Nashville – Today, CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, released its 2023 annual policy assessment of the largest 75 cities in the United States. In it, Nashville was awarded its first overall medal (bronze), due in part to its recent passage and implementation of a new local smokefree law.
"I was a proud co-sponsor of the smokefree legislation as a councilmember, and am proud to receive Nashville’s first overall CityHealth medal as its Mayor.” Said Mayor Freddie O’Connell. “Nashville continues to lead in the health care and hospitality industries, and now we embrace similar leadership in public health.”
The medals are awarded for city laws that meet CityHealth’s policy criteria, which provide an evidence-backed framework that cities can use to help promote health equity and address key public health concerns such as affordable housing, earned sick leave, access to greenspace, smokefree air, and more. In order to earn an overall medal, cities must pass laws that meet policy criteria in at least 5 of the 12 categories.
Nashville’s new smokefree ordinance earned the city it’s 5th category and first bronze medal, going into effect March 1, 2023, after passing through Metro Council in late 2022 with overwhelming support. 11 council members co-sponsored the legislation, including now Vice Mayor Angie Henderson. “I am proud to have co-sponsored this bill as a council member.” States Henderson. “This legislative effort by my colleagues on the Metro Council, in partnership with community advocates, was a great example of a diverse and productive stakeholder process that addressed a public health need in a way that will have long-term benefits for Nashville businesses of all sizes.”
The ability to pass such a local smokefree law in Tennessee is also a relatively new opportunity. In 2022, Musicians for a Smokefree Tennessee, a coalition of musicians, venues, and public health organizations, successfully lobbied for and passed legislation at the state level that granted this authority back to municipalities across the state. Nashville become the first city in TN to do so, followed recently by Hendersonville as well. “We’ve heard from so many musicians across the city that no longer have to sing through smoke and choose between their health and a paycheck. It’s a real game changer and now creates a level playing field across the board, said Coalition Chair Jamie Kent. “I know many musicians and hospitality workers across the state hope this policy change comes to their city next.”
According to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, who has advised both CityHealth and Musicians for a Smokefree TN, Nashville joins over 1,300 other cities across the country that have passed similar smokefree laws. None of which have seen any negative economic impact. Additionally, according to the CDC, comprehensive smokefree laws have been associated with lower rates of hospital admissions or deaths for: coronary events, other heart disease, cerebrovascular accidents, and respiratory disease.
“Our community is clearly committed to protecting, improving and sustaining our health, with proof coming in the form of the buy-in we have seen while implementing our new smoke-free ordinance”, said Dr. Gill Wright, Director of the Metro Public Health Department. “In the first nine months of enforcing the smoke-free ordinance, our team has received few complaints from the public, further evidence that Nashville is ready to continue putting our health first.”
CityHealth, an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente, works to advance a package of proven policy solutions that will help millions of people live longer, better lives in vibrant, prosperous communities. CityHealth regularly evaluates cities on the number and strength of their policies. Find out more at cityhealth.org.