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 abuse, as evidenced by a smoking rate that is among the highest of the nation’s 30 largest cities and the city’s 243 drug overdose fatalities in 2014. Statewide, more than 11,000 people die each year from tobacco and more than 1,100 died in 2014 due to drug poisoning. The economic impact on Indiana is also devastating. The annual economic burden in Indiana from tobacco is $6.8 billion. In 2014, drug overdose fatalities in our state resulted in $1.4 billion in medical costs and lost lifetime earnings.

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 rates of prescription drug and heroin abuse. 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.

Infographic: Tobacco Use in Indiana, 2016 (PDF)

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 rates of opioid use disorder, including prescription drug abuse and heroin use, are:

  • Raising awareness of the scope of the opioid epidemic and evidence-based policies to prevent and reduce opioid use.
  • 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.

Infographic: Opioid Use in Indiana, 2016 (PDF)