As of May 23, 2011 New York City’s parks and beaches are smoke-free.
Since 2003, the NYC Health Department's Office of Minority Health has worked with faith-based institutions in the city as vehicles to promote healthy behaviors to hard-to-reach populations and fight health disparities. While religious institutions have a long history of independently and collaboratively hosting health education programs, little is known about the effectiveness of these programs.
Grant funding to the Fund for Public Health in New York supported the evaluation of a series of health education programs, or “ministries”, conducted at 10 faith-based organizations in Brooklyn, including seven Christian churches, two Islamic mosques and one Jewish synagogue. Health ministers were trained to promote important public health measures such as cancer screening, disease management, good nutrition, maintaining heart health, and others. Health ministers delivered health sermons to members of their congregations and organized health fairs, workshops and seminars. They also provided counseling and referral services to their members and advised on how and when to seek health services.
Results from the program evaluation indicate that the health ministries were successful in effecting behavior change and promoting health. Health behaviors such as having access to a personal doctor, obtaining a flu shot, having 5+ servings of fruits and vegetables and thinking of quitting smoking, increased after the implementation of the health ministries project, suggesting that faith-based organizations can function as effective vehicles to promote health and prevent disease.