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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Military Tobacco Discounts? Similar to Lack of Walkability?

When I think about the limited number of sidewalks in Nashville, it is difficult not to feel frustrated. For every mile of roadway in the Urban Service District, there is less than 1/2 mile of sidewalk on one side.  Even around our schools, there typically is no sidewalk!

Nashville does not have a strong culture of walking.  It is difficult to get around on foot.  There are so many barriers to this healthy activity including unsympathetic drivers, limited space on the side of roads, physical barriers and landscaping.

I feel a similar rawness when I learned of the US military tobacco discount. It is very frustrating to hear excuses about why such discounts continue to exist in 2014. Rep. Steven Palazzo threw this out in support of tobacco discounts: '“What’s next? Are they going to not allow you to eat a cheeseburger?" he questioned. "Hey, caffeine is bad for you so no more coffee? No more Krispy Kreme doughnuts?' This kind of sophomoric,flimsy and frivolous excuse sounds unscientific. 

Look, smoking has clear and direct negative health effects.  Smoking leads to hospitalization stays 20% longer than for non-smokers. Those are not free.  It leads to a reduction in quality of life and life span for the smoker and for those exposed to the 2nd hand smoke.  That's not free, either.  

Similarly, sedentary lifestyles have recently been focused upon sharply as having similarly clear and negative health effects. Being sedentary has inherent ramifications including obesity, cardiovascular disease, poor conditioning (leading to falls, fractures) and links to poorer mental health. The statistics are concerning and should be considered in the costs of having a city without a funded walking plan. 

Let's stop making excuses and, instead, fund the sidewalk plan in Nashville. 

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