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Governor Cuomo's 2016 budget proposal doesn't do enough!

On January 13, Governor Cuomo laid out his 2016 agenda in a combined State of the State and budget address in Albany.  

While my colleague Martha and I sat in the Convention Center and anxiously waited to hear how Governor Cuomo would be supporting programs that protect New Yorkers from heart disease and stroke, we were disappointed to find out that there was nothing included in the executive budget that would aid healthy food access or CPR in Schools support.

The Governor and the state legislature share the responsibility for how New York organizes its budget. It is critical that the final budget include funding for health-related programs we know will save our state money by improving the health of all New Yorkers.

Help us tell Governor Cuomo and legislative leaders to invest in the American Heart Association budget priorities!

Click here for more information about the New York Healthy Food and Healthy Communities fund.

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Smaller Stomachs Deserve the Healthiest Meals

New York City may be moving forward to help improve the quality of meals served to kids in our restaurants - but they're not going far enough!  The current version of the bill, just posted for a vote in the Council Health Committee - only affects meals that have a toy connected to it.  While these meals are clearly marketed toward our kids, there are many other restaurants that don't use toys for their promotion.  Kids meals on menus from 'family-friendly' restaurants are often among the most egregious culprits, with loads of salt, fat and sugar!  Let's make sure NYC gets this right so we can lead the country in the right direction!  All restaurants that have kids' menus should meet high quality nutritional requirements for those meals!

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Healthy Food Access = Good for our Bottom Line!

Whether you're talking about health or wealth...supporting healthy food retail is a winning equation! 

All across New York, AHA advocates are talking about the need for Governor Cuomo and our state leaders to invest public funding wisely.  Healthy food retail is a proven winner.  When New York devoted funding to healthy food financing 6 years ago, 20 new food markets were built in neighborhoods that need them the most.  These communities have benefited not only from improved access to healthier food options, but also from the jobs created as a result.  Since the program was initially established, 441 permanent jobs were created.  This is in addition to the 622 construction jobs that happened as markets were built.

To learn more about this issue, check out this video created by one group of volunteers in NYC:  https://youtu.be/-vL0okLFUTY

And then help us send a message to lawmakers by texting 'Healthy Food' to 52886!

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We must do more in the fight against tobacco in New York!

A new report released today by a coalition of public health organizations, including the AHA, ranks New York State 20th in the country in funding programs to prevent kids from smoking and help smokers quit.

 

The report explains that New York State is spending $39.3 million this year on tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which is just 19.4 percent of the $203 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For every $1 that New York spends on tobacco prevention programs, tobacco companies are spending $6 to promote it.

 

The report, titled “Broken Promises to Our Children: A State-by-State Look at the 1998 State Tobacco Settlement 17 Years Later”, also indicates that 7.3 percent of high school students smoke, and 10,600 kids become regular smokers each year in New York State.  This equates to 28,200 lives lost and $10.4 billion spent on health care costs in the state annually.

 

While preventing and reducing tobacco use is a cornerstone of public health, this report proves that not enough is being done in New York to address the impact of tobacco use on health. New York has continuously lead others in the pursuit of quality tobacco control, however, our work is far from over. We need to continue advocating for sustainable funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs that meet or exceed CDC recommendations as well as providing tobacco control programs that are comprehensive, staffed appropriately, and administered effectively.

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Investing in Good Health

Now that we have a full team in place to help lead the AHA's advocacy in Albany, we are full steam ahead!  This past week, Kristin, Martha and Robin met with key staff members from Governor Cuomo's office who are helping to craft his focus for the upcoming state budget.  With so many important initiatives to consider by the administration, the AHA is working hard to elevate the need to invest public dollars in areas where there is the best possible opportunity to improve New Yorkers' health.

As you no doubt have seen, our topmost priority this year is to reinstate New York's focus on healthy food retail.  In the past, the state's support has resulted in 20 new food markets, all built in neighborhoods that needed them the most.  Our work is not yet done - 32 of New York's 62 counties still have significant burdens regarding access to healthy foods.  To learn more about our proposed solution, and to send a message to Governor Cuomo and other state leaders, please visit the Action Center and make sure you respond to the posted alert!

Our meeting with the Governor's office also covered top priorities addressing chronic disease in the state budget such as diabetes prevention, controlling hypertension, and improving tobacco control.  A new request for the AHA this year is to ask for devoted funds to support schools who would like to implement a more robust CPR training program for students.  Making sure that the CPR in Schools law is fully implemented, and encouraging schools to go beyond the basic training, is something we can all get behind!

As the Governor's executive budget proposal is due in just a few weeks, please continue to respond to any action alerts you find in your inbox!  It's important that our state leaders hear from us often in order to keep our requests top of mind.  Stay tuned for updates as budget discussion continues!

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Martha Auster, New York

My name is Martha Auster and I am thrilled to join Kristin Salvi and Robin Vitale to complete the expanded government relations team for New York State! 

I first witnessed the extraordinary reach of American Heart Association volunteers and staff early in my public affairs career when I was a staff member at the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society.  During this time, I collaborated with the AHA to achieve significant public policy victories in state tobacco control.    From the voluntary health world my work lead to the provider sector where I had the privilege of advocating on behalf of NYS physicians as a lobbyist for the Medical Society of the State of NY.   I am most proud of leading a legislative campaign that secured passage of legislation to require newborn hearing screening in New York State.  All of this experience, plus several years in the biotechnology industry, gives me the foundation to lead the AHA engagement on issues related to emergency response, systems of care and assuring access to the best treatment for heart disease and stroke patients.

The “Life is Why” focus (learn more here ) of the AHA has particular resonance for me as both of my parents died from heart disease.  My dear father had a massive myocardial infarction and despite the best efforts of EMS, could not be revived.  He diligently made healthy lifestyle choices but simply could not overcome a strong genetic predisposition to heart disease.   My mother was a life-long smoker and despite several attempts to quit, she was unable to break her nicotine addiction and ultimately died of a ruptured aorta.   My story is far from unique, therefore to honor the lives of my parents and to secure a healthy future for my children, foe me “Family is Why.”  I look forward to working with the amazing AHA advocacy volunteers to achieve Mission 2020. 

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A Victory for Improving PE!

Before the beginning of the next school year, New York City parents will know whether or not their child receives adequate physical education. Thanks to you all - our You're the Cure network - the PE Reporting Bill is now law in New York City after nearly 5 years of effort!

Thanks to your advocacy, on October 29th, the City Council voted unanimously in support of the bill.  And fast forward just a few days later... on November 4th, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed the PE Reporting bill into law!

Our campaign is not over yet.  We had hoped that the report would include some details related to other quality criteria, such as the description of the curriculum used by each school for their PE programs.  We think parents deserve to know what their kids are being taught, and if the school uses current, evidence-based curriculum. Additionally, when we see the first report due in August (and every August thereafter), we expect there will be additional work ahead to help schools further improve their PE programs.  So rest up because our fight continues!

But for now, let's celebrate our new PE Reporting Law!  Thanks to you, our Council champions, Comptroller Stringer and Mayor de Blasio...our city is taking strong steps in the right direction to help us achieve our mission - quality physical education for every student in New York City!

 

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Kristin Salvi, New York

My name is Kristin Salvi and I am the newest member of the Government Relations team in New York! I look forward to the opportunity to champion our policy goals related to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.  Coming from doing advocacy work for the New York State Nurses Association, and most recently working for the state of New York, my background includes advocating for public health issues such as the CPR in Schools law, sugary sweetened beverage (SSB) tax bills, childhood obesity prevention programs, and many other important campaigns. I am excited to join with all of you here at the American Heart Association because I value the great work the organization has achieved on tobacco control, the healthy food and active living initiatives, access to care, and many other important public health topics.

 

As a new staff member of the American Heart Association, I've been learning about our platform, "Life is Why." (To learn more, click here.)  Being a relatively new mom of almost three year old twins, they are my 'why.' I want my kids to grow up in a world where receiving quality physical education in schools in the norm, healthy food is accessible to all regardless of where you live,  everyone has access to quality health care regardless of income, and everyone can live and breathe in a smoke-free environment. Although I may be aiming high, my reason for being so passionate on these issues is to make the world a better place for them. I look forward to working with all of you on all of the good stuff we are planning to do in the future!

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When New Yorkers Can't Eat Healthy Foods...

The first Wednesday in November is National Eating Healthy Day!  It's a great opportunity to take stock of our eating habits, and perhaps do a bit more to feed ourselves and our families healthier foods.  For about 1.7 million New Yorkers, however, that is easier said than done.  More than half of New York's counties are home to neighborhoods without access to healthy foods.  You read that right - 1.7 million New Yorkers, in 32 counties, are burdened with a lack of food markets or corner stores offering fresh, healthy foods.  In honor of the event, help us send a strong message to Governor Cuomo that he should invest in the health and economy of New York.  Click here to take action and send your email to the Governor now!

Help the AHA improve access to healthy foods so every New Yorker has the opportunity to celebrate National Eating Healthy Day!

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Should New York Pursue a Tax on Sugary Drinks?

Hi, everyone!

My name is Pam Bonney and I'm a member of the American Heart Association's Advocacy Committee in New York. I wanted to share my thoughts about a recent editorial from the New York Times (What a Big Tax on Soft Drinks Can Do- 10/19/15).  

Overconsumption of sugary beverages is a global problem and the overdose of sugar consumption in the American diet is a major contributing cause of this country’s alarming rate of obesity. Unfortunately, we exist in a time in which we are drinking most of our calories.

Consuming large quantities of sugary drinks can dramatically increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases. One significant intervention that must be considered is to increase the retail price of sugary drinks. As the Times editors described, Mexico levied a peso per liter tax in 2013, and sales of sugary beverages were reduced by 12 percent when compared with the previous year. 

New York leaders could certainly improve public health by following Mexico’s lead and implement an excise tax on sugary drinks. Such a tax is a necessary tool to motivate healthier beverage selection. Imagine the impact to our health and our economy!

What do you think?  Should New York state implement an excise tax on sugary drinks?

- Pam

Pamela Bonney, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition and Health Consultant, Co-founder, Tried and True Nutrition, Inc.

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