To the Editor:
If you've ever thought that where you live matters to your health, then you'll want to check out the results of a newly-released "County Health Rankings," a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin. Every county in Indiana was ranked on how healthy people are and key factors that affect health. You can find it online at www.countyhealthrankings.org.
Our county received an overall ranking of 11th. Tobacco use was one of the factors used in determining the health rankings. In our county, 26 percent of adults smoke, and that translates to about 7,156.
The authors of the report point out that people who live in communities with smoke-free air laws are less likely to smoke or to be exposed to secondhand smoke, which reduces the risk of lung cancer.
This news couldn't come at a better time because regardless of where a county is ranked, there are common sense steps we can take to make our community healthier simply by changing a policy and encouraging a smokefree lifestyle.
One such step is for our county commissioners to consider a comprehensive smokefree air ordinance. This would ensure that all workers and patrons in our community would be protected by the dangers of secondhand smoke.
If we can improve our community's health through stronger smokefree air policies, shouldn't we be working to make it happen? These are changes that thousands of communities across the country have made. The benefits include protecting everyone from secondhand smoke, building an environment that supports tobacco users as they quit and try to remain smokefree and creating a healthier environment for our children.
This new report is a wake up call for all of us. We need to take the necessary steps to build a healthy community. It matters. Here's hoping that our community leaders and public health officials will take the time to review this report and take action on effective smokefree policies.
Ann Newton, Eileen Johnson, Patti Harmless, Ruth Ralph