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New CDC Study on Poison Centers and E-cigarettes Reinforces Need for FDA Regulation

Washington, D.C., April 3, 2014 American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown made the following comments on the study released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the rise in e-cigarette calls to poison centers:

"The CDC’s latest study on e-cigarettes is in one word – disturbing. The rapid increase in calls to poison control centers for exposure to e-cigarette liquid, particularly among young children, points to a serious problem. New data such as this cries out for Food and Drug Administration oversight of these products.

With more than 51 percent of all reported e-cigarette poisonings involving children under the age of five, immediate action is needed to keep children from ingesting or coming into contact with these products. Manufacturers should disclose the ingredients and dangers of these products in clear and detailed warning labels, limit their use of fruit and candy flavors that appeal to children, and restrict the marketing and sale of e-cigarettes to youth.

E-cigarettes need to be regulated, researched and monitored closely. The American Heart Association urges the FDA to take prompt action to protect the public’s health and bring these products under its jurisdiction."

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Warn Florida Lawmakers That Big Tobacco is Back

Right now in Florida, the American Heart Association is working with the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to fight House Bill 169.  The bill originally intended to prohibit the sale of nicotine products and nicotine dispensing devices (e-cigarettes) to minors. However, an amendment was added last week that would do more harm than good in the fight to protect Florida's children from tobacco.

The amendment preempts authority to state when dealing with the regulation of sales of tobacco products including e-cigarettes.  This preemption language would strip local governments of their ability to regulate all tobacco products and e-cigarettes, overturn existing ordinances and block future opportunities to protect kids in the retail environment.  The bill now heads to the full House for a vote. 

ACTION NEEDED: Please call your Representative today and say, "Hello, my name is [name] from [city]. I would like to ask Representative [Last Name] to oppose House Bill 169."

Click here to find your Representative's contact information.  

Don't let Florida take a huge step backwards and lose decades of work at the local level to protect our youth and residents.

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Improving NJ's Physical and Financial Health Through Medicaid

In the March 28, 2014 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Centers for Disease Control released "State Medicaid Coverage for Tobacco Cessation Treatments and Barriers to Coverage-United States, 2008-2014." The American Lung Association was the lead author on this report. It outlines each state's Medicaid Coverage for tobacco cessation treatment.

New Jersey's Medicaid program provides coverage for some tobacco cessation treatments. However, coverage of FDA approved medications varies by plan and no plan covers individual or group counseling.

The Medicaid population smokes at nearly double the rate of the overall population in New Jersey, but there is proof that Medicaid coverage for tobacco treatment has been successful in bringing down smoking rates in other states. In Massachusetts, a comprehensive Medicaid benefit resulted in a 26% decrease in smoking among Medicaid beneficiaries and costs savings of $3 for every $1 spent on the benefit. Providing this benefit in the Garden State could potentially bring about a similar return on investment, for personal health and finances. Therefore, American Heart Association is working with our public health partners in New Jersey to advocate for comprehensive Medicaid coverage for tobacco treatment.

Senator Shirley Turner and Assemblyman Daniel Benson recently introduced bills in the New Jersey Legislature that would require New Jersey's Medicaid program to cover tobacco treatment. We encourage advocates like you to take a stand and make your voice heard on this important issue.

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You helped Protect Heart Health Funds

Earlier this year, we told you about efforts to consolidate many state programs, including those which protect heart disease and stroke. And while consolidation sounds nice, it means the public wouldn't have a good sense of how state funds are being spent on important health programs. Thanks to your help, the final state budget rejects attempts to consolidate and maintains funding for:

• The Tobacco Control Program

• Obesity and Diabetes Prevention funds

• The Healthy Heart Program

• The Childhood Obesity Prevention Program

• The Cardiac Services program

• Emergency Medical Services

And we know funding is critical: Heart disease and stroke are the number one and four killers of New Yorkers. However, we are making progress and with your help can continue to make New York a healthier state!

Thanks for all you do!

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Look At All We've Done

In the hustle and bustle of life, it seems there is always something that needs our attention.  Maybe it’s a lunch appointment, a meeting after work – did you remember to call your mom to wish her a happy birthday?

With so many things monopolizing our time, it begs the question: “Why do we do what we do?”  How do we choose to prioritize what gets our few free moments?  As a You’re The Cure Advocate, why do you choose to align yourself with our mission?  Do you know all that we have accomplished?

Today, we are bragging on you. Each action you have taken: every email you’ve sent to your lawmakers, every meeting you’ve attended has helped propel forward many vital pieces of legislation.  We want to tell how you’ve shaped our Mid-Atlantic Affiliate over the past few years.

Maryland:
2012 Legislative Session: tax on small cigars and all smokeless products was raised. Legislation was also passed to require insurance carriers to cover and reimburse healthcare providers for services delivered through telemedicine.
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in MD are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. 
Thank you.

North Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: required all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  In addition, a total of $2.7 million in non-recurring funding was secured for tobacco cessation and prevention programs. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in NC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital.   Also signed into law was a policy that ensures designation of Primary Stroke Centers - ensuring stroke patients receive appropriate & timely care. 
Thank you.

South Carolina:
2012 Legislative Session: advocates were able to preserve $5 million for the Smoking Prevention and Cessation Trust Fund. 
2013 Legislative Session: hospitals in SC are required to test newborns for critical congenital heart defects with pulse oximetry before they are discharged from the hospital. Additionally, the Senate passed legislation requiring all high school seniors to be proficient in CPR in order to graduate high school.  This legislation is headed to the House of Representatives, and our SC advocates will be vital in ensuring this becomes law.
Thank you.

Virginia:
2012 Legislative Session: Governor McDonnell issued Executive Directive 4, developing an implementation plan for pulse oximetry tests in hospitals. The House also required the Board of Education to develop PE guidelines for public elementary and middle schools.
2013 Legislative Session: Gwyneth’s Law was signed into law.  All high school students will be required to achieve proficiency in CPR for graduation – and all teachers must be proficient in order to achieve their licensure.  The state budget allocated $400,000 for 12-lead ECG’s for EMS, which helps to diagnose the most severe type of heart attack.
Thank you.

Washington, DC:
2012 Legislative Session: the DC City Council allocated $495,000 for tobacco control programs within the Department of Health.
2013 Legislative Session: the DC Telehealth Reimbursement Act of 2013 requires all payers to reimburse services rendered by telemedicine.
Thank you.

Advocates are driving more policies in the 2014 sessions!  Some say “It takes a village to raise a child.”  With You’re The Cure, it “takes a network to make a difference.” Each and every one of you has made a difference.

Thank you for giving your heart.

 

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Protecting Rhode Island's Kids from a New Threat

Legislation was recently heard at the Rhode Island State House that would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) to kids under the age of 18.  The bill would also require e-cigarette vendors to be licensed by the state and subject them to strong enforcement measures, including routine compliance checks and requirements for proof of age at point of purchase and delivery for online retailers.   

The tobacco industry and e-cigarette vendors are working hard to water down this bill and make it unenforceable.  Just like last year, they want to exempt e-cigarettes from the strict laws that apply to regular cigarettes and other tobacco products – laws that we fought for!  We need your help to STOP them in their tracks.   

Tell the House Judiciary Committee to pass a strong bill that will truly protect Rhode Island's kids from e-cigarettes.  Click the following link to take action today: http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=34583 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published new data last year showing that the use of electronic cigarettes among middle school and high school students more than doubled from 2011 to 2012.  The evidence is increasingly clear that e-cigarettes are particularly appealing to children and youth, likely because they, unlike conventional cigarettes, are available in a wide variety of appealing flavors, including fruit, chocolate and candy.

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Teen Zombies Invade RI State House on Kick Butts Day

More than 100 high school students from throughout the state recently descended on the Rhode Island State House for Kick Butts Day.  This important day is an opportunity for kids to STAND UP to tobacco. And kids in Rhode Island did just that – zombie-style!  Teens dressed as zombies to show the devastating effects of tobacco and to help the living quit while they still can.   

Will you STAND UP to tobacco?  Click the following link to contact your legislators and make your voice heard today! http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=34552 

The Kick Butts Day event was cosponsored by the Tobacco Free Rhode Island coalition.  The American Heart Association is a member of Tobacco Free RI and together we are promoting policies that will reduce tobacco use – the leading cause of preventable death and disease in our state.   

Our policy priorities include: securing adequate funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs to help Rhode Islanders quit and to prevent kids from ever starting this deadly habit; increasing the excise tax on cigarettes by $1.00 per pack; and, prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to youth and ensuring that e-cigarette vendors are licensed and strong enforcement measures are in place.  

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Kick Butts Day!

Today is Kick Butts Day, an annual day hosted by the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids to celebrate youth leadership and activism in the fight against big tobacco. Kick Butts Day is particularly relevant this year as we mark the anniversary of the first Surgeon General's report on smoking. A new report was released this year that found that smoking is even more dangerous than previously thought. The report concluded that cigarette smoking has many adverse effects on the body not known until now, such as causing inflammation and impairing immune function. Additionally, exposure to secondhand smoke has been “causally linked to cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular disease, and to adverse effects on the health of infants and children.”

Given the enormous public health tragedy caused by tobacco and cigarette smoking, it’s more important than ever before that North Carolina invest in tobacco prevention and cessation programs. This new report concluded that the “tobacco industry deliberately misled the public on the risks of smoking cigarettes,” and it’s important that we fund public health efforts to counter the advertising might of the industry. North Carolina will receive over $150 million from the Master Settlement Agreement this year, yet our state is barely spending $1.2 million on efforts to help smokers quit, and we are not spending a dime to prevent kids from starting to smoke in the first place. On Kick Butts Day, I hope our legislative leaders will seriously consider investing in tobacco prevention and cessation programs in 2014.

 

Many thanks to Lee Storrow, Managing Director of the North Carolina Alliance for Health, and You’re the Cure advocate for writing today’s post.

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On Kick Butts Day, Let's Commit to Making Tobacco History

American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown teamed up with Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, on a blog post for The Huffington Post this week.  Check out what they had to say about the importance of Kick Butts Day (March 19th) and the tobacco control goals our nation's leading public health and medical organizations are joining forces to achieve...

"As part of my job, I'm frequently on the go, traveling all across the country. I love interacting with people from coast to coast and seeing which trends are taking over which areas.

Sadly, no matter where I go, there's one constant: Kids who are smoking.

Long after their parents and grandparents learned of the serious health risks of tobacco products, young adults, teens -- and, even more frighteningly, pre-teens -- are still lighting up."   Read the full article.

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Spring Has Sprung and So Has Budget Season!

It’s that time of year again.  While we wait for the cherry blossoms to bloom in Washington, D.C., budget discussions are heating up between the White House and Capitol Hill. 

On March 4th, the President released his budget proposal for 2015 and now Members of Congress are working to establish their funding priorities to begin the appropriations process and eventually pass a budget.  And that’s where you come in! 

With tight economic times, we need to continue to make the case for heart disease and stroke research and prevention funding that helps drive innovation, cuts health care costs, improves the health of our workforce, protects the health of our youngest generations, and saves lives.  Basically, your lawmakers need to hear from you that the fight against our nation’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers, heart disease and stroke, must be prioritized. 

In addition to funding that would help communities support walking, biking, and recreation, and funding for nutrition programs that would improve access to healthy food and nutrition education, the President’s budget included two key issues that deserve a special note:

  • On the positive side, the budget included a public health ‘win-win’ by proposing an increase to the federal tobacco tax, which would help curb youth smoking rates, to pay for efforts to improve early childhood education, which includes nutrition and physical education for our youngest Americans. 
  • On the negative side, the budget proposed near level funding for the National Institutes of Health, which is disappointing for research-advocates who are continuing to push our nation’s lawmakers to restore significant cuts to the NIH that took place last spring.  As our AHA President Dr. Mariell Jessup said in a statement, “With a meager 1 percent increase over last year, President Obama’s proposed budget for the National Institutes of Health is utterly inadequate.”

But the President’s budget proposal isn’t the end of these decisions.  The work now shifts to Members of Congress to consider these proposals, set their priorities, and negotiate to pass a final budget.  In fact, right now, our legislators are submitting their funding priorities to leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate and we need your help to speak-up for heart disease and stroke research!  Will you take two minutes to send a quick message to Congress?  

Without us speaking up- loud and clear- for important funding increases to the NIH, we will see progress and innovation in the way we prevent, diagnose, and treat heart disease and stroke slip backward.  From the jobs it creates to the lives it saves, medical research must be made a priority in the U.S..  Speak-up today! 

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