Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hawaii: Stop Smoking and Start Living Healthy!

Hawaii is perhaps best known for its sandy beaches and ocean breezes, but not only tourists enjoy the Big Island. Surfing is always popular among the locals and general outdoor activity is widespread as Hawaiians take advantage of the friendly weather. Although Minnesota was recently rated the healthiest state, Hawaii has also earned a high overall wellness grade as well.

A 2008 report ranked Hawaii as the second slimmest state after Colorado, but smoking still poses a significant health threat. The Hawaii state Department of Health's website offers tips to increase activity, eat healthfully, and stop smoking. In an effort to influence a greater number of Hawaiians, The Department of Health started the Healthy Hawaii Initiative, funded through the Tobacco Settlement Funds.

In 1975, Hawaii's Prepaid Health Care Act went into effect, making Hawaii the first state to mandate employer-provided medical coverage for employees. This law, as well as government initiatives such as the Hawaii Business Health Council Program helped to encourage wellness among workers and maximize employee health.

Unfortunately, state health initiatives such as the Hawaii Business Health Council often hurt small businesses. Although Hawaiians are generally healthier than the average American, small business owners still feel a financial strain from the mandatory medical coverage they must provide for their employees. Hawaii is the only state in the nation allowed to force companies to pay for insurance for their full-time employees. Health insurance is essential in the event of a medical emergency, however, individuals as well as larger companies might profit from more preventative health measures.

Start Living Healthy is the Hawaii State Department of Health's statewide health promotion campaign. It is an integrative and educational campaign with partnerships in both the private and public sectors. Furthermore, it provides people with information to promote well-being and reduce existing health disparities among ethnic groups in Hawaii.

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