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Port Arthur Goes Smoke-Free!

Last Tuesday, April 5th, the Port Arthur City Council voted unanimously (9-0) in favor of a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance! Port Arthur is now the 48th city in Texas to go smoke-free!

We are incredibly thankful for all our smoke-free supporters who sent emails, made calls, and testified before City Council. Your actions made this happen!

Once this ordinance goes into effect, Port Arthur residents and visitors will be able to enjoy their favorite places without the harmful effects of exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke. Restaurant and bar workers will be able to breathe easier and live healthier lives.

We would not be here without the support and dedication of our You're the Cure advocates to making Port Arthur a healthier place to live.

Thank you!

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SmokeFree Little Rock Needs YOU!

SmokeFree Little Rock is continuing its work to make all indoor workplaces free of secondhand smoke, but we need YOU!  The coalition is working to engage partners throughout the community and grow our grassroots support of the campaign in order to create a healthier Little Rock for everyone!   It’s not too late to get involved and make a difference!  

Please contact Matt Henry at Matt.Henry@heart.org for more information.

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Stories from the Street: McAllen Healthy Hearts 5k & Smoke-Free RGV

The following is a post by Local Policy Manager, Jerry Saavedra on his experience at the McAllen Healthy Hearts 5k

It was a great weekend in McAllen! This past Valentine’s Day weekend, the McAllen Heart Hospital and The Heart Clinic held their second-annual Healthy Hearts 5K. The turnout was amazing with over 500 people from across the RGV lacing up their running shoes to show their support!

As part of this event, our Smoke-Free RGV team had a table where we were able to engage with participants, talk with them about the devastating impact of secondhand smoke, and ask them if they would sign our petition cards & take a picture with our “100% smoke-free community” sign (check out our photo album from the event) to express their support for their community passing a 100% smoke-free ordinance. 

STORIES OF SUPPORT:

The support from the community was overwhelming! One woman told me that she doesn’t like to go out to bars with her friends and co-workers because the secondhand smoke always upsets her breathing and sinuses.  She said she would love to be able to go out and not smell like smoke and feel bad when she got home.  We agree.

My favorite conversation was with a man who, when I told him what we were doing at the event, told me he was a smoker.  He then turned to his wife and said with a chuckle, “They want me to sign a petition to make our city smoke-free.” She nodded her head and rolled her eyes a little. 

But then a surprising thing happened.  He turned to me and said, “You know what.  I’ll sign your petition.”  He went on to say that although he was a smoker, other people who are having a meal or having a few drinks should not have to breathe in his secondhand smoke.  “I think it’s reasonable for us smokers to just go outside to smoke.  I don’t see the problem with that.”

This gentleman and the hundreds of other people who showed their support by signing petition cards and taking pictures, made my day and reaffirmed to me that communities across the Rio Grande Valley and the entire State of Texas want to live and work in comprehensive 100% smoke-free cities.  As one woman I met put it, “It really is just common sense.” 

If you support your community going smoke-free, click here to sign the petition!  Together we will make the Rio Grande Valley a healthier place to live, work, and raise a family.

 

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Meet Dr. Jennifer Redmond Knight

"Since I was a young girl, I have been concerned with the dangers of secondhand smoke.  As a life-long asthma sufferer, I personally knew how harmful secondhand smoke was to my health and when I discovered the dangers for all people, I became a passionate advocate.  In 2002, while working on my Master of Public Health degree, I had the opportunity to join the Lexington-Fayette County Kentucky smoke-free campaign.  I remember testifying to the city council, writing letters to the editor and educating all those who would listen about the dangers of secondhand smoke.  In 2009, I was asked to be part of the Smoke-free Kentucky Leadership team focused on promoting a comprehensive state-wide policy.  I served in this capacity until 2013 when I moved to Little Rock, AR.  I am a native of Batesville, AR and one of the things I asked frequently upon coming back to Arkansas was "when are we going to strengthen our current smoke-free law to become comprehensive?"  I am honored to currently be serving as chair of the SmokeFree Little Rock Campaign and look forward to the day when all people who live, work and play in Little Rock and every other community in Arkansas, Kentucky, the United States and the world are protected from the dangers of secondhand smoke! "

Dr. Jennifer Redmond Knight lives in Little Rock and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, where she serves as a Co-Investigator for the Kentucky Cancer Consortium, Co-Principal Investigator for a new Lung Cancer Prevention and Early Detection project; and Co-Investigator for an NCI grant focused on an HPV vaccination environmental scan. She is also a facilitator/strategic planner for the Kentucky Department for Public Health’s coordinated chronic disease prevention and health promotion efforts, and leads their cancer control leadership team. She facilitated regional forums and provided support in strategic planning for Kentucky’s Changing this Generation project. She also facilitated the development of the Texas Cancer Plan and Future Directions workgroups for the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas.

Her areas of expertise include partnership sustainability, program development, group facilitation, epidemiology, evaluation and policy, systems and environmental change efforts. Her current focus areas relate to the Affordable Care Act and Cancer & Lung Cancer Prevention and Early Detection.
Dr. Knight has her BA in Communications from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, MPH in Epidemiology from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and DrPH in Health Services Management from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

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McAllen Goes Red, Help Them Go Smoke-Free

On January 25th, the McAllen City Commission proclaimed February 5th, 2016 as “National Wear Red Day” at their City Commission meeting. The proclamation was read and presented by City Commissioner Trey Pebley and AHA volunteer, Mario Reyna from the McAllen ISD, accepted the proclamation on behalf of AHA.

McAllen went red, but we also need them to go smoke-free! While heart disease is the #1 killer of women, 80% of deaths related to heart disease can be prevented with lifestyle changes. During the presentation, AHA Senior Local Policy Manager Jerry Saavedra spoke specifically about the connection between exposure to secondhand smoke and heart disease. Secondhand tobacco smoke contributes to approximately 34,000 premature heart disease deaths every year. In addition, studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25-30 percent higher among people exposed to environmental tobacco smoke at home or work

We know a smoke-free ordinance would dramatically improve the heart health McAllen residents and workers, but we need your help to make it happen! If you want to get involved with smoke-free efforts in McAllen, email Jerry Saavedra (Jerry.Saavedra@heart.org)

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Seven Months, Seven Cities

368,751. That’s how many Texans can breathe easier this year.

In the past 7 months, 7 cities in Texas have made a big step towards improving the heart health of their citizens. The cities of Sherman, Waco, DeSoto, Port Lavaca, Edinburg, Red Oak, and Duncanville have all passed smoke-free ordinances that will protect workers and residents from toxic and life-threatening secondhand smoke exposure. These ordinances will lead to a decreased number of heart attacks, asthma attacks, strokes and hospitalizations in these cities, and ultimately they will save the lives of many Texans.

This is a movement that has spread across Texas, but we didn’t do this alone. Each of these victories toward a healthier Texas could never have happened without the support, dedication, and passion of our volunteers all across the state. Their commitment to the health of their communities was a powerful force that pushed these ordinances forward!

While we celebrate these seven cities for their decision to protect the health of their workers and residents, we know the fight continues. We hope you'll continue to stand beside us as we seek to make more cities across Texas smoke-free! To find out how you can be a part of this movement in your city please contact Samantha Bender (Samantha.Bender@heart.org).


(Volunteers and staff in Edinburg, TX)

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Houston Advocates are Part of the Puzzle!

On Saturday, January 23, twenty-five inspiring You’re the Cure volunteers from the Houston area gathered for the Houston Advocate Summit!

Some volunteers were new to You’re the Cure, while others had a long history of volunteering with the State Advocacy Committee or Grassroots Action Team. All came together to discover how they were “Part of the Puzzle,” learning from volunteer leaders and staff about AHA’s Texas policy priorities, especially smoke-free and obesity prevention, before touring You’re the Cure and learning about online and offline actions and how to climb the advocate ranks. Veteran volunteers shared lessons about engaging with lawmakers, and everyone practiced answering tricky questions about grocery access by sticking to their “why.” In fact, the volunteers’ stories were central to the whole event, and this tone was set by the first activity of the day, a “Life is Why” icebreaker during which advocates decorated puzzle pieces with their “whys” and shared their stories. Together their pieces created one heart!

State Advocacy Committee member Dr. Sheryl Green and Grassroots Action Team members Carolyn Jackson, Courtney White, and TaShon Thomas were joined by Sandy Adams, Shaun Babineaux, Craig Bauer, LaShonda Cameron, Cassandra Harris, Jaleh Keshtkari, Naghmeh Azghandi, Lorena Levy, Deborah Meek, Anna Musslewhite, Yissela Ortega, Bianca Ortega, Brittni Paez, Judy Patel, Kadisha Rapp, Linda Romer, Susan Smith, Cheryl Solomon, Ashley Spiller, Leslie Stratta, and Emily Tapp. This event would not have been possible without the leadership of Kaitlyn Murphy, Texas Senior Government Relations Director, Alix Angelelli, ANCHOR Regional Campaign Manager, and Apiyo Obala, Communications Director.

The You're the Cure community is all about giving you, our advocates, the tools you need to raise your voice to fight heart disease and stroke in your communities. The Houston Advocate Summit was a great opportunity for us to do so, and to get to know you better too! Stay tuned for more of these Summits in Texas, and RSVP for the Austin Advocate Summit coming up on January 30!

Put your Why into action! Reach out to Vanessa Fuentes (Vanessa.Fuentes@heart.org) or Victoria Nelson (Victoria.Nelson@heart.org) to learn of upcoming You're the Cure opportunities in Texas.

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New Year. New Ideas. New Location.

Resolve to join us as we work together to create a healthier community for all! The SmokeFree Little Rock Coalition meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, January 14th from 5:15-6:30 p.m. at Vino’s in Little Rock. You can find more information and RSVP at the following link: http://p2a.co/iTC5nGC.

If you have questions regarding the coalition or upcoming meeting please feel free to contact Matt Henry at matt.henry@heart.org or 501-954-6581.

Join the conversation to create a healthier community today! #SmokeFreeLR

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A New Year's Resolution for North Texas

By: Steve Love, CEO & President of the Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council

It’s that time of year when we begin planning our New Year’s resolutions.  There is one that North Texas could adopt that would save lives and improve the health of everyone, especially our children.  It would advance our population health and reduce cardiovascular disease, lung cancer, SIDS and other respiratory disorders.

Before you imagine treadmills, jogging and other forms of exercise coupled with proper diet (all good activities) it does not require any personal physical commitment.  It does not include any debate regarding the Affordable Care Act, sequestration or balancing the budget. This year, let’s resolve to make all of North Texas smoke free!

There are many North Texas cities and communities that adopted this resolution over the past ten years.  In fact, we thank the leadership of Denton and DeSoto for joining this healthy initiative in 2015.  In addition, the City of Red Oak recently voted 5-0 to adopt a comprehensive Smoke-Free ordinance that covers all indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants. With the adoption of this ordinance, Red Oak becomes the 3rd city in Ennis County to have a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, joining Waxahachie & Ennis as the 100% smoke free cities in this county. 

However, we have many North Texas municipalities that need to adopt this New Year’s Resolution in 2016, and we challenge them to help improve the health of their communities. Without this ordinance, employees and patrons of establishments such as sports bars and restaurants are exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke.  Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals and many are toxic and cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.  Approximately 43,000 Americans die from exposure to secondhand smoke, annually.  The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) states that the only means of effectively eliminating health risks associated with indoor exposure is to ban smoking activity.  In other words, ventilation technology does not protect people from secondhand smoke as there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke. We thank the leadership of our North Texas cities for their public service and conscientious efforts in improving their communities.  If your city or municipality has not adopted a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance, please do so in 2016.  It is the right thing to do for the health of your citizens.

Happy Holidays and let’s make all of North Texas smoke-free in 2016!

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Edinburg Becomes the First City in Hidalgo County to go Smoke-Free!

We did it! On November 17th the Edinburg City Council voted unanimously to pass a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance. We are incredibly thankful for all the You're the Cure advocates and smoke-free supporters who sent emails, made calls, and attended the public hearings.


Once this ordinance goes into effect, Edinurg residents and visitors will be able to enjoy their favorite places without harmful health effects from exposure to secondhand smoke. Restaurant and bar workers will also be able to breathe easier since their lungs aren’t being filled by toxic smoke throughout their workday.

We would not have been successful in making this happen without the support and dedication of You're the Cure volunteers who were dedicated to making Edinburg a healthier place to live and work.

Margaret Mead once said "Never doubt that a group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

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