked for regional contractors. In doing so, it focused primarily on cessation and enforcement and lessened concentration on prevention and education. Funding shifted to hospitals where the majority of cessation services were provided in the area.
In 2010, York received an ACHIEVE grant and formed Eat, Play, Breathe York, an initiative to improve health by creating access to healthy foods, increased physical activity opportunities and decreased exposure to tobacco smoke and decreased tobacco use. Those previously involved in the tobacco work-group continued to work together and shaped the"breathe" outreach of Eat, Play, Breathe York.
Members began meeting more frequently with the focus being on the city through this initiative as the Tobacco-Free Task Force ( of Eat, Play, Breathe York). The focus of EPBY and the TTF was on policy, systems and environmental changes to reduce tobacco use/exposure. Therefore, a few things the Tobacco-Task Force accomplished:
Worked with the York Housing Authority and other housing companies to endorse and adopt tobacco-free policies in multi-unit housing.
Educated students in the York City School district and community members on tobacco awareness days
Held a community forum on Vaping (see here)
Worked with downtown events planners to promote events in the city as tobacco-free and developed signs to post at events.
In February 2017, a new county-wide group rolled-out: Tobacco-Free York County. The mission is “to protect the public health of York County by partnering with community members to advocate, promote and educate on the benefits and resources to achieve tobacco-free living.”
There are many invested individuals and groups in the community. Tobacco-Free York County provides an opportunity to collaborate and maximize tobacco cessation and prevention efforts county-wide.