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PHONE BLITZ

IT'S TIME TO STOP VAPING IN WORKPLACES!  Time is running out in Albany to close the ecig loophole – yes, electronic cigarettes are allowed where smoking is prohibited! We are working to close this loophole…with just 2 legislative session days left, we need your help!  PHONE BLITZ TO ASSEMBLY AND SENATE LEADERS TODAY!! 

Leaving a message is easy…we do it all the time.  Simply call the numbers below and leave this message:

As a New York State resident, I urge you to pass legislation to include e-cigarettes in the Clean Indoor Air Act.

Senate Majority Leader Flanagan (518) 455-2071

Assembly Speaker Heastie (518) 455-3791

After you leave your message, just send a quick e-mail saying "done"  to julianne.hart@heart.org.

 When calling, you will likely just be asked for your name and hometown.  If you would like, here are other talking points:

  • Bill number is S2202 (FOR THE SENATE) and A5955 (FOR THE ASSEMBLY)
  • 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.
  • What do we know about e-cigarettes?  That's the problem - we don't know enough. 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.

Let's close the e-cigarette loophole!  Thanks everyone!

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Youth Nicotine Exposure Heath Advisory Released by MDH

The Minnesota Department of Health released a health advisory this week on the rise of nicotine poisoning in children, check it out below:

The Minnesota Poison Control System saw a 35 percent jump in e-cigarette and e-juice poisonings among children from birth to 5 years old between 2013 and 2014. This marks the second year of significant increases in nicotine poisonings related to e-cigarette products, which can contain fatal levels of nicotine for children.
Today, the Minnesota Department of Health issued a nicotine heath advisory to inform parents about the health dangers of accidental nicotine poisonings and the harms that can result from ongoing nicotine use among teens and among pregnant women. 
“Many people think nicotine is addictive but not necessarily harmful on its own for teens and young adults, and that is not the case,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger. “We know there are clear health risks of nicotine exposure for youth.”
The nicotine health advisory is based on a summary of the latest research on the health risks of nicotine. The advisory reports that nicotine may harm brain development during adolescence. Pregnant women should also be concerned due to evidence that nicotine can harm fetal brain and lung development. 
The teen years are a critical time for brain growth and development. As a result, adolescents are especially at risk from the harms caused by nicotine exposure. Evidence suggests that exposure to nicotine during adolescence may have long-term effects on brain development. Animal research has found that nicotine exposure in adolescence causes long-lasting changes in brain development. This could have negative implications for human adolescent learning, memory, attention, behavioral problems and future addiction.
The MDH nicotine health advisory reports that symptoms of nicotine poisoning may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and/or difficulty breathing. A fatal dose of nicotine for an adult is between 50 to 60 milligrams, and a fatal dose for children is expected to be less. E-juice containers may have varying amounts of nicotine, from zero milligrams up to 34 milligrams or higher.
Until recently, people were exposed to nicotine primarily by smoking tobacco in cigarettes and cigars. However, new and flavored tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, are becoming increasingly popular. In 2014 results from the Minnesota Youth Tobacco Survey showed many teens use e-cigarettes; nearly 13 percent of high school students have used or tried them in the past 30 days.
These products can contain fatal levels of nicotine for children, who may mistake the e-juice for candy or a drink. Poisonings have jumped from three in 2012 to 62 in 2014. About half of the 2014 cases were treated by health care professionals at emergency departments. Poisonings include calls where unattended e-cigarette liquids were swallowed, inhaled, absorbed through the skin or came in contact with the eyes.
Beginning January 2015, a new Minnesota law took effect that requires e-juice to be sold in child-resistant packaging.
“This past year Minnesota took a big step to keep kids from accidently ingesting these potentially fatal e-liquids,” said Commissioner Ehlinger. “But parents should still use caution and store the products out of the reach of children.”
The Minnesota Poison Control System provides emergency poison medical management and poison prevention information to Minnesotans. The poison center is located at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and is nationally accredited by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Anyone with a poison-related question should call 1-800-222-1222.
Service is available free of charge 24 hours a day, and is confidential.
For more information, visit Health Risks of Nicotine for Youth.
-MDH-

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In Case You Missed It: Tobacco Tax Passes NV Legislature

In case you missed it: Senate Bill 483 passed the Nevada Legislature on June 1st, which will raise the price of cigarettes to $1.80 per pack.  Thanks to the actions of advocates like yourself, SB 483 received overwhelming bi-partisan support, and passed out of the Nevada Legislature in record time! 

The passage of this bill is a truly historic achievement!

When enacted on July 1, 2015, SB 483 will have a significant impact on smoking rates especially among youth, including keeping an estimated 10,000 youth from becoming smokers and helping more than 15,000 current smokers quit.

The latest projections also show that SB 483 can generate approximately $96 million per year ($192 million over the next biennium) which is essential to fund budget priorities such as K-12 education and health care programs.  We simply cannot overstate the historical impact this bill will have on Nevada.

Thank you for your continued support. You are the Cure!

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Join us as we rev up F. A. S. T!

With strokes affecting thousands of Americans every day, we’d like to invite you to join us as we rev up awareness about this medical condition. To help with that, today we’d like to share some startling statistics with you:

· 2,150 Americans die each day from Stroke and Heart disease.
· About one person dies from stroke every 40 seconds
· Stroke is the No. 5 killer of all Americans
· Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability among Americans

We’d also like to invite you to watch an exciting video about F.A.S.T. - and ask you to also win the gold by sharing the link with at least 10 of your friends. Whether through Twitter or Facebook, emails or instant messages – this video has some great information about the campaign, and we hope you’ll race our other advocates in spreading the word.

We’d like to spread the word about F.A.S.T. with at least 2,150 Americans across the country, and we sincerely appreciate your help in getting us to the finish line!

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AHA supported bills await Governor Ige's signiture

Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director

In what has been a very productive State Legislative Session in Hawaii, three American Heart Association priority bills have passed and are awaiting Governor Ige’s signature.

House Bill 467 would require all Hawaii birthing centers to screen newborns for critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs) using a tool called pulse oximetry. CCHDs are the most common birth defects in the U.S. and the leading killer of infants with birth defects.

An estimated 300 infants with an unrecognized CCHD are discharged each year from newborn nurseries in the United States. These babies are at risk for having serious problems within the first few days or weeks of life and often require emergency care. Pulse oximetry, is a non-invasive, inexpensive test that consists of sensors placed on a baby's hand and/or foot to check blood oxygen levels.  The screening can identify some infants with a CCHD before they show any signs. Once identified, babies with a CCHD can be seen by cardiologists and can receive specialized care and treatment that could prevent death or disability early in life.

House Bill 589 would establish a state stroke registry and require all acute stroke care hospitals to collect and submit stroke data to the State Department of Health (DOH). The DOH would then compile and share reports based on the data with the state’s Stroke Coalition, which includes representatives from acute stroke care hospitals, EMS agencies, the DOH and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The Coalition members would use the data to identify weaknesses in Hawaii’s stroke system of care and work to improve it with the goal of speeding patient access to the best available care and improving long-term health outcomes.

Senate Bill 1030 would raise the legal age to purchase and possess tobacco products to 21. Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people each year.  It is known to cause heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory diseases, among other health disorders, and costs the U.S. $96 billion in health care expenditures each year. Nearly 1,000 kids under the age of 18 become regular, daily smokers each day; and almost one-third will die from it.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report on March 12 bolstering this policy in which it found “increasing the minimum legal age for tobacco products will likely prevent or delay initiation of tobacco use by adolescents and young adults. The age group most impacted will be those age 15 to 17 years.” Raising the minimum legal age to 21 will mean that those who can legally obtain tobacco are less likely to be in the same social networks as high school students.

It is anticipated that Governor Ige will sign all three bills, and he has already signed into law another bill supported by the AHA which adds electronic smoking devices (e-cigarettes) to Hawaii’s existing smoke-free air law. Please join us by calling Governor Ige’s office at 586-0034 to thank him for supporting these measures and helping improve health in Hawaii.

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It's a Wrap! A Summary of the 2015 Vermont Legislative Session

This legislative session proved to be one of the most exciting and frustrating. I am incredibly proud of the hard work of AHA volunteers in trying to pass the first in the nation excess tax on sugary drinks to reduce obesity. We made great progress.

Preventing Obesity: Though our effort to pass a 2 cent per ounce excise tax on sugary drinks didn’t become a reality this year, this was the best campaign I have ever been a part of and our volunteer effort was simply amazing. There is no doubt this tax will become a reality in the near future. Until then, we need to keep up the chant to fight obesity and the impact of sugary drinks.

Sugary drink tax: We made history by becoming the first state to pass a sugary drink excise tax through two legislative committees.  Recognizing the importance of addressing obesity in Vermont, the House Health Care Committee passed a two cent per ounce excise tax early in the session as a way to fund important health care priorities.  The House Ways and Means Committee later passed a scaled down excise tax of ½ a cent per ounce. Though it was much less than what we hoped for, it is a real testament to the work of our Alliance and volunteers that the committee did, in fact, pass any SSB excise tax. We had hoped to move the issue through the House and bump up the tax amount in the Senate or a committee of conference so it would have a real impact on obesity in Vermont. However, with fatigue in the House setting in following battles over two other revenue bills, and a somewhat uncertain Senate, no vote was ever held in the House on the sugary drink excise tax. Lawmakers instead, chose to substitute the sugary drink excise tax with a small increase in the tobacco tax as a way to fund health care priorities. Volunteers should be very proud, though, that we kept the issue alive and constantly in the media and legislative discussions up through April. That’s pretty amazing. Thank you all for your help!

Vermont Public Radio also recently published a short summary of the SSB tax effort that you can access here. http://digital.vpr.net/post/issue-issue-2015-legislative-wrap#beverage  

Sales tax on soft drinks: The legislature this year extended the sales tax to soft drinks as part of its revenue bill. This will mean beverages that are sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners, including beverages with less than 50% real fruit juice, but not milk, will be taxed.

This is not the sugary drink tax we championed.Since it is a minimal tax that is only seen on the receipt after the sale (versus a significant tax per ounce of beverage where the price is seen on the shelf) it won’t change behavior. AHA board member Dr. Mary Cushman recently published an opinion piece in VT Digger discussed this importance difference and the fact that the legislature has now put Big Beverage before Vermonters twice. See below.

Big Beverage 2, Vermonters – 0 http://vtdigger.org/2015/05/20/mary-cushman-beverage-industry-2-vermonters-0/?utm_source=VTDigger+Subscribers+and+Donors&utm_campaign=3f382fa80a-Weekly+Update&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_dc3c5486db-3f382fa80a-405514605

No tax on bottled water: Though a sales tax on bottled water was originally included as part of a revenue package proposed by the Senate Finance Committee, we testified against the tax stating Vermont should not allow any barrier whether it be real or perceived to make water more costly, and the tax was removed.

Obesity prevention spending:  As noted in Dr. Cushman’s piece above, lawmakers this year actually took a step backwards in the fight against obesity by failing to restore the Governor’s $300,000 cut to CHAMPPS obesity prevention grants to communities.

Positive obesity steps: The House did pass an amendment that would have required the Health Care Reform Oversight Committee to study the impact of obesity in Vermont, especially on health care expenditures, and policy efforts the legislature could take to address obesity. Though the study requirement passed the House as part of the health care funding bill, the language was removed in the Senate.  House Health Care Committee members tried to get the study reinserted in the bill during the conference committee, but without success. 

During the debate, however, Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chair Claire Ayer said she would make obesity the first priority of her committee next session.   

Tobacco Prevention: We were successful in saving tobacco control program funding but the increase in the tobacco tax fell short.

Tobacco program funding: Though the Governor had recommended cutting $199,000 from Vermont’s Tobacco Control Program including funding for the independent Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board, its administrator and evaluation efforts, we, along with our partners in the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Vermont worked to get legislators to restore $175,000 to keep the board independent, retain its administrator and fund evaluation efforts.

Tobacco tax: Though a significant increase in Vermont’s tobacco tax was raised a few times this session, even going as high as a $2 increase at one point in the House and Senate champions working to get a $1 increase in the Senate, the final tax that was passed fell below the 10% increase in the total pack price that is needed to have a public health impact.

Lawmakers passed a $0.33 tobacco tax as the sole revenue source to raise the $3.2 million for the health care funding bill.  With a pack of cigarettes currently selling on average for $8.10 a pack, the tax would have needed to be around $0.81 to have a positive health impact – urging smokers to quit and to prevent youth from ever starting.

E-cigarettes: During the debate on S.139, the health care bill, that House passed language that would have instituted a tax on e-cigarettes the equivalent to half of that currently imposed on cigarettes, and included a ban on the use of e-cigs in workplaces, public places and cars, the Senate removed the language. This is an issue of increased interest to lawmakers since the use of these products by middle school students has tripled.

Health Care Reform/Health Access: Though the health care bill ultimately passed by the legislature was significantly whittled down it did include positive provisions: 

  • The continuation of $760,000 in cost-sharing subsidies for low-income Vermonters.
  • $940,000 to help stabilize Medicaid reimbursements to health care providers
  • $1 million earmarked for the state's Blueprint for Health managed care system.
  • $300,000 in educational loan repayments for physicians, the cost of which is split between state and federal sources.
  • The bill also added three new positions to the Green Mountain Care Board to start setting rates for health care providers and pursuing an all-payer model. 

Charitable donations: Though a cap on charitable contributions was included in an earlier version of the revenue bill, the cap ultimately was removed.  The final bill limited limited the amount filers can deduct when filing their income taxes to $15,000 for an individual and $31,500 for a household and charitable contributions and health care expenses are exempt from the cap.

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Will you advocate for stroke victims?

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association will be holding our first ever Stroke Awareness Advocacy Day in Albany on May 27th to raise awareness of stroke.  ASA will set-up meetings and provide a training for all.  Participants will then meet with lawmakers and staff to discuss:

  • Stroke Incidence and Mortality
  • Stroke Disparities
  • Stroke Warning Signs and Treatment                   

If you would like to attend, register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T6GGPZX

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New Leadership in Albany

This week we saw a major shift in leadership at the state's Capitol. Senator Dean Skelos stepped down as New York State Senate Majority Leader amidst rising pressure from lawmakers and good government groups.

New York State Senator John Flanagan was selected by his colleagues as the new Senate Majority Leader.  Senator Flanagan was first elected to represent part of Suffolk County in 2002.  Prior to serving in the Senate, he served for 16 years in the New York State Assembly.  The American Heart Association worked closely with Senator Flanagan in our efforts to get students trained in CPR prior to graduation.  And we look forward to working with him to combat heart disease and stroke, the state's No. 1 and No. 5 killer of New Yorkers.

Please join us in welcoming Senator Flanagan to his new position and ask him to help in the fight against heart disease and stroke by clicking below:

http://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/composeletters.aspx?AlertID=36732

 

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#StepUp4HeartHealth

Hundreds of You’re the Cure advocates are in Washington, D.C. today!   And we have a great group of NYers making the trip!  So what's everyone talking about?

Advocates will be telling lawmakers to support healthy school meals - Kids don't need junk food in schools. 

And we'll also be fighting for funding for medical research - it has the power to save lives.

You can help our advocates gathered in Washington, D.C. today in delivering a strong message to Congress – we can’t afford cuts to National Institutes of Health research. Take action here: http://p2a.co/9aEU5aY

Lets all #StepUp4HeartHealth

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A Winning Game for School Lunches and Research Funding!

At You’re the Cure on the Hill 2015, more than 380 AHA advocates and staff from all 50 states, plus DC —and thousands more back home—stepped up to the plate for healthy school lunches and medical research funding. This year, our Hill day theme was built off the great American game of baseball, something that could resonate with advocates and lawmakers alike and give them a rallying cry for the event: Step Up to the Plate! It was an invitation from advocates to lawmakers, asking them to get off the bench and into the game. And they knocked it out of the park.

It was one of our most exciting days on the Hill with a combination of passionate advocates meeting face-to-face with their lawmakers and thousands of supportive voices from around the country who backed them up with phone calls, emails, tweets and Facebook posts. Together, our voices hit a home run for healthy school meals and heart and stroke research funding.

Advocates conducted 293 meetings with lawmakers, asking them to protect the progress made by the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act and support school nutrition standards. At the same time, advocates asked lawmakers to make heart disease and stroke research a national priority by increasing the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

Meanwhile, advocates back home around the country jumped in as pinch hitters to call and email their members of Congress and ask them to Step Up to the Plate. Capitol Hill received over 6,218 messages from constituents back home.

Throughout the day, we had so many all-star advocates who made the views, passions and needs of constituents known to their lawmakers in new and compelling ways. On top of that, we had two Congressional Award Winners who rounded out the team: Sen. Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Mikulski (D-MD). They received the American Heart Association’s National Public Service Award, which has been granted biennially since 1982 to members of Congress who have actively promoted our mission. We are so thrilled to have their support!

Below is a snapshot of our day!

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