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February was a Busy Month

Guest Blogger: Erin Bennett, Idaho Government Relations Director

February was a busy month for the Idaho AHA, with the first annual Go Red Week taking place. February 3-7, 2015 had the AHA team, volunteers and community partners teaching hands-only CPR across the Treasure Valley and we now have over 2,000 new trained lifesavers. We also had a successful Stroke Education workshop for health care professionals and several wonderful opportunities to spotlight our amazing volunteers, survivors and sponsors.

We’ve also been busy in the Legislature, working with the Time Sensitive Emergency Council on creating rules and standards for approval. The Time Sensitive Emergency Council was formed in 2014 to create a more comprehensive system of care dealing with medical emergencies where time to treatment is critical, specifically trauma, stroke and heart attacks. The rules and standards for trauma have been approved by both the House and Senate Health and Welfare Committees.

In 2015 we’ll continue to work with the Council to develop the standards for Stroke and STEMI (ST segment elevation myocardial infarction, a particular type of heart attack that affects a large area of the heart muscle). These rules will be amended to include the standards for STEMI and Stroke designation criteria after the Legislature adjourns for the session. These designation standards will help improve the health care system statewide by improving the coordination between emergency responders, hospitals and other health care elements critical during an emergency.

We’ve also seen the recommendation for tobacco and substance abuse prevention and cessation funding from the Joint Legislative Millennium Fund Committee, with 18 programs receiving requested funding, and over $5 million going specifically toward tobacco cessation and abuse prevention. This represents an increase over previous years funding by over 25% toward the CDC recommended funding goals.

We have many other activities in progress and will continue to reach out to our volunteers and supporters as we move forward, working to improve heart health, decrease risk factors, and prevent heart disease and stroke.

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Update on the Legislative Session

Guest Blogger: Marc Watterson, Utah Government Relations Director

We are in the final stretch of the Utah State Legislative Session and things really look to be heating up! What will be the final fate SB 164 “Healthy Utah”? Are e-cigarettes finally going to be treated like all other tobacco products?

While we won’t know the answers to these questions until next week, I’d like to take a step back and congratulate our many volunteers for their efforts at our recent “Heart on the Hill” Lobby Day!

My sincerest thanks to all those that were able to attend and to IASIS Healthcare for their sponsorship! This year IASIS provided health screenings to legislators and the public as well as lunch for our volunteers and the legislature. During our training session our volunteers had an opportunity to hear from a diverse range of speakers who are local experts in their related fields including:

  • Dave Gessel from the Utah Hospitals Association who shared his emotional story of witnessing his own mother suffer a stroke. Dave was fortunate to be in a position to recognize her symptoms and get her to the hospital in time. Our thanks to the UHA for their ongoing efforts to ensure that stroke treatment in Utah continues to be the very best. We look forward to working with them and the Department of Health in the coming months to see that Acute Stroke Ready Hospitals receive state recognition.
  • Tim Best from Davis School District who taught us about their innovative approach with “Healthy Bodies – Healthy Minds.” This program enhances children’s learning as teachers utilize physical activity through their lessons. Results from pilot schools have shown an amazing increase in student health and test scores as well as improved student behavior and less absences!
  • Representative Raul Ray joined us to discuss his tie to the American Heart Association. He was born with severe congenital heart defects. He also explained his fight against tobacco use in our youth and his efforts this year to ensure that e-cigarettes stay out of schools and are treated as other tobacco products.
  • Professor Chaney and some of his BYU Students presented on their work on Safe Routes to School. They have been working with a number of elementary schools throughout Utah County to identify problematic areas around schools that might put children at risk as they travel to and from school. You can follow their social media efforts by following #SafeRoutesUT. Special thanks to Benji Lambson, Kaylee Banner, Danny Doria, Maranda Christiansen, Kelsey Hamstead, Rachel Harris, Josinah Gachia for their efforts.
  • Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox joined us to present on the Governor’s “Healthy Utah” plan. He spoke with our volunteers about the importance of engaging our legislators and letting them know how we feel about this issue as their constituents. In light of recent actions by the State House of Representatives in voting down the "Healthy Utah 2.0" plan passed by the State Senate, this truly underscores the need for all of us to get involved! For more on how you can help with this effort, please visit our You’re the Cure Action Page.
  • Dr. Ben Schmidt is an Emergency Physician from IASIS Health Care’s Salt Lake Regional Hospital. He shared first-hand accounts of individuals performing CPR and the success that comes from bystanders administering it right away. This work truly saves lives and underscores the importance of our efforts to help all people learn CPR.
  • We recognized Linda Mayne and Cybil Prideaux as our Volunteers of the Year for 2015. Linda and Cybil both work for the Utah State Office of Education and have been very instrumental in the success of rolling out our CPR in Schools efforts! Please reach out to your local High School to make sure they are participating in this core curriculum training.
  • Lastly, Speaker Greg Hughes joined us to share some of his best tips on how to be effective citizen lobbyists. His number one takeaway was the importance of developing relationships with our legislators - and not just during the legislative session.

My thanks again for all who were able to attend! Thank you all for your efforts to drive our life-saving mission forward.

*Note: This was submitted before the end of the legislative session. Check back next month for a full review of the final status on these and other issues.

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Legislative Session Update

Guest Blogger: Lindsay Hovind, Washington Government Relations Director

The 2015 legislative session has gotten off to a great start for two of the American Heart Association / American Stroke Association’s biggest priorities: heart screening for newborns and Safe Routes to School.  

We were excited to see Representative Marcus Riccelli introduce House Bill 1285 which would ensure every newborn in Washington is screening for critical congenital heart defects (CCHD) using pulse oximetry. As you’ve been hearing from us, this is a top priority for AHA in Washington. On January 30 the bill was heard in the House Health Care & Wellness Committee. Volunteer Amy Norton (pictured at left) joined me on the Hill to testify about her son Spencer’s remarkable CCHD story. A week later the bill passed out of the committee unanimously. This exciting progress, coupled with Amy’s compelling testimony, garnered some terrific media attention. You can view the Q13 FOX story here. Last week the bill passed unanimously out of the House, now it’s on to the Senate!

Also of note, our campaign to increase funding for Safe Routes to School has been gaining momentum. You’ll recall a fantastic group of youth advocates from Eastlake High School in Sammamish traveled to Olympia for AHA’s lobby day where they rallied outside with signs to raise awareness of this important program.  Safe Routes to School gets kids and communities active, setting them on the path to a healthy lifestyle. (Check out this shout out in the Sammamish local paper.)

At this point in the session, the Senate has passed a transportation revenue package; some of the revenue would go to sustain the recent investments in Safe Routes to School. We are so pleased to see this program included, though we’re working hard to increase the investment so we can fully fund the need in our state.

Thank you for your continued interest and support of our advocacy work in Washington. There is still much work to do but it is encouraging to see legislators recognize the value of good health.

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Honor the Legacy. Protect the Future.

When people are healthy, children do better in school, workers are more productive, families have more money in their wallets every month, and businesses can add jobs because their health costs are lower.

Why, then does Governor LePage recommend gutting Maine’s only state source of tobacco and obesity prevention funds? His proposal basically eliminates the Healthy Maine Partnerships and wipes out most of the state tobacco and obesity programs. It takes the minuscule amount of money (less than 1% of health care dollars) that we spend on prevention and adds it to the other 99%--to care for people once they are already sick. The real kicker is that the money he proposes taking comes from the lawsuit with the tobacco industry. We get that money to use to prevent kids from starting and helping smokers to quit. We need to honor that legacy.

As you may have heard in the news, doctors, public health providers, students and regular people from all over Maine descended on Augusta to show their opposition to the Governor’s plan to dismantle the Fund for a Healthy Maine and spend our limited and precious prevention dollars on primary care. Now, we at the American Heart Association completely support primary care, but when we spend less than 1% of our health care dollars on prevention, we need to keep that money used as intended. We were proud to stand with the Friends of the Fund for a Healthy Maine (I am in the front row) and remind legislators that if they cut the tobacco program we will see:

An increase in youth smoking rate of 6.8%,

3,660 more Maine kids growing up to become addicted adult smokers,

1,290 more kids growing up to die prematurely from smoking.

Everyone knows that the best way to improve health and lower costs for families is to prevent illness and addiction, not treat it after the fact. We need to tell our policymakers to reject the proposal to dismantle Maine’s public health system and defund efforts that help parents protect their kids from tobacco use. Keeping the Fund for a Healthy Maine working to prevent disease and promote good health is our best opportunity to support healthy families and reduce heart disease in the future. We need to protect the future.

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Seventy Percent of NC Voters Support Funding a Healthy Corner Store Initiative

On February 24, the NC Alliance for Health (North Carolina’s statewide coalition working on obesity and tobacco use prevention) released a statewide survey that shows that North Carolina registered voters (70 percent) support the creation of a Healthy Corner Store Initiative as a way of tackling the state’s childhood obesity epidemic. Additionally, a similar majority says that state and local governments should provide training and incentives to encourage neighborhood stores, where people often shop for groceries, to stock healthy foods.

"According to this poll, North Carolinians view unhealthy eating and childhood obesity as the most serious problems facing children in the United States, above physical activity, quality of education, and children not spending enough time outdoors," said Sarah Jacobson, Healthy Food Access Coordinator for the North Carolina Alliance for Health (NCAH) and You’re the Cure advocate. "This clearly demonstrates that it is time to stop talking about this issue and start doing something about it," she said.

"Programs such as a Healthy Corner Store Initiative and Healthy Food Financing improve availability, affordability and accessibility of healthy foods at food retailers within areas of poor food access. This approach would not only remove a barrier to healthy eating, but also create new business opportunities. If the focus also includes healthy foods grown and/or produced in North Carolina, the state could realize a triple win in terms of health, economic growth and community revitalization," said Jacobson.

The poll also found:

· More than 90 percent of registered North Carolina voters recognize childhood obesity and unhealthy eating as a serious problem
· Seventy-six percent of registered North Carolina voters favor state and local governments providing training and incentives to encourage corner store owners to stock and sell more healthy foods and beverages
· One half (50 percent) of registered voters view access to grocery stores in low to moderate income areas in both urban and rural communities as a serious or somewhat serious problem
· The fact that healthy foods are not affordable was identified as the most significant barrier to improving access to healthy foods in both urban and rural areas
· Lack of nutritional education and poor economic conditions were identified as significant barriers to healthy eating

Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, certain kinds of cancer, obesity and diet-related diseases disproportionately impact communities without access to healthy foods. People living in such communities—known as food deserts—often shop for food at corner stores, which commonly sell highly processed foods that are high in fat and low in nutrients. In fact, youth who live near convenience stores have higher Body Mass Indices (BMIs) and consume more sugary drinks than their peers who live closer to full-service grocery stores. Additionally, one study published in Pediatrics showed that more than 40 percent of elementary school students shopped at a corner store twice daily, often purchasing chips, candy, and soda.

"I was particularly pleased that once those being polled learned more about the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, the support level jumped to 76 percent. This clearly shows North Carolinians are ready for action," said Jacobson.

The American Heart Association is working with the NC Alliance for Health to promote a healthy corner store statewide initiative.

For more information about the poll:

o Poll  Executive Summary

o Poll information packet

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Save Lives, Save Money Tobacco Prevention Day at the Capitol!

Mark your calendar, register, and make plans to join us at the Statehouse on April 29th for Save Lives, Save Money Tobacco Prevention Advocacy Day at the Capitol!

This Advocacy Day, we'll join coalition partners to support efforts to increase Ohio’s cigarette tax by $1 and match the Other Tobacco Products tax. Your dedication through the years helped create this opportunity, but we need to finish it. Click to learn more and register today!

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Cutting Funding for Tobacco Prevention is a Step Backwards

Despite the historic successes of Vermont’s tobacco control program, tobacco use is still the number one preventable cause of death and disease. While we’ve made great headway, there is more work that needs to be done and the program is at risk. 

The Governor’s proposed budget would cut nearly $245,000 this coming year, reducing funds to the health department and eliminating funding for the independent Tobacco Evaluation and Review Board. 

This cut in prevention funding will only move Vermont backwards in the state’s efforts to control skyrocketing healthcare costs. Vermont currently spends $348 million each year on tobacco-attributable health care expenses.

Tobacco use still claims the lives of 1,000 Vermonters annually.  400 children become new daily smokers each year and 10,000 Vermont children currently alive today will die prematurely from smoking. We have populations where smoking rates are high – over 20% of Vermont’s college-age youth smoke and smoking rates for those with low incomes or serious mental illness are at or above 30%.

Help us urge Vermont lawmakers and the Governor to maintain funding for the tobacco program to reduce these numbers and support a significant increase in the tobacco tax – proven measures that will reduce smoking in Vermont. Click the link below to take action today!

https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/actioncenter.aspx

 

 

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Diana Cook, North Carolina

Diana Cook, North Carolina

As a veteran volunteer with the American Heart Association, Diana Cook has been involved in a myriad of ways with the organization over the years. As a Charlotte Heart Walk team leader, she led her work team several years in a row – and every year provided countless volunteers to help with the walk. As a You’re the Cure Advocate, and as a NC Advocacy Coordinating Committee member, she has volunteered for countless National and State Lobby Days, trainings, and advocacy opportunities.

There is more to Diana than just her volunteerism. She has experience personal loss at the hands of cardiovascular disease and stroke. After losing her father to emphysema, then a dear friend who had just turned 40 passed away due to a sudden stroke two weeks later, she spent a long time of wondering why her friend’s symptoms had gone misdiagnosed. Diana connected with Betsy Vetter and found her passion with AHA and a home with You’re the Cure. As her work with YTC began, Diana was able to join the Smoke-Free Mecklenburg team as a co-chair, and worked with that initiative promoting smoke-free both locally and then at the state level. It was her friend, and her father, who kept Diana engaged with the American Heart Association and kept her inspired to make a difference.

If you were to ask Diana why she volunteers with the AHA, she would tell you that beginning with her Heart Walk experience and including her time as an advocate with You’re the Cure, her experience has become personal. "Advocacy was the "rescue," if you will, that I needed during a traumatic time after my Dad and best friend died," she says. "It helped me to put my energy into something positive that honored them at the same time.  The experience was effecting a positive change for our state of North Carolina to get smoke free restaurants passed and providing vital information to women on heart and stroke disease."

It is advocates like Diana, who join us in You’re the Cure and see what an infinite difference they make in the lives of those around them, that make our network as strong and as passionate as it is. Thank you to Diana, and to all of our advocates, for making a difference and saving lives.

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Join Us for PA Advocacy Day!

Make plans to join us on Monday, April 20th as we gather at the State Capitol in Harrisburg, PA to meet with lawmakers to talk about important public policies to help reverse the effects of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Advocates from across PA will meet with their legislators to advocate support for strengthening the Clean Indoor Air law to include NO exemptions and reducing smoking rates by increasing the tobacco excise tax. We'll give you the tools and the resources - all you have to do is show up! 

REGISTER HERE

We will host two half hour conference calls to allow all participants to learn the priority issues, logistics for the event, and tips on talking to legislators. There will be two call options – you need only attend one.  Dial-in information will be e-mailed to attendees.

Call Options:
Tuesday, April 14, 2015, 2015 at Noon
Thursday, April 16, 2015 at Noon

Schedule of Events

8:30-9:00am:            Registration  (Continental Breakfast available from 8-9am)
9:00-10:00am:          Issue Briefings
10:00-10:20am:        Press Conference (Main Rotunda)
10:20-10:30am:        Group Photo (Main Rotunda Steps)
10:30am-12:00pm:   Legislative Meetings (Member Offices)

Directions to the PA State Capitol

Downtown Harrisburg Parking (Walnut Street Garage is recommended for parking)

If you would like additional information or have questions, please contact:

Kim Ross at (717) 730-1706 or kim.ross@heart.org

David Greineder at (717) 730-1751 or david.greineder@heart.org

Melissa Brown at melissa.brown@heart.org 

 

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Imagine!

Christina Bryan, You’re the Cure advocate, recently shared some words of wisdom with us, "My parents, life-long chain smokers, died prematurely as a direct result of their smoking addiction.  As a heart attack survivor, I have never smoked and advise current smokers to quit immediately and non-smokers to never start.  Don't put yourself in harm's way."

On Wednesday, February 25 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our state’s smoke-free law. As advocates we are building a healthier world.

Yet cigarette smoking continues to be the leading preventable risk factor for chronic disease. Did you know that overall tobacco use among North Carolina high school students increased from 25.8% to 29.7% between 2011 and 2013? During that same time period, the use of electronic cigarettes by North Carolina high school students increased 352%, from 1.7% to 7.7%. These statistics are going in the wrong direction.

Now imagine having a generation of kids that don’t become addicted to tobacco.

Tell your lawmakers to support funding for tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.

In the last 50 years, 20 million Americans have died prematurely due to tobacco-caused illnesses. Currently North Carolina provides no state funding for tobacco use prevention and only $1.2 million for QuitlineNC.

We need your help to urge our lawmakers to fund tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs.

What do you IMAGINE for North Carolina’s tobacco-use prevention and cessation programs?

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