When Partnerships Improve Health: How San Antonio’s Mayor and Health Commissioner Implemented CityHealth Policies Together

When we talk about partnerships that truly impact health, we think of leaders like San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and his health commissioner, Dr. Colleen Bridger. Mayor Nirenberg and Dr. Bridger embraced the tools and resources of our CityHealth initiative to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco age to 21; expand access to high-quality pre-kindergarten; increase opportunity for walking, biking, and public transit; and expand access to healthier food choices.

On the role of policy in improving health at the local level, Mayor Nirenberg said, “I’m a big believer in personal freedoms — your ability to make decisions as it relates to your own personal life. But the truth of the matter is it costs us a lot of money annually to have poor health. It costs us when areas of our city are left in a cycle of generation poverty. The money that we’re investing and the balance that we create in terms of public policy geared toward improving health is benefiting people in the long run. At the end of the day, we have to rely back on the community’s vision of better health and our mission as public officials to provide it.”

In discussing the CityHealth policy package as a tool for change, Dr. Bridger said, “The thing about public health is there really aren’t normal lines. Everything we do is aimed at making the community healthier. And when you look at what makes the community healthier, it’s things like pre-K, education, and access to public transportation so that people have cleaner air and cleaner water. All those upstream factors that we like to talk about in public health, at the city level you can actually start to pass some of those policies and make a difference.”

Mayor Nirenberg and Dr. Bridger recently talked to Joshua Sharstein for the American Health Podcast from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative, a project of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Read more:

National Study Recognizes San Antonio’s Health Policy Initiatives,” Rivard Report

After Tobacco 21, Metro Health Director Seeks ‘Culture of Health’ for San Antonio,” Rivard Report

San Antonio Bans Tobacco Sales to Young Adults Under 21,” San Antonio Express-News

 

 

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Written by Mark Miller

Mark Miller is the Vice President of Communications at the de Beaumont Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @mmiller20910.