American Heart Association - You’re the Cure

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Score: Vaping Industry 1 Public Health 0

State Senate adjourns without taking action to stop vaping in workplaces.  

A loophole in state law allows electronic cigarettes to be used where smoking is prohibited.  The American Heart Association joined with numerous public health groups in calling on state lawmakers to close this loophole.  Why are e-cigarettes still allowed in places where you can't smoke?  The short answer is because e-cigarettes didn’t exist when the earlier law was passed.  That's why numerous localities have passed local laws.  We are happy to report the NYS Assembly sided with public health and passed legislation, sponsored by Assemblywoman Rosenthal, to close this loophole.

Despite the championship of Senator Hannon, the bill's sponsor, the Senate failed to bring the bill for a vote. Given the large support from the public health community, it is disappointing to see some lawmakers heed the advice of the vaping and tobacco industry.

We need more research about the long-term health impact of e-cigarettes. We do know e-cigarettes are dangerous because they target young people, can keep people hooked on nicotine, and threaten to “re-normalize” tobacco use.  Even more disturbing, according to a new report from the CDC, e-cigarette use tripled among U.S. middle and high school students in just one year.

Thank you to everyone that helped move this bill forward in the Assembly.  We will continue to work to close the e-cigarette loophole in the next state session! 

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Governor Raimondo Signs Rhode Island Stroke Bill Into Law

Governor Gina Raimondo has signed our stroke bill into law – ensuring the best possible care for stroke patients in the Ocean State!  The bill had been unanimously approved by the Rhode Island House and Senate. 

The new law makes some important updates to the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act of 2009. While the changes in the stroke bill are fairly minor, they are important and will allow the Rhode Island Stroke Task Force to continue its charge of improving the system of care for stroke patients in the Ocean State.  Revisions include: 

  • Relaxing the stroke registry reporting requirement by allowing hospitals flexibility to use different data platforms; 
  • Adding a Comprehensive Stroke Center designation.  This is a level above the Primary Stroke Centers created by the original law - there is already one hospital in Rhode Island that has achieved this high level designation; and,
  • Requiring an annual review of the EMS Pre-Hospital Care Protocol for stroke.  

When the Stroke Prevention and Treatment Act was enacted nearly six years ago, there were just two Primary Stroke Centers in Rhode Island.  We now have seven Primary Stroke Centers and one Comprehensive Stroke Center.  Thanks to the work of the Stroke Task Force and dedicated You’re the Cure advocates, Rhode Island is considered a national model for stroke care.   

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2015 Rhode Island Legislative Session - Wrap Up

The Legislative Session came to an abrupt end on June 25th after House and Senate negotiations reached an impasse. Dozens of bills were left in limbo – including our competitive foods/school nutrition & healthy school marketing bills.

As you know, the competitive foods/school nutrition bill and the healthy school marketing bill were top priorities for the American Heart Association and our coalition partners.  The first bill would have updated Rhode Island’s competitive foods/school nutrition guidelines to align with new USDA regulations (competitive foods means anything sold outside of – and in competition with – the school meals program such as vending, a la carte, school stores and in-school fundraisers).  The second bill would have ensured that only healthy foods and beverages are advertised and marketed to children on school property. 

Both bills were unanimously approved by the Rhode Island Senate.  On the last day of session, our competitive foods/school nutrition bill gained momentum – it was quickly approved by the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee and immediately placed on the House floor calendar.  As far as we know, our healthy school marketing bill was part of a bundle of smaller bills that were still being negotiated by the House and Senate.  Later that night, the House and Senate came to a stalemate and the session abruptly ended.  Dozens of bills were left on the floor calendar – including our competitive foods/school nutrition bill.  Our healthy school marketing bill was left on the negotiating table. Unfortunately, this had nothing to do with the merit of our bills and everything to do with politics – which made it extra disappointing. 

We came so close to victory – and it’s the outreach of our amazing You’re the Cure advocates that helped us get to that point!  We will be ready at the earliest opportunity to tackle these bills again – whether it’s during a special session this fall or January 2016.

In the meantime, we need to celebrate our two big wins this year: our stroke bill was signed into law by Governor Raimondo, ensuring quality care for all stroke patients in Rhode Island; and, the Rhode Island Department of Health adopted regulations ensuring that every newborn in Rhode Island will receive a pulse oximetry test to screen for critical congenital heart defects effective July 1, 2015.  Congratulations everyone!!!

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Kansas 2015 Legislative Wrap-Up

The 2015 Kansas legislative session recently came to an end after weeks of long and contentious debate. Thank you to our You’re the Cure advocates whose countless letters of support, e-mails, phone calls and visits with lawmakers were vital in helping us maintain heart healthy policies in Kansas! Below is a legislative wrap-up outlining all of the progress we made with your help.



Tobacco Tax

  • The Kansas Legislature approved a 50-cent increase to the state’s tobacco tax.
  • The new tax on a pack of cigarettes will be $1.29.
  • This is the 30th highest in the nation and roughly, 25¢ below the national average.
  • The tax will raise an estimated $40 million in additional revenue for Kansas while reducing smoking rates by nearly 7%.
  • 8,400 Kansans under the age of 18 will avoid becoming adult smokers.
  • 8,600 adult smokers would quit smoking with this increase.

Tobacco Prevention

  • American Heart Association advocated for additional prevention funding. We believe a stronger foundation was established and will continue to build on these efforts next session.
  • Less than $1 million is currently allocated for prevention from the state.
  • The CDC recommends Kansas spend $27.9 million on a program modeled after the best practices for prevention and cessation initiatives.
  • Adequately funding tobacco prevention programs in Kansas is critical to long-term, sustained reductions in tobaccos usage.


  • Lawmakers approved several new provisions regarding electronic cigarettes.
  • Approved language establishes a tax on the nicotine-based refills for e-cigarettes.
  • The AHA is cautious of the language that could reduce future FDA regulations of e-cigarettes that is being developed nationally.
  • There’s still a lot unknown about long-term health implications of e-cigarettes and their efficacy as a cessation tool.
  • With so much unknown about the product it is dangerous to pass legislation, as Kansas did, without formal discussions and hearings.

Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening (Pulse Ox)

  • A bill establishing standards for CCHD screening using pulse oximetry did not receive a hearing in the committee this year.
  • The Kansas Health Department and Environment announced all Kansas newborns are being screened.
  • The AHA is pleased that all newborns are reportedly being screened but we are concerned that compliance is voluntary. We will continue to push for legislation or administrative rules to ensure newborns are screened using pulse oximetry testing with recommended standards.

Thank YOU! Please stay tuned to your e-mails on how you can help us with our life-saving mission. As always, thank you for everything you do. We appreciate your advocacy efforts and support of the American Heart Association!

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Students in Connecticut Will Learn CPR before they Graduate

Thanks to our advocates hard work and dedication Governor Malloy signed a bill on June 23rd requiring all schools to include CPR as part of the health and safety curriculum. Connecticut students will now have direct access to sensible and affordable training that will equip them with the lifesaving skills necessary to administer CPR if they encounter someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. So far, 23 states across the country have passed laws requiring every high school student to be CPR-trained before graduation, and it’s paying off. Graduates from just one school in Long Island, N.Y., have saved 16 lives since being trained. Congratulations on making Connecticut the 24rd state to require CPR training before graduation. I’m proud of all your hard work and you should be too.

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Study Brings Healthy Drink Changes to UVM

A study by UVM Professor Rachel Johnson has found that a ban on bottled water at the university has actually increased sugary drink purchases.

The ban was implemented in 2013 as a way to reduce pollution from plastic bottles. But it has had negative consequences according to the study. These include making students and faculty more likely to purchase sugary drinks when water isn’t available in vending machines, no reduction in the bottle waste and a significant increase in sugary drinks shipped to the campus.

Professor Johnson is an AHA volunteer who has championed the effort to decrease sugary drink consumption to lessen obesity. Though Johnson’s study found negative impacts from the ban, the release of the study has brought some positive changes to the school.

UVM is now requiring that at least half of drinks offered must have 40 calories or less. Drink dispensing machines will have water options added with free cups and the school will start monitoring the number of unhealthy vs. healthy drinks sold.

Read more about the study here.

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Vermont Heart Walk to Highlight the Team Effort that Saved a Local Coach!

Vermont advocates pushed for passage of legislation in 2012 that required schools to teach students Hands-only CPR and the importance of an AED (automated external defibrillator). Its efforts like these that have raised awareness to the need for public access to defibrillation and a strong chain of survival. Many schools now have AEDs on hand, including at sporting events.

It’s a good thing. The American Heart Association’s Vermont Heart Walk on September 26th will highlight the successful effort that saved the life of Rice High School Girls’ Basketball Coach Tim Rice from a cardiac arrest during a game against CVU this winter. The CVU team had the foresight to bring their AED to the game with them. That AED, along with many quick actions from bystanders and EMS enabled the coach to give a thumbs up as he left the game instead of much worse outcome.

We’ll honor Cardiologist Ed Terrien, who performed CPR on Coach Rice that day. Join Dr. Terrien and hundreds of others walking at the Vermont Heart Walk at Oakledge Park in Burlington on September 26th to raise funds for life-saving research.

There will also be Heart Walks on September 12th in Swanton and September 19th in Berlin. You can register for any of the walks at Do it today and make a commitment to save lives. Get your friends and family together for a great day and a great cause!

You can also ensure that your community and school have a strong chain of survival by contacting your local high school and asking if the school has an AED and making sure students are CPR-trained.

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Volunteer Peter Evans Found Writing a Letter Makes a Difference

As the old adage says, “It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.” Advocacy helps us to speak up and out about issues that are important to us.  The more we do, the more our message spreads. As volunteer Peter Evans found out during our sugary drink campaign, speaking up, even on paper, can have an impact.

Evans wrote a letter to his local paper the Brattleboro Reformer emphasizing the importance of passing an excise tax on sugary drinks that would reduce consumption of these drinks and help fight the obesity crisis.

"We have only a few real options," Evans wrote. "Continue on our current course and let the cost of obesity continue to spiral, or take tangible, evidence-based steps towards improving healthcare through policy and prevention."

The paper agreed and wrote an editorial supporting the effort, “Sugary Drinks: Tax the heck out of them.” You can read it here.  And Peter’s message spread to hundreds of Vermonters.

You too can be a catalyst for change. Though the sugary drink excise tax did not pass this year, obesity is still a crisis and sugary drink consumption is far too high. Help us continue to spread the word by writing a letter to your own newspaper. 

Tell them a new study by the University of North Carolina reported this month that sugary drink sales dropped 6% on average after a sugary drink excise tax was implemented in Mexico. We should give it a chance here. Click here for a list of Vermont newspapers and the emails where you can submit your letter.

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Register for Heart Walk in Your Community!

Did you know that cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans? In fact, someone dies from CVD every 39 seconds! Heart disease also kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.  And congenital cardiovascular defects are the most common cause of infant death from birth defects.

Find your local Heart Walk and get started today! Join your company team, start a team of your own, or join as an individual - whatever you choose, you can make a difference in people’s lives – including your own!

When you join Heart Walk, you join more than a million people in 300+ cities across American in taking a stand against heart disease and helping save lives! The funds you raise in the Heart Walk will support projects like these:

Putting up-to-the-minute research into doctors' hands so they can better prevent and treat heart disease among patients.

Groundbreaking pediatric heart and stroke research.  About 36,000 babies are born with heart defects each year - research is the key to saving babies' lives.

Getting life-saving information to those who need it most - information that can save a life, like how to eat better, how to recognize the warning signs of heart attack, and how to talk to a doctor about critical health choices. 

Everyone has a reason to live a healthier, longer life. The Heart Walk is the American Heart Association's premier event in your community. It promotes physical activity and heart-healthy living in a fun, family environment. It is a time of celebration for those who have made lifestyle changes and encourages many more to take the pledge to live healthier lifestyles while raising the monies needed to fund life-saving research and education, advocate for health and SAVE lives! What are you waiting for? Participate and share your why or possibly discover your why!

Register for an upcoming Heart Walk in your Community!

Eastern South Dakota Heart Walk, Saturday, August 22nd, Falls Park, Sioux Falls

Black Hills Heart Walk, Saturday, September 12th, Main Street Square, Rapid City

Central South Dakota Heart Walk, Saturday, September 19th, Hyde Stadium, Pierre

Central South Dakota Heart Walk, Saturday, September

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MN Legislator and Advocate of Year Named at June Celebrations!

This month we awarded our top legislators and advocates who went above and beyond this past fiscal year, fighting to reduce heart disease and stroke!

Advocate of the Year: Dale Wakasugi
The advocate of the year award is given to the volunteer who has gone above and beyond during the legislative session and worked tirelessly! This volunteer has done just that this year.  He has sent many emails to his local, state and federal lawmakers, met with legislators on several occasions including our first ever legislative breakfast, recruited new advocates at the Twin Cities Heart Walk, made phone calls, traveled to Washington DC and has spread the word about our cause through social media. This year’s advocate of the year took more actions this year than any other advocate in Minnesota! He also took on the role of Chair for the Minnesota State Advocacy Committee and committed to being a leader by example to this group. He makes our jobs very easy.

Champion of the Year: Jack Olwell
Jack Olwell received our Champion of the Year Award for his continued leadership on physical education policy. As an elementary school physical education teacher in Farmington, Jack has made health and academic success of his students a priority by establishing a strong physical education program at his school. He has parlayed his decades of experience as a teacher and encyclopedic knowledge of the benefits of physical education into advocacy at the state Capitol. Jack went above and beyond this year at the Capitol by attending weekly strategy meetings on our legislative strategy. He was our go-to expert as we hashed out the language and strategy for our bill to make PE stronger in Minnesota.  He played a critical role by providing compelling testimony in the Senate and by persuading a fellow teacher at his school, his principal, and his superintendent to offer letters of support. While we came very close, we didn’t get the physical education bill across the finish line in 2015. We’ll be back in 2016 to make sure students across Minnesota get the quality physical education to learn the life-long skills for heart health!

Legislator of the Year: Representative Nick Zerwas
The American Heart Association in Minnesota presented Rep. Nick Zerwas (Elk River) with the 2015 Legislator of the Year Award. Rep. Zerwas took a leadership role in many of our policy priorities during the 2015 legislative session. He was the chief author of not one but TWO Stroke Systems bills that became state law! One required current EMS transport protocols for stroke patients and the other secured the first ever state funding for the MN Stroke System of Care at the Department of Health! In addition, Rep. Zerwas was also the chief sponsor of a bill to create better data reporting and risk adjustment around health equity and eliminating health disparities in MN. Rep. Zerwas’ leadership and support during the 2015 legislative session will result in better healthcare for all Minnesotans regardless of who they are or where they live in the state!

Active Transportation Champion: Senator Scott Dibble
Sen. Dibble received our 2015 Active Transportation Champion Award for his leadership as Senate Transportation Chair and his unwavering support for active transportation. Sen. Dibble has been a strong supporter of biking and walking over the years and made funding for active transportation an important component of his comprehensive, multi-modal transportation proposal in 2015. As the 2015 Legislative session unfolded, Sen. Dibble adopted our request for $50 million per year for active transportation in his omnibus transportation bill and when there was more funding available, he included another $6 million for Safe Routes to School and active transportation. This investment in active transportation is unprecedented in Minnesota and across the nation. Sen. Dibble played a critical role in securing funding for Safe Routes to School over the last two years. We look forward to working with him over the next year to continue to make the case for safe opportunities for walking and biking in our communities and the significant new resources from the state to achieve that important heart health goal!

 Dale Wakasugi and AmandaJean Beaulieu were also recognized for their hard work at the AHA Volunteer and Donor Celebration!

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