WASHINGTON, IND. – Perdue Farms announced this week that some employees at its Washington, Ind., turkey harvest plant would participate in a pilot smoking cessation program with WrightChoice Healthcare and the Indiana University School of Public Health and Center for Rural Engagement.

Eight employees will participate in the pilot program through Perdue’s on-site wellness center.

“Smoking cessation is part of our preventive approach to healthcare,” said Dawn Carey, director of Perdue Healthworks. “We’re proud to join WrightChoice Healthcare and Indiana University in a program that supports and encourages our associates who want to make a positive change in their lives.”

The pilot program, supported by the Indiana Healthy Opportunities for People Everywhere (I-HOPE) initiative, provides an approach to motivate behavior change through carbon monoxide monitoring which is part of a larger effort that looks to reduce smoking and smoke exposure in rural southern Indiana.

“We are so excited that Perdue is actively encouraging their employees to participate in our smoking cessation project on site at their location in Washington,” said Jon Macy, associate professor at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington and project lead for the smoking cessation initiative. “I hope that this is a model that will be replicated at other worksites in Indiana to address priority health issues like tobacco use. By investing a modest amount of resources in their employees’ health, employers can benefit from healthy, productive workers and lower healthcare costs.”

The IU Center for Rural Engagement stated that the prevalence of smoking is higher in rural areas and quit rates are lower. The group is hoping this smoking cessation program would address the disparity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention helped fund the effort as part of a $34.8 million grant and national initiative.