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You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day: Issues At A Glance

State Lobby Day is almost here!  These are the issues that we will be discussing with our lawmakers. 

We will have two asks this year, and have included talking points for each issue below.  We know that State Lobby Day this year will be as successful as all of our other years, and we cannot wait for our advocates to join us!

Ask One: Support HB 250/SB 296: Healthy Food Small Retailer/Corner Store Act with full funding

  • North Carolina has at least 349 food deserts across 80 counties, impacting over 1.5 million North Carolina residents in both rural and urban areas.
  • Communities without access to healthy foods are disproportionately impacted by diet-related diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.
  • Without easy access to healthy ingredients, families have a harder time meeting dietary guidelines for good health, such as eating fruits and vegetables and lowering fat intake.
  • North Carolinians across the state overwhelmingly support this effort: A recent poll found over 70% of registered voters support a state-funded Healthy Corner Store Initiative. After learning more information, support rose to 76%.
  • A healthy corner store initiative would: help make healthier food options more accessible, provide small business owners with marketing and technical assistance to stock and sell healthy foods, and create new markets for farmers and fisherman. 

Ask Two: Support increasing access to health care

  • Heart disease is the second and stroke the fourth leading cause of death in North Carolina.
  • Of adults (aged 18-64) who report having heart disease, hypertension or stroke, approximately 15% are uninsured.
  • Nearly half of the uninsured with cardiovascular disease cite cost as the reason they lack coverage; 36% cite a lost job or new employer.
  • The uninsured also report being unable to afford prescription drugs nearly four times more often than those who are insured (43% versus 11%).
  • Providing health insurance coverage will help people gain access to the care they need, which improves health outcomes.

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One Step Closer to Protecting Our Youth from Big Tobacco!

We’re almost half way there! Last week the Senate passed legislation to protect kids from the dangers of tobacco! This critical legislation would strengthen our tobacco laws and once again make Massachusetts a nationwide leader in tobacco prevention and control.  The bill, if passed, will:

  • Increase the statewide age of sale for tobacco from 18 to 21, including electronic cigarettes
  • Include e-cigarettes in the smoke-free workplace law
  • Prohibit the sale of tobacco products from any location which provides health care services, such as pharmacies
  • Require child-resistant packaging for e-cigarettes

 99% of all adult smokers report that they started smoking before the age of 25. Because most tobacco use starts in the high school years, 80% of youth smokers will become adult smokers and one-half of adult smokers will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases. Most teens who smoke and use tobacco report getting cigarettes and other products from their friends. We can help stop our kids from being exposed to tobacco by increasing the sales age from 18 to 21, which will limit high school and middle school youths’ access to addictive products from older teens. This bill has an opportunity to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction among youth, which will improve health, save lives, and reduce health care costs. 

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Winning the Fight Against E-Cigs in Vermont

Thanks to the hard work by many volunteers like you, the Governor will soon be signing legislation into law that would prevent e-cigarettes from being used any place smoking is currently prohibited in Vermont!

The Vermont House on April 26th, gave its approval to the changes made to the bill by the Senate. This was the last step needed before the Governor can sign the bill into law.  

This was a long process that was debated quite a bit this session. Our goal with the bill was to ensure social norms against smoking were not eroded, to protect Vermont kids as use of this unregulated protect is growing exponentially, and to ensure Vermont’s clean indoor air laws remain strong!

A special thanks to volunteer Jan Carney who was an invaluable resource during testimony on this issue, to the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility who reached out to the Senate Health and Welfare committee at a critical point and noted, “H.171 is a step toward a healthier future for Vermonters,” to the House Human Services Committee for giving the issue so much time before their committee and to senators’ impassioned statements on the floor such as the one by Senator *** McCormack who commented during an effort to roll back restrictions on smoking, “I think it’s important to fight for rights, but the right to smoke is not one of them.”

 

Great work everyone and thanks for your help!

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UPDATE: Tobacco 21 Moves Through Committees in Albany County, Goes to Full Vote!

On Wednesday, April 27, the Albany County Health Committee and the Audit & Finance Committee voted to move Local Law "C"  through to a vote with the full legislature on May 9. Local Law "C" would raise the purchase age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old. In addition to moving the bill through the committees, three new legislators also signed on in support of the bill which brings the number of legislative sponsors to 18.

Thank you to our volunteers in Albany County who made phone calls and sent emails to their legislators letting them know why raising the purchase age is so important. Check your email for additional action alerts as we get closer to the full vote!

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Albany County Legislature Holds Public Hearing on Tobacco 21!

Last night, the Albany County Legislature held a public hearing on raising the purchase age of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old.

Public Health advocates and community members came out in full force to discuss the reasons why raising the purchase age is so important. I was there beside my colleagues from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Lung Association and our friends with the Capital District Tobacco-Free Coalition.

Only three people spoke out against the measure, including the Convenient Store Association who suggests this will hurt small businesses and it won't actually help decrease the rate of smoking. We helped dispel these myths with statistics that show otherwise.

Overall, I think the meeting went well and I think we will have enough votes to pass it through the Health committee in the next month. Stay tuned!

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State Lobby Day: A Day to Remember

We are excited that you are joining us May 10th for the 2016 NC AHA You’re the Cure at the Capitol State Lobby Day.   To help you feel ready, we want to provide some important information about Lobby Day.

Lobby Day Schedule:

  • Registration check-in will open at 8:30 am at the Legislative Building Auditorium (link to map below). 
  • The training program will begin promptly at 9:00 am and conclude by 10:30 am so that you will be able to visit with your lawmakers. During the training we will go over the day’s events, our "asks" for the day, divide into your Lobby Day meeting groups, and have time to practice with your group. 
  • Lunch will be at the General Assembly Cafeteria in the Legislative Building. 
  • Rest area during the day is in the 1200 Court of the Legislative Building. Here you will find AHA staff, have a place to complete meeting evaluations, and take a break. 
  • All activities will conclude by 3:30 pm. 

What to wear and bring with you:

  • Visiting the legislature is an active day.  So wear comfortable shoes! 
  • Business attire is recommended, and we request that you wear something red. 
  • Also – don’t forget to check the weather – if it is supposed to rain, bring your umbrella! (Our event is rain or shine!)

Visiting the Legislature (Parking and Directions):

Staying in Raleigh:
If you prefer to come to Raleigh the evening before, here are some hotels in the downtown area that are convenient to the Legislature:

  • Marriot City Center: 500 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh NC 27601 - Phone: (919) 833-1120
  • Sheraton: 421 South Salisbury Street, Raleigh NC 27601 - Phone: (919) 834-9900
  • Holiday Inn (least expensive and closest to the Legislative Complex): 320 Hillsborough St, Raleigh, NC 27603 - Phone: (919) 832-0501

We know that was a lot of information to digest!  That is why we will wait until next week to send out information about the issues we will be talking with our legislators about.  When that information is up, you will be able to read about it by checking back with us on this post.

If you have questions about the logistical information, please contact Kacie Kennedy for more information.

 

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Governor Haley Signs Lifesaving Hands-On CPR in Schools Bill into Law

Governor Nikki Haley signed House Bill 3265 into law on Thursday, April 21, requiring all South Carolina students to learn hands-on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This essential life skill will be incorporated into the already required high school health education curriculum and will ultimately benefit countless families by increasing the number of people with CPR proficiency.  Far too many people die suddenly from cardiac arrest who might have been saved if only those around them were trained to administer CPR.

Coleman Maness, a young, sudden cardiac arrest survivor and American Heart Association volunteer shared his thoughts. "We have been working so hard on this legislation for the past four years, and it is great to finally see the result of our hard work today. My life was saved by Bailey Barnes who performed bystander CPR, and this bill will ensure that other cardiac arrest victims will have a greater chance at survival." Coleman’s story of survival motivated a close friend, at the time a high school student, Sally Sheppard, to take action by working with a local legislator to have CPR in Schools legislation introduced during the 2012 session.

House Bill 3265 was sponsored by over 20 representatives and passed the House unanimously in 2015. The Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children endorsed the CPR in Schools legislation.

Thank your lawmakers for passing this livesaving measure.

Nearly 424,000 people have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital every year, and only 10.4 percent survive, most likely because bystanders simply don’t know what to do. When administered right away, CPR doubles or triples survival rates. Teaching students CPR will fill the state with lifesavers, giving sudden cardiac arrest victims the immediate help they need to survive making our communities safer and improving South Carolina’s survival rates.

South Carolina becomes the 30th state to require hands-on CPR joining Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia—all of which require CPR be taught to students in middle or high school.

The legislation was endorsed by 14 national and statewide organizations including the American Heart Association, South Carolina State Association of Fire Chiefs, South Carolina State Firefighters Association, and the South Carolina chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Be sure to send your thank you now.

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Fresh Food for Strong Kids

Why do we need a Healthy Corner Store Initiative?  This week, Valerie King, from Yadkinville, shares her thoughts.

Help us bring healthy foods to all NC communities this year – tell your lawmaker today.

"My little diva was born with a congenital heart defect. She has had 5 open heart surgeries and is the strongest kid I know. As we shuffle about from one after school activity to another, I get upset when I realize I have forgotten any snacks for her. When you live in rural North Carolina there aren’t many options available to stop and pick her up a quick healthy snack.

Her heart disease is something we couldn’t prevent. Now that she is here we want to be able to make sure she fuels her body with what she needs."

We all deserve the right to make a healthy choice. As legislative session is just around the corner, tell your lawmakers today that healthy food should be accessible in all communities, and ask them to support HB 250, the Healthy Small Food Retailer Act.

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A busy Albany comes to a stand still as Legislators go on break

You would never have guessed that yesterday more than 20,000 people came out to rally in support of three different candidates all vying for the 2017 Presidential bid. With supporters and protesters lining the streets of downtown Albany in hopes to see Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, or John Kasich, the scene was more than chaotic.

Today in Albany was much different.

The halls of the Capitol were quiet as many legislators were finishing up their work for the rest of April, preparing to go back to their districts for a much needed two week post-budget break. Knowing full well that May will bring on a flurry of legislative asks, Senators and Assemblymembers will enjoy the next two weeks at home before the madness of session swings into high gear. With only May and June left of the 2016 legislative session, AHA will be working hard on passing legislation that would raise the purchasing age for tobacco from 18 to 21; include e-cigarettes in the Clean Indoor Air Act; implement quality PE standards in schools, and many others.

Stay tuned for ways to help with these campaigns throughout the month of April!

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We Want You... To Come To State Lobby Day

Don’t worry!  There is still time to register for NC AHA You're the Cure State Lobby Day on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. But if you haven't already signed up - don't delay! Sign up here.

The event will begin promptly at 9am with an issues overview and advocacy training at the legislative building. The rest of the day will be spent meeting face to face with lawmakers and watching the House and Senate in action. We anticipate the day ending around 3:30pm.

This year, we will be advocating for the following policy initiatives:

  • Passage of the Healthy Corner Store Initiative with full funding.
  • Sharing the vital importance of accessing healthcare.

Register now! It's easy - just click here. Please register by Monday, April 25, as space is limited.

Final event details will be emailed in late April.

If you have any questions, please contact Kacie Kennedy.

We look forward to an exciting day with our advocates!

Sincerely,

Kim Chidester, Sarah Jacobson, & Betsy Vetter
Your North Carolina Advocacy Team

*PS - Want to make your registration easier? On the "detailed information" page, check the box beside the statement "carry forward" and your information will auto-fill on the next page of the registration form.

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