On April 20, 2015, dozens of dedicated American Heart Association volunteers from across Pennsylvania converged on the State Capitol to raise awareness of important heart and stroke-related policy issues. For a number of attendees, this was their first-ever advocacy day, and they found it to be a very informative and rewarding experience.
As part of the day’s event, AHA hosted a press conference focused on CPR as a graduation requirement. In addition, we were thrilled to have the smoke-free bill sponsors, Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery) and Representative Tom Murt (R-Montgomery), take part in the press conference to show their support for AHA and the clean indoor air issue.
Throughout the day, volunteers took to the Capitol halls, speaking to Legislators and their staff on three specific issues:
- Tobacco Taxes. Governor Tom Wolf has proposed to increase the cigarette tax by $1 per pack and levy a 40 percent wholesale tax on other tobacco products. Study after study shows that increasing tobacco taxes reduces youth smoking, helps adult smokers quit, and reduces smoking-related deaths.
- Hands-only CPR Training in Schools. AHA is leading the way to support efforts that would ensure students graduating from high school are provided with a hands-only, 30-minute CPR training. We believe that learning the basic skill of physically administering CPR will ensure every high school graduate is ready to step up and save a life.
- Clean Indoor Air. For many years, AHA has supported strengthening Pennsylvania’s smoke-free law, known as the “Clean Indoor Air Act.” The law was enacted in 2008 and contains over a dozen exemptions, far more than any surrounding state. These workplaces, where smoking is permitted, exposes Pennsylvania workers, and the public, to the dangers of secondhand smoke. Legislation has been introduced in the House (House Bill 682) and the Senate (Senate Bill 567) that would remove the exemptions.
The efforts of our volunteers truly made an impact in Harrisburg! Their involvement, personal stories and engagement are an important part of how we fulfill our mission of building healthier lives, free from cardiovascular disease and stroke.