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Medical Students Turned Advocates

Peter Evans, Christina Cahill and Lana Khuong know there is more than one way to save a life. They’ve organized CPR trainings, worked on tobacco cessation counseling protocols, coordinated cardiovascular research and fundraisers, and helped create healthy living lessons for adolescents.

They’re studying to become physicians at the University of Vermont’s Medical School, but they know that passing policy can also save lives. Lana said she was eager to become a part of a movement in which the government and civilians join to promote the well-being for all. So, all three have joined the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Committee.  

And we’re glad they did. Just recently, they talked about the dangers of sugary drinks and urged volunteers at the Vermont Heart Walk to sign petitions to Vermont legislators to pass legislation improving the availability and pricing of healthy food. They had a great time doing it and are eager to help us spread the word. Go team advocacy!

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Why New Hampshire Should Raise its Cigarette Tax

Tobacco remains the leading preventable cause of death, for heart disease and stroke and other chronic diseases. NH’s last cigarette tax increase was in 2009. Two years later, the state gave in to tobacco industry pressure and decreased its tobacco tax! At the same time, the industry raised its own price on cigarettes, so that while NH lost millions of dollars in tax revenues, Big Tobacco gained millions of dollars in new revenues, and the price of cigarettes did not change. NH’s youth rate of smoking at 13.8% is the highest of all the states in the northeast, while our state excise tax at $1.78 is the lowest. As a matter of fact, of the top 10 states in the nation with the highest tobacco tax rates, 6 are in the northeast! Why are cigarette taxes of interest to the American Heart Association and its partners? Studies have shown that youth use of tobacco decreases 7% when the retail price increases by 10%. NH could have a substantial increase in the tobacco tax and still not reach the Founders Affiliate average state tax rate of $3.00 per pack. We have a long way to go, and its time NH raised its tobacco tax rate to make tobacco product prices high enough to entice smokers to quit and prevent youth from starting. It would save lives by decreasing the number of youth and adults who smoke and who will ultimately pay the highest price from this deadly habit.

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NYC Smoking Rates Increase!

Scary but true - more New Yorkers are smoking today than they were just 4 years ago!  The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene just released data from their Community Healthy Survey that shows that smoking prevalence has increased to 16.1% in 2013 from a low of 14% in 2010.  For the first time in 7 years, New York City is home to more than 1 million smokers!  While our city has done so much to try to curb smoking, Big Tobacco is addicting more New Yorkers every day.  What is causing this increase?  We know there are three main pillars for effective tobacco control - a Smoke Free Air Law (check); a high excise tax (check - although we're no longer #1 in that category); and a well-funded tobacco control program.  Unfortunately, over the past 7 years, New York City's tobacco control program has been reduced by 36 percent.  We can do better.  We must do more to protect New Yorkers' heart-health!  Perhaps it's time that we revisit these three strongest tobacco policy interventions to see what more we can do!

Ask your Councilmember and Mayor deBlasio why we’re going in the wrong direction...Ask them to recommit to the fight to end smoking...Click on the following link: http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=35485

To learn more about the new smoking rates, visit the city's website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2014/pr035-14.shtml

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You’re the Cure Advocates Make A Difference in Mecklenburg County

On September 2nd, You’re the Cure advocates came together and attended a Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners meeting to discuss proposed tobacco-free regulations pertaining to Smoke Free Government Grounds and Tobacco Free Parks and Greenways.

During this hearing, several You’re the Cure advocates, including Juddson Rupp, Dr. Sandra Burke, and Dr. Thomas Barringer, spoke to the social and health effects of smoking. 

Juddson, speaking to social effects of smoking, said: “Not only being a survivor but being a parent and a community leader, that I’d like to see our public parks be smoke free so that it’s not so much hypocrisy when you go to a park and seeing people exercise… also seeing several people smoking or even on the golf course for that matter.”

Dr. Sandra Burke, cardiovascular scientist, AHA National Research Committee member, AHA Charlotte Metro Board member, and NC You’re the Cure member, spoke to the science of the damage smoking & second-hand smoke can have on endothelial cells in our body, damage which can ultimately produce heart attacks and even strokes.

Dr. Barringer, a physician specifying in cardiovascular disease prevention, also an AHA Charlotte Metro Board member and NC You’re the Cure member, said there were several reasons to pass the legislation, one of which is that “secondhand smoke is harmful to humans (especially the smaller they are) … it is a known cause of lung cancer and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by 25-30%.”

The American Heart Association was also joined by volunteers in other community groups, and walked away feeling confident that the reasons, both medical and social, for passing the proposed regulations were clearly and empirically supported and that the community of Mecklenburg County, as well as the Board of County Commissioners, was now more aware of why the vote on September 17th needs to be in support of the legislation.

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Mississippi Wins Again!

In August, Mississippi received national recognition for taking local action to protect citizens from the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

Americans for Non-Smokers Rights (ANR) awarded Mississippi 1st place for passing nine local smoke free laws in 2013.  Alabama and South Carolina tied for 2nd place, with Missouri, Louisiana and California all tying for 3rd place. 

 

Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of ANR, traveled to Mississippi to congratulate the first place award winners in person.  She said, "Believe it or not, this is the fourth time Smokefree Mississippi has received a Smokefree Challenge award for passing local smoke free laws.  Each time I return, I breathe a little easier knowing you are closer to protecting all workers and families in Mississippi from secondhand smoke exposure in public places and workplaces."

This makes 87 Mississippi communities with smoke free ordinances, but it only covers about 25% of the state’s population.  Despite the proven health and economic benefits, the state legislature still refuses to take action!  We will keep working hard to protect the people of our state. 




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AHA new policy recommendation calls for tighter controls on e-cigarettes

Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director

The American Heart Association issued new policy recommendations on August 25 on the use of e-cigarettes and their impact on tobacco-control efforts. Based on the current evidence, the Association’s position is that e-cigarettes that contain nicotine are tobacco products and should be subject to all laws that apply to these products.

The Association guidance also examines state smoke-free laws in relation to these products. While the toxic substances in e-cigarettes are lower than those in cigarette smoke, non-smokers could be involuntarily exposed to nicotine in any confined space where e-cigarettes are used. Unregulated e-cigarettes could potentially turn back the clock to the days when smoking in public was normal behavior, undoing years of work on smoke-free laws and hampering current enforcement. Given these concerns, the Association supports including e-cigarettes in these state laws, if the change can be made without weakening existing laws.

The AHA has received calls from business partners seeking guidance on e-cigarette usage in their workplace as some employee’s use of the devices at work have caused disruptions with co-workers not wanting to be exposed to the various aerosol toxins emitted by e-cigarettes. The AHA will join community partners during Hawaii’s 2015 State Legislative Session to work to incorporate e-cigarettes into Hawaii’s smoke-free air law. Watch for advocacy updates on this issue and your opportunity to support efforts to continue to protect public health in work and other public places.

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Gearing Up for a Smoke-free Alaska

Now that summer has come and gone, it is time to start gearing up for the Alaska legislative session.  This year we plan to continue our pursuit of statewide legislation to make Alaska’s workplaces smoke-free.  As you may remember, more than half of Alaskans live in communities with smoke-free workplace laws in place, but the remaining population lives in areas that are unable to enact smoke-free workplace laws due to limited power in the local government.  

Thanks to the actions and support of dedicated advocates like yourself last year, we created momentum towards passing a statewide policy and laid groundwork that will set us up for success this year!  If you haven’t already done so, please join the campaign by visiting: smokefreealaska.com.

Want to show your support for smoke-free workplaces in Alaska? Just click here for some fun choices!

Why should all indoor workplaces in Alaska be smoke-free?  The 2006 surgeon general’s report states “the evidence is sufficient to infer a causal relationship between exposure to secondhand smoke and increased risks of coronary heart disease among both men and women.”  All Alaskans have the right to breathe smoke-free air.

For more information on why we support limiting secondhand smoke exposure, please visit here.

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$57.81

Last evening, I took a trip to CVS. I don’t generally shop there—it is out of my way and I can get the same things at the grocery store. However, I thought it was important to support a business that understands how tobacco can ruin people’s health and their lives. CVS stopped selling cigarettes and gained a new customer. Pharmacies are health care providers. They should not be selling the only product that, when used as directed, will addict you and make you sick. Tobacco use kills almost half a million people each year.

My daughter started kindergarten yesterday, she was really not in the mood to run errands, but when I explained why we were going to CVS she ran and got her shoes. She wishes that everyone would stop "cigaretting" and knows that once people start they have a hard time quitting. She sees the effects of tobacco use on some of the people she loves, hears the coughs, and it makes her sad.

I plan to make a few trips each month to CVS and to use CVS for my prescriptions. Sure, it may be a bit of a hassle—and I don’t have a lot of extra time—but it is important.

Will you join me? Health care providers should not be enabling cigaretting. Just ask a 5-year old.

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Dr. Jan Carney, Vermont

The American Heart Association recently released a new position paper on e-cigarettes and reconfirmed its desire for the Food and Drug Administration to take action soon to regulate these devices.  Vermonters like the Attorney General, the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and Dr. Jan Carney, a member of the American Heart Association’s Vermont Board and Associate Dean for Public Health at UVM’s Medical School also think that’s a good idea. 

Dr. Carney recently talked about her concern that the use of e-cigarettes by high school students doubled in just one year.

Watch the whole interview here.  http://www.mychamplainvalley.com/story/the-dangers-of-e-cigs/d/story/PIPrZC8miEuUxV9blB8nBQ

The AHA worked with the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont and the Vermont Legislature this past session to ban the use of e-cigs in Vermont schools and daycares.

Join us in urging your legislators to also include restrictions on e-cigarettes in Vermont’s clean indoor air laws.

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Teen Tobacco Sales Tighten Down in Minnesota

The Public News Service - MN wrote up a great article on Minnesota Retailers tightening their compliance to tobacco sales to teens, check it out!  (Photo - Tony Alter / Flickr)

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota retailers do better at thwarting teens' attempts to buy tobacco than retailers in any other state, according to a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The ranking is earning praise, although some anti-smoking advocates say the figures aren't really consistent with what's happening at the local level.

Only 1 percent of retailers in the state failed compliance checks in 2013, according to the report, but Jeannie Weigum, president of the Association for Nonsmokers - Minnesota, said that's misleading. Continue reading here

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