A recently released report that examined local policies affecting the quality of life and health of residents in the country’s 40 largest cities has awarded Boston a gold medal for the second consecutive year.

The second annual report by CityHealth — an initiative of the de Beaumont Foundation and Kaiser Permanente — evaluated the cities based on nine policies it considers important to improving the health of residents. It awards each city a gold, silver, bronze, or no medal according to their overall performance in the assessment, and nine policy-specific medals to each city according to the quality and strength of the laws in place.

Boston joined four other cities – Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Jose – in earning a gold medal overall, demonstrating that those cities’ leaders have used powerful policy tools to enhance their city’s health, well-being, and economic vitality, according a CityHealth press release.

American Heart Association volunteers and staff have much to be proud of in terms of the advocacy, outreach, fundraising, and community impact that have led Boston to this gold status. For example, in 2015 Boston raised the minimum legal sales age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 and restricted the sale of flavored tobacco products to certain adult-only establishments. Earlier this month, the Massachusetts House overwhelmingly approved raising the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes and other tobacco or vaping products from 18 to 21 statewide.

In the individual categories, Boston was awarded a gold medal for its high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten, alcohol sales control, tobacco 21 laws, food safety and restaurant inspection rating, and healthy food procurement. It received a silver medal for its affordable housing/inclusionary zoning, complete streets policies, and smoke free indoor air laws. It received a bronze medal for its unearned sick leave laws.

As this success is celebrated, it is  important to note that much more work is needed to build a healthier Boston.

  • Studies show that health disparities in Boston across neighborhoods can impact life expectancy by as much as 33 years. The American Heart Association is working in numerous ways to create equitable health in all of Boston’s neighborhoods.
  • When it comes to healthy food purchasing, Boston still falls short of the American Heart Association’s Healthy Food in Public Places standards. The Association continues to work to improve nutritional standards in the food provided to employees and visitors through vending and service contracts.
  • The American Heart Association has been working with the City of Boston to develop performance measures for their Complete Streets policy implementation, and to provide dedicated staff with the authority to ensure equitable implementation for all neighborhoods. The Association has been working with Boston on this issue for many years, and plan to continue to support the city in this endeavor.
  • The American Heart Association is leading the charge to close a loophole that will make indoor air cleaner in Boston through a more comprehensive tobacco control bill. Action is expected on that bill very soon.

For more information about the American Heart Association’s public policy and community outreach work in Boston, please reach out to Patricia Mallios or Allyson Perron.

With your continued support, the American Heart Association will be able to continue saving and improving more lives in Boston.