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Hailey Auster, New York

Hi, my name is Hailey Auster and in September I will be in 6th grade at Van Antwerp Middle School in Niskayuna, NY.

I believe the quest for health in New York State is very important and on July 5th, I testified before the Schenectady County Legislature to support increasing the tobacco purchase age to 21.  I think it’s important that lawmakers hear the opinion of people from a different generation when deciding what laws to pass.  I also believe that adolescents still have a lot to learn about drug awareness and by age 21, when  their school career is almost finished, they can make a more educated decision about using tobacco.   After my Tobacco 21 testimony, I was excited to be featured on the local news – they even spelled my name correctly and used my tagline:  Smoking Upsets Your Health and Not Smoking Sets Up Your Health.

The American Heart Association, I think, is really important to the State of New York because they teach people CPR and help keep kids from smoking!   I am proud to be an AHA advocate!

 

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Advocacy Staff Attends Policy Summit in Minneapolis!

The last week of June was a busy one for myself, Robin (NYC) and Patricia (Boston). The three of us spent a few days in Minneapolis at a Voices For Healthy Kids Policy Summit, where we discussed campaign work around Healthy Food Financing Initiatives, Physical Education, and Complete Streets. We met colleagues all across the country that are either working on similar campaigns as we are or have successfully implemented one of these campaigns in their own state.

Attached is a picture of the Twin Cities Mobile Market - which was an old Metro Transit Bus that they converted into a grocery store on wheels. This bus brings affordable, healthy foods to under-resourced neighborhoods. The bus stopped by to pay us a visit and let us tour their very successful enterprise!

We came away with so many new tools and resources to use in our upcoming campaigns and all three of us are anxious to get home and get to work!

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Significant Funding Headed to NYC Schools for Physical Education!

Thanks to the incredible efforts of American Heart Association advocates and our partners in the Phys Ed 4 All coalition, New York City is investing some serious funding in our mission to improve physical education for every student!

New York City Council approved a $9 million appropriation, originally proposed in the Mayor's executive budget proposal, that will ensure every elementary school has a certified PE teacher, and enough training and resources to make sure every school complies with the state standards for quality physical education.

This is a significant win that wouldn't have been possible without the years of effort that has come before it.  From the moment the American Heart Association's Advocacy Committee in NYC released the results of our survey research which showed rampant non-compliance in early 2013, we have been pushing the city to help find a solution.  The passage of the city's new PE Report Card law in November has instigated a remarkable focus by this administration to work proactively toward PE improvements.  The PE Works initiative, funded by Council last year, and the Mayor's new investment, will go a long way to change the current reality for NYC kids.  Thanks to their leadership, our mission to make sure every student has access to quality PE will soon be realized!

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Capital Region Heart Walk Brings Out Hundreds, Many Learn CPR

Over the weekend, the Capital Region Heart Walk was held at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Despite the rain and the wind, the event brought out hundreds of people looking to make a difference in the lives of those living with heart disease or at risk for stroke. 

In addition to walking, there were lots of people who stopped by the Advocacy table to learn what we are working on this session. Many also stopped by the CPR table to see how quick and easy it is to learn CPR. 

It was a great day to be part of the team here at AHA!

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Albany County Executive Signs Tobacco 21!

On Wednesday June 8, County Executive Dan McCoy signed Tobacco 21 into law, making it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

As you are aware, smoking is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. This new law will make it harder for youth to get their hands on tobacco products, ultimately lowering the chances dramatically of them ever starting in the first place.

Your phone calls, e-mails, texts and signatures on our Change.org petition spoke volumes to the County Executive on how important this was to you. We couldn’t have gotten this passed without all of your help!

 

Below is some local media coverage of the County Executive’s signature:

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/McCoy-to-sign-law-raising-Albany-County-s-age-to-7968808.php

http://wnyt.com/news/tobacco-buying-age-albany/4163473/?cat=10114

http://cbs6albany.com/news/local/mccoy-signs-law-you-have-to-be-21-to-buy-tobacco-in-albany-county

We are now working with advocates in Montgomery County, Cortland County and Schenectady County on their own Tobacco 21 bills! Fingers crossed that New York will soon be the next state to pass statewide legislation protecting our youth from dangerous tobacco addiction!

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Two more NYS counties interested in learning more about Tobacco 21

With all eyes on Albany County lately waiting to see if the County Executive signs the Tobacco 21 bill into law, the AHA has heard from two more counties who are interested in passing Tobacco 21 laws in their communities. Tobacco 21 would raise the legal purchase age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

On May 24, the AHA, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association and Catholic Charities of Montgomery County gave a presentation to the Montgomery County legislature on the substantial positive impact raising the smoking age would have on their community. Currently in the County, the smoking rates is 23.4%---14.4% higher then the state's average. The Legislature responded to the presentation positively and we are hopeful that bill language will be drafted soon and introduced before their next meeting at the end of June.

Cortland County also reached out to learn more about the initiative and advocates will be going to give a presentation there on June 9.

These counties would join the list of 130 current municipalities that already have Tobacco 21 laws in place, including New York City, Suffolk County, Chautauqua County, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, California and Hawaii!

Make sure to check back and see what happens next in each of these counties!

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AHA/ASA Advocates Descend on New York State Capitol for Stroke Awareness Lobby Day

On May 16, 2016 dozens of AHA/ASA volunteers arrived in Albany, New York for the 2nd Annual Stroke Awareness Advocacy Day. Coming from all over the state and comprised of stroke survivors, caregivers, neurologists, and stroke nurses, this mighty group met with over 50 legislators in support of Stroke System of Care legislation.  In summary, this bill will expand the current system of designating primary stroke centers by also designating acute stroke ready hospitals and comprehensive stroke centers. It also directs the Department of Health to inform EMS providers which hospitals are designated as stroke centers and requires EMS to have a transport protocol in place for suspected stroke patients. 

In order to put a human face on this complex issue, the AHA/ASA created a video featuring several key volunteers describing why this legislation is needed now. The video, when shown on the ubiquitous smart phone, enables the advocacy team to put a survivor, paramedic and neurologist in every meeting we have with state legislators on this bill. 

Follow this link to view the video. 

 [View:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0YWOLMp6wU]

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A Victory for NYC's Sodium Warning Icon Law!

The saga that surrounds New York City's Sodium Warning Label continues.  But every step has been a strong show of support of this policy which will help to empower consumers to make healthy decisions about the food they eat when dining out at chain restaurants.

On Thursday, May 26, the New York State’s Appellate Division, First Department denied a requested injunction by the National Restaurant Association which delayed the enforcement of the rule initially approved by the Board of Health in 2015.  You can learn more about the latest development here:  http://news.heart.org/new-york-city-can-now-enforce-sodium-warnings-on-menus/

Every challenge brought by the National Restaurant Association has been denied.  While the court case continues to assess the merits of the policy, the American Heart Association believes firmly that the sodium warning labels will help to address the public health urgency as American's continue to consume too much sodium.  These warning labels will highlight food items on the menu have more than the recommended daily limit for sodium, thus putting diners in danger of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

It's time that the National Restaurant Association stopped fighting this common sense law.  In the meantime, we look forward to seeing the rule enforced beginning next month!

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Tobacco 21 Passes in Albany County!

Today is a great day to live in Albany County. Last night the Albany County Legislature voted to pass Local Law C, which would raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. The vote was 24-13.

It was inspiring to see the work of the legislature at it's finest. While some legislators still argued against it, the number of legislators who spoke in favor of it was overwhelming.

These individual's gave their "Why". Because they are parents and want to see their children grow up without an addiction to tobacco. Because they themselves smoked and saw firsthand how easy it is for youth to get their hands on cigarettes. Because they themselves are dealing with the consequences of smoking. Because they have lost someone they love to one of the many tobacco-related health conditions.

The next step is to urge Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy to sign the bill into law. It's unclear how he will act, so the pressure is on to make sure he knows how important this legislation is and the impact it will have on Albany County's youth.

Stay tuned for more developments!

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Capital Region NY Stroke Ambassador Kicks Off American Stroke Month!

On May 5th, Stroke Ambassador Paula Symanski was joined by her New York Assemblymember Carrie Woerner as she rode her bicycle through the streets of Albany, NY -  arriving in front of the State Capitol to cheers of her friends and supporters!  May and June marks the height of the state legislative session and AHA is pushing for passage of legislation to improve stroke care in New York State.  More to come....

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