COLUMBUS PATCH: Columbus Policies Good At Curbing Tobacco, Not Much Else: Report

By Daniel Hampton

When it comes to policies that improve health and well-being of its residents, Columbus policies are really good at curbing tobacco use and having restaurants post safety inspection grades.

But apparently there's a lot of room for improvement.

That's according to a new report released Tuesday by the initiative CityHealth, which examined the 40 largest cities in the U.S. for nine vital policies that help residents live healthier lives and enable communities to thrive.

The group gave out gold, silver and bronze medals — or no medal — depending on how good a city's policies are for the category. Nine policy-specific medals were also awarded to each city based in the quality and strength of the existing laws, which address affordable housing, safe streets, and food safety, among other issues.

Columbus received gold medals for three categories: "Tobacco 21," "Smoke Free Indoor Air" and "Food Safety and Restaurant Inspection Rating."

(For more stories like this from Columbus Patch, sign up for real-time news alerts and our free morning newsletter Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Or, find your local Ohio Patch here. Also, download the free Patch iPhone app or free Patch Android app.)

Tobacco 21

For the this category, the initiative looked at whether you have to be at least 21 years old to buy tobacco products in the city and whether the age restriction "explicitly" applies to e-cigarettes, a particular favorite among young people. Columbus has both.

Smoke Free Indoor Air

For this category, the group looked at whether there are comprehensive smoke-free air laws to protect non-smokers from inhaling smoke secondhand and to reduce smokers' consumption of tobacco. In Columbus, smoking is banned the following places, earning it a gold medal: non-hospitality workplaces, including workplaces, child care and long term care facilities; public places; restaurants and bars

Food Safety and Restaurant Inspection Rating

This category simply looks at whether there are policies requiring food businesses to publicly post safety inspection grades. Columbus earned a gold medal because it: uses mandatory rating system to disclose inspection results to the public; forces restaurants to visibly post on-site grades and must post them outside before potential customers enter.

That was the good news. The bad news is Columbus, along with 14 other big cities, failed to earn an overall medal, meaning it received three or fewer medals across each of the nine policies.

The Carnation City failed to earn a bronze medal in the other six categories: "Earned Sick Leave," "High-quality, Universal Pre-Kindergarten," "Affordable Housing/Inclusionary Zoning," "Complete Streets," "Alcohol Sales Control" and "Healthy Food Procurement."

The report is meant to highlight which cities are leading the way on policies that improve people's health and quality of life, the initiative said in a release. Fifteen cities did not earn an overall medal, meaning they were awarded three or fewer medals across each of the nine policies

"Policy is a powerful lever for boosting healthat the city level," said Dr. Shelley Hearne, the group's president. "Many cities are demonstrating significant progress across nine pragmatic polices, which have been proven to help millions of people live longer, better lives. Still, too many cities are not getting to gold. We encourage all cities to show their commitment to building a healthier community that truly thrives, by adopting this set of proven policies. Every unearned gold medal represents an opportunity to take action and to improve people's quality of life."

Click here to see the full report for Columbus.

Here are how other cities fared:

Overall Gold Medalists (five or more gold medals across each of the nine policies)

Boston, MA

Chicago, IL

Los Angeles, CA

New York, NY

San Jose, CA

Overall Silver Medalists (five or more gold or silver medals across each of the nine policies)

Kansas City, MO

Long Beach, CA

Philadelphia, PA

Sacramento, CA

San Antonio, TX

San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA

Seattle, WA

Washington, D.C.
Overall Bronze Medalists (four or more gold, silver or bronze medals across each of the nine policies)

Albuquerque, NM

Atlanta, GA

Austin, TX

Baltimore, MD

Charlotte, NC

Denver, CO

Fresno, CA

Houston, TX

Louisville, KY

Milwaukee, WI

Portland, OR
No Overall Medal

Columbus, OH

Dallas, TX

Detroit, MI

El Paso, TX

Fort Worth, TX

Indianapolis, IN

Jacksonville, FL

Las Vegas, NV

Memphis, TN

Mesa, AZ

Nashville, TN

Oklahoma City, OK

Phoenix, AZ

Tucson, AZ

Virginia Beach, VA