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Baltimore Launches Blueprint For Healthier City

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Mary Bubala joined WJZ in December 2003. She now anchors the 4-4:30...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City is on the bottom of most lists when it comes to the health of its residents.

Mary Bubala reports it launched a new initiative Tuesday to reverse course.

Outside City Hall under blue skies, a blueprint for a healthier city was unveiled.

“It details challenges and opportunities, and offers a pathway to reach a destination we all desire,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

The blueprint is called “Healthy Baltimore 2015.”  It sets 10 goals to achieve by then, including having access to quality healthcare, making Baltimore a city that’s tobacco-free, redesigning communities to prevent obesity, encouraging early detection of cancer and reducing drug and alcohol use.

Just this year, the Robert Wood Foundation ranked Baltimore on the bottom for the health of its citizens.

“One statistic in particular stuck out, and it’s 14,887. That’s the number of years of life lost before the age of 75. Simply put, far too many Baltimore City residents are dying before their time,” said Oxiris Barbot, M.D., Health Commissioner.

The city points to the high number of liquor stores and bars as a contributing factor, and it wants to reduce the number.

“We have over 35 liquor establishments in a 1,500 acre area. That’s one liquor store for every other block,” said Julius Colon, Park Heights Renaissance.

Baltimore’s rate of smoking surpasses Kentucky and West Virginia — the two states tied for the highest percentage of smokers — so new anti-smoking campaigns will be rolled out.

In addition, city officials have posted signs outside every elevator in City Hall encouraging people to take the stairs.

Getting people moving is part of the plan to cut heart disease among city residents by 10 percent.

“So many times we can point to what’s wrong, but if we don’t have a path, a clear pathway how to get there, it’s just information,” said Rawlings-Blake.

In the coming months and years, city residents will see more signs of healthy changes, including more access to cancer screenings and even more grocery stores in areas that don’t have them.

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