Addressing the City’s Biggest Public Health Challenges
Indianapolis ranks near the bottom of almost every measure of public health and healthy living. Two primary root causes of our city’s poor health outcomes are tobacco use and opioid misuse, as evidenced by a smoking rate that is the highest of the nation’s 30 largest cities and the more than 350 drug overdose fatalities that occurred in the city in 2017. Statewide, more than 12,500 people die each year from smoking, including 11,100 smokers and 1,400 nonsmokers, who die from exposure to secondhand smoke. More than 1,700 Hoosiers died of drug overdose in 2017, and the vast majority of these deaths were linked to opioids. The economic impact on Indiana is also devastating. Annually, tobacco use costs Indiana $8.3 billion. In 2017, the opioid epidemic cost the state an additional $4.3 billion.
Good health is a necessary condition for success in life and is integrally linked to the ability of children and adults to thrive in school and in the workplace. Indianapolis cannot reach its full potential while its people experience the debilitating effects of significant public health challenges.
To this end, we have established two primary goals in our Health focus area: to reduce the rate of tobacco use, and to reduce the rate of opioid use disorder, including prescription drug misuse and heroin use. Learn more about our strategies below, or contact us for more information.
Tobacco has long been understood to be an underlying cause of cancer and other illnesses. We’ve identified four strategies to help us reach our goal of an overall reduction in tobacco use in Indianapolis:
- Raising awareness of evidence-based policies to prevent and reduce tobacco use.
- Expanding access to evidence-based prevention programs and cessation treatments.
- Strengthening the infrastructure for tobacco control advocacy.
- Assessing tobacco control strategies and evaluating effectiveness of programs.
Opioid use disorder presents a different set of challenges and requires its own approach. The three strategies that we have identified to help us reach our goal of reducing the rate of opioid use disorder, including prescription drug misuse and illegal opioid use, are:
- Raising awareness of the scope of the opioid epidemic and evidence-based policies to prevent and reduce opioid misuse.
- Expanding access to evidence-based prevention, treatment and harm reduction programs and initiatives, and supporting pilots for new programs and initiatives.
- Assessing opioid prevention, treatment and harm reduction strategies and evaluating effectiveness of programs.