OREGONIAN: Portland earns bronze medal for health policies

By Corlyn Voorhees

Portland earned an overall bronze medal rating from a health advocacy group Tuesday for policies that benefit citizens' health and improve quality of life.

Oregon's biggest city received gold medals in two categories relating to tobacco use: the state's tobacco purchasing age of 21 and its ban on smoking and vaping indoors.

CityHealth, an initiative of the du Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, released its first report evaluating health-related city policies in 2017. Portland earned no overall medal last year but was one of 10 cities that improved its ranking in 2018. It earned two bronze medals and two gold medals across the nine policies evaluated in the report.

Both of Oregon's gold medals for air quality stem from state laws.

Portland's indoor smoking laws started with a 2001 Oregon law requiring smoke-free workplaces. The ban expanded in 2007 to encompass bars and restaurants. In 2016, the Legislature banned indoor use of electronic smoking devices including electronic cigarettes, vape pens, and e-hookah.

To earn gold for tobacco purchasing age, CityHealth requires that a city require citizens to be at least 21 to purchase tobacco products and have that age restriction apply to e-cigarettes. Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation raising the age to purchase tobacco to 21 in August 2017 and it took effect January 1.

Portland earned two bronze medals for policies that promote affordable housing and require employers to provide paid sick leave. The city's law mandating the inclusion of affordable units in new large-scale apartment buildings, which requires that at least 20 percent of developments with 20 units or more be affordable to moderate-income tenants came up just shy of earning silver. Portland's sick leave law earned a bronze medal.

The full 2018 report is available on CityHealth's website, as well as a more detailed look as to how Portland stacked up this year.