Santa Clara County Presents Top Public Health Award to Palo Alto

Public Health Department recognizes City for reducing secondhand smoke, their Safe Routes to School program, and other achievements

The County of Santa Clara will present awards to the City of Palo Alto at tonight’s scheduled City Council meeting, including the “Best Overall” award recognizing the City for new public health policies adopted this year. Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer for the County and Director of the Public Health Department, will present the awards.

Launched by the County of Santa Clara in 2016, the Healthy Cities Initiative supports cities and towns in their adoption of policies that improve health and prevent chronic disease and unintentional injury. Annual dashboards for each city and town in the County track the policies and practices that have changed, and the Public Health Department presents annual awards to recognize that work.

“We are delighted to work with the City of Palo Alto to support policies that will help prevent chronic diseases and improve the health and well-being of residents,” said Dr. Sara Cody. “We collaborated with the City on their tobacco sales ordinance that will keep tobacco away from kids and restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products marketed to children and youth.”

The “Best Overall” award also recognizes Palo Alto’s Safe Routes to School program that encourages more students walking and biking safely to school, a program so successful that it now serves as a model for communities across the County. In addition, the County award recognizes Palo Alto’s work to create healthier food and beverage environments. This includes installing water bottle filling stations and offering healthier snacks and drinks at meetings and events and in cafés and vending machines. This year, the World Health Organization also recognized Palo Alto as an Age-Friendly City, a distinction awarded to jurisdictions that involve older adults in decision-making and encourage older adults to retain autonomy and remain in the community by aging-in-place.

The City of Palo Alto will also receive an “Exemplary Award for Reduced Exposure to Secondhand Smoke.” The City protects residents, visitors, and workers from the harmful impacts of secondhand smoke with a smoke-free housing policy and the expansion of existing secondhand smoke protections to include outdoor public spaces.

“We are honored to receive the top award in recognition of our collective efforts to create social, cultural and physical environments that promote and support the health and well-being being of our community,” said Palo Alto Mayor Greg Scharff. “The Council has identified Healthy Cities, Healthy Communities as one of its priorities for the past two years, but it is really a lifetime value that our community supports and encourages.”

The award presentation will occur at approximately 6 p.m. during the City Council meeting in City Council Chambers at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Avenue in Palo Alto.

Through the Healthy Cities Initiative, Public Health Department staff provide technical advice to cities to improve the health of their residents, including evidence-based best practices, sample policies and ordinances adopted elsewhere, legal expertise, outreach to community groups, and data on the likely benefits.

Preventable chronic diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes take a toll on residents in Palo Alto and throughout the County of Santa Clara. They affect quality of life and result in high healthcare costs. Data on demographics, socioeconomic status, the built environment, and health status for Palo Alto and for each of the other cities in the County is available from the Public Health Department at

About the Santa Clara County Public Health Department

The Santa Clara County Public Health Department focuses on protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, disease and injury prevention, and the promotion of sound health policy.

To learn more about how the Public Health Department serves the people who live, work, study, and play in Santa Clara County, please visit our website,, and follow us on Facebook,