Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thank You to Our Volunteers

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Heart attack rates drop after smoking bans, continue downward over time

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Please take a look this story about a recent study on smoke-free air laws. We have known that smoke-free laws reduce exposure to secondhand smoke and that will reduce heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer over the long term. However, more and more studies are showing that communities that pass smoke-free laws are seeing an immediate and significant reduction in heart attacks after the laws go into effect.
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DALLAS, Sept. 21, 2009 — One year after passing smoking bans, communities in North America and Europe had 17 percent fewer heart attacks compared to communities without smoking restrictions, and the number of heart attacks kept decreasing with time, according to a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The report is a meta-analysis of 13 studies in which researchers examined changes in heart attack rates after smoking bans were enacted in communities in the United States, Canada and Europe. The researchers found that heart attack rates started to drop immediately following implementation of the law, reaching 17 percent after one year, then continuing to decline over time, with about a 36 percent drop three years after enacting the restrictions.

“While we obviously won’t bring heart attack rates to zero, these findings give us evidence that in the short- to medium-term, smoking bans will prevent a lot of heart attacks,” said James M. Lightwood, Ph.D., co-author of the study and assistant adjunct professor in the department of clinical pharmacy at the University of California–San Francisco. “The studies on this issue now have long enough follow-up periods so that we can see exactly how big the effect is.”

Lightwood also noted that the community effect is consistent with probable individual risk and exposure scenarios.

For example, according to the American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2009 Update, non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or at work have a 25 percent to 30 percent increased risk of developing heart disease. This new research suggests that the individual increased risk may be higher, said Lightwood.

“This study adds to the already strong evidence that secondhand smoke causes heart attacks, and that passing 100 percent smoke-free laws in all workplaces and public places is something we can do to protect the public,” Lightwood said. “Now we have a better understanding of how you can predict what will happen if you impose a smoking-free law.”

David Goff, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention and Professor of Public Health Sciences and Internal Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, and an American Heart Association national spokesperson said the paper provides strong support for the contention that smoke free laws will improve public health. “This is good evidence that the benefits are realistic and consistent with reasonable estimates of the harm imposed by secondhand smoke,” Goff said.

“It is important to move forward now with widespread implementation of smoke-free laws,” he added. “At a time of great concern over the financial sustainability of our healthcare system, smoke free laws represent an inexpensive approach to reducing heart attacks, and, probably, other cardiovascular conditions.”

New study: smoke-free laws reduce heart attacks and save lives

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The American Heart Association supports a new national study which found that smoking bans are effective at reducing the risk of acute cardiac events such as heart attacks associated with exposure to secondhand smoke.

“This report makes it increasingly clear that smoke-free policies are having a positive impact in reducing the heart attack rate in many communities,” said Clyde Yancy, M.D., American Heart Association President. “There’s no question that secondhand smoke has an adverse health impact in workplaces and public environments. We must continue to enact comprehensive smoke-free laws across the country to save lives and reduce the number of new smokers.”

The Institute of Medicine report, “Secondhand Smoke Exposure and Cardiovascular Effects: Making Sense of the Evidence,” sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests the strength of association between secondhand smoke and acute coronary events is compelling and provides evidence showing a cause-and-effect relationship between secondhand smoke exposure and heart problems.

…full story here

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Most in World Favor Smoke-Free Workplaces

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That according to a new poll conducted by RTI and Harris Interactive. The study, published in the International Journal of Public Health online edition, shows 74 percent of smoking employees and 87 percent of employers felt the workplace should be smoke-free.

"Although there was widespread variation among countries, overall the results demonstrate global support for workplace smoking bans," lead author Michael Halpern, a senior fellow at RTI, says in a statement.

The survey, sponsored by Pfizer, found employees estimate they spend an average of one hour per day smoking at work, but almost 70 percent say they did not believe that it had a negative financial impact on their employer.

In Texas there are 30 cities that have smoke-free workplace laws that include all bars and restaurants. However an attempt to cover the entire state was not passed last spring. The American Heart Association is working to further educate the public and lawmakers in attempt to pass a smoke-free workplace law next session.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Texas Stroke Act Begins Saving Lives

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This is a historic month in Texas as the goals and mission of the Texas Stroke Act become a reality. Thanks to all your efforts as a You're the Cure advocate legislators heard your voice and are implementing the key parts of the Texas Stroke Act.

Tell lawmakers to continue to improve stroke care in Texas

On October 1, the Department of State Health Services began receiving and processing applications for designation of Primary Stroke Centers - one of the major components of the Texas Stroke Act. AHA evidence and research indicates that by transporting stroke patients to a primary stroke center a patients' chance of stroke recovery increases significantly.

As you know when a stroke occurs time lost is brain lost. That is why additional funding was given to the Texas CVD Council that will improve transport protocols and EMS training that will saves lives and raise the awareness about stroke.

Please thank lawmakers that approved this funding and asked for their continued support.

Your message will go to your State Representative and Senator as well as the Chairs of the House and Senate budget committees. While the next legislative session is over a year away these committees meet year round to develop the state budget.

AHA lobbies State Board of Education for Health and PE requirements

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Last month we told you that PE and Health courses were in jeopardy in Texas schools. The good news is the State Board of Education met in September and they have the authority to keep PE and Health as requirements in two out of the three graduation plans. We need to keep the pressure on as the Board meets again in November to finalize these requirements.

Tell key members on the State Board of Education to keep PE and Health requirements in schools!

When HB 3 was passed by the Texas Legislature last spring, it had major implications for Texas schools. The law changed what is required for high school graduation. Some of the changes were drastic.

Among the changes were reductions in the amount of PE and Health courses that are required to graduate. The State Board of Education has sorted through these new requirements and is evaluating different proposals for implementing this new law.
While they have the power to keep PE and Health requirements in two out of three graduation plans, we need to make sure they follow through.

Help spread our message that PE and Health courses should not be removed from our schools. Take action today and send a message to key State Board of Education members!

Study: tax on soda, sugary drinks would help in obesity battle

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A report in the New England Journal of Medicine says taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages and soft drinks would help lower people’s overall calorie consumption while generating revenue that local governments can use for health programs.

The authors say a tax could promote the consumption of no-calorie beverages such as water and encourage manufacturers to reformulate their products to lower sugar thresholds. Also, revenue from these taxes “would be considerable and could be used to help support childhood nutrition programs, obesity-prevention programs, or health care for the uninsured or to help meet general revenue needs.”

See report in New England Journal of Medicine.


Childhood obesity: new parent resource features tips and inspirational stories thanks to the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation

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“Be Well," a new book from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, features more than 75 tips from moms on tough topics like cutting down screen time, getting kids to eat more vegetables and increasing physical activity. "Be Well" is available (in English and Spanish) at low or no cost online and through local schools and community centers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Partnerships Unites for Health Children

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When the Texas legislature passed HB 3 last spring they overhauled what courses are and are not required to graduate from a Texas High School. Among the changes are a reduction in Physical Education and the elimination of Health.

The State Board of Education has been left to sort through the massive new law and decide how it should be implemented. Click here to tell SBOE members to keep PE and Health in our schools!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Worst Fast Food Cities

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Men’s Health just released a story on the Worst Fast Food Cities in America. They took a look at the number of fast food chains in a city per capita, then factored in how many people visit fast food restaurants, then they looked at how many people consumed fast food seven or more times a month.

Unfortunately Texas was well represented on the list including nabbing the #1 spot. Take a look:

1. Arlington, Texas F
16. San Antonio, Texas D-
17. Fort Worth, Texas D-
22. Houston, Texas D-
30. Corpus Christi, Texas D
37. Dallas, Texas D+
39. El Paso, Texas D+
50. Austin, Texas C-
57. Lubbock, Texas C

Check out the story here: http://health.msn.com/nutrition/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100244148>1=31036

How often do you eat fast food? Do you have any tips for avoiding them and/or eating healthy choices there?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Conroe Goes Smoke-Free, Waco Might Be Next

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Earlier today the Conroe City Council voted in favor of going smoke-free! The ordinance that was passed unanimously will include all bars and restaurants and will give protection to thousands of workers, residents, and visitors of the community just north of Houston.

This is a big victory especially considering that just a few weeks ago all of the proposed ordinances included loopholes for many bars and restaurants. With the help of You’re the Cure volunteers in the area we were able to educate the City Council on the benefits of making all workplaces smoke-free. The Council heard our message and voted in favor up public health and workplace health!

Yesterday the Smoke-Free Waco coalition held a rally in front of City Hall to urge decision makers to make Waco the next smoke-free city.

The crowd heard from AHA Board Member and You’re the Cure advocate Jennifer Jenkins:

“Yet numerous studies of objective data, like sales tax receipts, show that going smoke-free does not adversely impact the hospitality industry; in fact, these businesses ultimately save money on health care costs, insurance, cleaning and other indirect costs of secondhand smoke.”

Do you live in a smoke-free city? If so, for how long and how are you enjoying it?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Support Smoke-Free Waco!

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Tomorrow morning the Smoke-Free Coalition will meet in front of City Hall for a press conference asking the city council to make all workplaces smoke-free. If you are in the Waco area and would like to show your support please attend the event!

It is open to the public and your presence will help demonstrate the support that smoke-free air has:

When: 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 25
Where: Waco City Hall, 300 Austin Street


Right now we are trying to raise awareness and educate council members on this important issue. Stay tuned on further developments from Waco and how you can help.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

PE & Health In Limbo As a Result of HB 3

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This past session one of the issues that has made the most noise and will have a lasting impact on public schools this fall is the elimination of health education. House Bill 3 by State Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) and State Senator Florence Shapiro was a piece of legislation that was over 200 plus pages. This piece of legislation addressed the accountability of schools for the education of Texas students. One small section made a major difference in the balanced education of Texas students and will impact the struggle we continue to address with childhood obesity.

The bill included language to change the high school graduation requirements from 1.5 credits of physical education to 1.0 credits of physical education. At first there were no more requirements for physical education but thanks to the advocacy efforts of the American Heart Association and action by the You’re the Cure network we were able to restore at least 1.0 credits of physical education. Unfortunately, HB 3 also eliminated the health education requirement of 0.5 credits. Fine arts graduation requirement was expanded from 0.5 to 1.0 credit. The implementation of this graduation plan is to begin with the 2009-10 school year.

School districts may still set the requirements for high school graduation that they want their students to achieve. A district may require their students to take the number of credits of physical education and health education their school board and community want them to take. The state requirement is a minimum standard. School districts may require more for their students.

Currently there are still some regulatory efforts that are under consideration at the Texas State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency that the Advocacy Department will be addressing. Stay tuned as we unveil our Advocacy efforts at the regulatory level over the next few weeks to try and salvage what is left of physical and health education.

Former CEO speaks about obesity problem to educators

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Former AHA CEO Cass Wheeler recently spoke to a group of high school PE teachers, coaches, and health educators at a Round Rock high school. His message was that they could help shape today's generation of youngsters and create healthier children. With a new state law that governs how much PE and Health is required for high school graduation teachers are preparing for the upcoming school year.

Here is Cass talking to the group of teachers:
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Obesity remains No. 1 health problem for kids in 2009

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Childhood obesity outranks all other health problems as the No. 1 health concern for children in the United States, topping drug abuse, smoking and bullying, according to a report by the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

This is the first survey year in which obesity tops the list for Hispanics, blacks and whites. In the 2008 survey, childhood obesity was ranked 6th by Hispanics and 3rd by blacks as the biggest child health problem.

Kids and parents are encouraged to visit the Alliance for a Healthier Generation website for fun information and easy ways to improve your health.

But what do you think we can do to get kids more active?

Alliance recognized by CDC

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Speaking of the Alliance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized the Alliance for a Healthier Generation with its “Pioneering Innovation Award” for advancing policies and environmental strategies to prevent and control obesity.

The award was presented July 29 at the CDC’s “Weight of the Nation” Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Alliance was founded in 2005 by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation to reduce childhood obesity by 2015 and empower children to make healthy lifestyle choices. The Alliance works to positively affect places that can make a difference in a child's health: homes, schools, restaurants, doctor's offices and communities.

Legislators Embark on their Homework Assignments

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Now that the Texas Legislature has had a few months off and will more than likely not return until the 82nd Legislature in 2011, lawmakers will be receiving their homework assignments or “interim charges” over the next few months. This is a critical time for lawmakers, staff, regulatory players, and stakeholders to develop policy initiatives, study them, and provide reports and recommendations for the 82nd Legislature to consider.

The American Heart Association Advocacy team has been meeting with key offices and providing input on issues related to obesity, stroke, health disparities, and tobacco as interim charges are considered in both the House and the Senate. This means committee hearings will gear up soon and our volunteers will be testifying and meeting with lawmakers. Additionally, our grassroots network will be using this opportunity educate staff and lawmakers about our public health policies on these issues. Once these committees have the chance to discuss the various public health issues their committees will vote on recommendations to submit to the 82nd Legislature which will then turn in bills, budget request, and regulatory recommendation that our Advocacy staff will constantly monitor.

Stay tuned as alerts will begin in the next few weeks to lay the ground work for the 82nd Legislature.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Galveston Passes Strong Smoke-Free Law!

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Last night, the Galveston City Council approved a smoke-free measure that will protect workers, residents and visitors from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

The new law makes every Galveston workplace smoke-free including restaurants, bars and private clubs.

The law will take effect January 1 as Galveston is will be among the 30 other Texas cities that enjoy smoke-free workplaces. Thanks to all the volunteers who called, emailed and testified in favor of this issue!

The Legislature Has Gone Home…Now What?

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The 1st Called Session of the 81st Legislature lasted less than 48 hours and legislators should not have a reason to return to the Capitol until January 2011. The American Heart Association’s Advocacy team monitored the proceedings to ensure there were not any pieces of legislation impacting heart disease and stroke. Now that the legislative sessions are behind us, it is now time to get to work on implementing the successes of the past session.


Advocacy staff is already working with the Texas Education Agency regarding the implementation of Senate Bill 891 which defines physical education in all public schools. Additionally, Advocacy staff is working with the Texas Department of State Health Services to implement and utilize the recently secured $1 million dollars for the Texas Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke. Discussions are underway with AHA volunteers on the Council, agency staff and AHA staff on cardiovascular disease and stroke programs that may be impacted by these funds.

Both the funding and the new Physical Education definition become effective September 1, 2009 so we have our work cut out for us. As we go through the regulatory process there will be plenty of opportunity for you, our volunteers and champions, to engage these legislative and regulatory leaders. Thanks to your efforts, the American Heart Association has made significant strides to impact heart disease and stroke with these two key legislative victories.

Stay tuned for continued updates and again, thank you for making these successes possible!

Smoke Free Texas Update

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As the summer months continue to provide us plenty of Texas warm weather, the Texas Advocacy staff continues the effort to ensure more Texans are covered by a comprehensive smoke-free workplace ordinance.

The Smoke Free Texas Coalition is reenergizing and coalition members such as the American Heart Association will be working on local ordinances throughout Texas to ensure our voices are heard and elected officials are well versed on what a strong law looks like.

Additionally, we will begin legislative visits with members of the Texas House and Senate over the next few months and will be calling upon you to join us at these visits, town hall meetings, and other events to raise awareness about the impacts of second hand smoke on cardiovascular disease.

Thank you for your continued support and if you should have any questions regarding Smoke Free Texas please contact Joel Romo at joel.romo@heart.org

Congress Moves Closer to Increasing Funding for NIH research.

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In July a Congressional subcommittee approved a 3.1% increase in research for the National Institute of Health. In a statement AHA President Clyde Yancy, M.D. commended the committee for their work:

“This increase, during these tough economic times, demonstrates a renewed national commitment to sustained and predictable funding growth for biomedical research. We urge the committee to maintain stable funding for 2011 when the temporary resources from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act expire,” Yancy said

.…more

What Moves U Challenge receives health information award

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The What Moves U Challenge – a joint program of the American Heart Association and National Football League – has been honored with a National Health Information Award. The awards recognize the nation’s best consumer health information programs and materials.

The What Moves U Challenge received a Silver Award in the “Total Health Information Program” category. It was chosen from more than 1,000 entries judged by a national panel of health information experts.

The awards program is coordinated by the Health Information Resource Center, a national clearinghouse for consumer health information programs and materials.

Adult obesity rose in 23 states last year

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Adult obesity rates increased in 23 states last year, and didn’t decline in any, according to a new report by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

According to the report:

· Mississippi had the highest obesity rate, 32.5 percent, for the fifth year in a row
· Texas is the 14th most obese at 27.9% for adults.
· The childhood obesity rate is higher at 32.2% which ranks 20th among all states.

According to the report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009,” obesity-related costs to Medicare and Medicaid are likely to grow significantly as the Baby Boomer generation ages, because of the large number of people in this population, the high rate of obesity and obesity’s negative health impact.

See F as in Fat 2009.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

American Heart Association & Smoke Free Texas Recognized for Smoke Free Efforts

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American’s For Non-Smoker’s Rights (ANR) recently recognized Texas as being the third leading state in the country for the number of strong, local smoke free laws enacted in 2008. The American Heart Association Advocacy team received the award on behalf of Smoke Free Texas and other stakeholders and volunteers that helped on the numerous local ordinances throughout the state and the statewide effort this past 81st Regular Session.

ANR presented the national award during their Smoke Free Monte Carlo Night Fundraiser and Clean Indoor Air Awards Ceremony in Phoenix, Arizona in an effort to raise awareness about smoke free efforts in the casino and gaming industry and highlight the smoke free efforts throughout the United States. Texas had numerous municipalities go smoke free last year such as Nacogdoches, Tyler, Dallas and Flower Mound that led to this distinguished recognition, and thanks to all those members of the You’re the Cure network that helped Texas earn this recognition.

Additionally, as Smoke Free Texas worked diligently to enact a comprehensive smoke free workplace law in Texas, the coalition stayed united to defeat any efforts to weaken any existing laws or ordinances as well as did not accept a weak smoke free law as a consolation prize this past session. The American Heart Association will continue working with the Smoke Free Texas Coalition to enact comprehensive smoke free ordinances throughout Texas and lay the groundwork to ensure a victory at the Texas Legislature during the next Regular Session in 2011.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

American Heart Association 81st Session Legislative Successes Benefit All Texans

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AUSTIN, Texas – “Thanks to numerous proposals advocated during the 81st Regular Session by the American Heart Association, all Texans will benefit from legislation and funding proposals providing for longer and healthier lives”— Dr. Amit Khera, Co-Chair of the Texas State Advocacy Committee.

During the Texas legislative session just completed, AHA advocacy efforts led to multiple successes impacting the health of the state:

Childhood Physical Education: “Texas has the unfortunate pleasure of having a greater prevalence of childhood obesity than many other states and current projections suggest that by 2040, 75% of Texas children will be overweight,” stated Khera. State Senator Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) and State Representative Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) led the effort to establish a standard definition of physical education that applies to all public school physical education curriculum and to address student-to-teacher ratios in physical education classes. “Senate Bill 891 creates a definition that will establish more meaningful and cognitive physical education curriculum and will help reduce these alarming statistics,” stated Khera. Additionally, Senate Bill 891 was amended to include students enrolled in full-day pre-kindergarten and also suggests language for a 45:1 student to teacher ratio to the extent practical.

Early Childhood Nutrition/Fitness: The health of Texas school children was also addressed as the American Heart Association lobbied for the passage of Senate Bill 282 and Senate Bill 283 by Senator Nelson. Currently there are no nutritional standards or educational efforts for early childhood education settings or community and faith-based childcare settings. Seventy percent of overweight children will become overweight adults. Senate Bill 282 requires the Texas Department of Agriculture to develop two nutrition-related grant programs and authorizes the department to develop a nutrition outreach program.Senate Bill 283 enhanced the responsibility of existing school health advisory councils by requiring the designation of a chair or co-chair, at least one formal meeting a year, and a written report to be submitted to the school board of trustees annually.-more-Another effort to impact childhood obesity was the enactment of Senate Bill 395 by State Senator Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) and State Representative Eddie Lucio, III (D-San Benito). This legislation creates a seven-member Early Childhood Health and Nutrition Interagency Council to develop an early childhood nutrition and physical education plan with a recommended timeline for implementation over a six-year period. The council is required to study existing nutrition and physical education programs and requirements in early childhood settings and to consult with key stakeholders to identify barriers to improving related standards.

Heart Disease/Stroke Funding: The American Heart Association was also able to secure funding in the amount of $5.7 million from the state’s $182 billion 2010-2011 budget. $1 million was secured for the Texas Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke which may be used for prevention and treatment projects relating to heart disease and stroke. Additionally, $4.7 million was secured for the Texas Department of State Health Services for Chronic Disease for local community prevention and health promotion interventions for obesity.

Health Insurance Assistance: The AHA also led the fight to help the uninsured by advocating on behalf of House Bill 2064 by State Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo) and State Senator Kip Averitt (R-Waco). House Bill 2064 provided rate assistance for individuals qualifying for coverage by the Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool (THIRP) but whose income makes THIRP coverage unaffordable. The Texas Health Insurance Risk Pool was created as a safety net for the medically uninsurable, who are unable to get health coverage through commercial insurers but able to afford the risk pool’s premiums.

Comprehensive Smoking Ban: Unfortunately, the single most impactful piece of legislation, Senate Bill 544/House Bill 5 by State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and State Representative Myra Crownover (R-Denton) which would have eliminated exposure to second-hand smoke in all public work places failed this session. “The fight for smoke-free air is over for this session, but our commitment to the health of Texans isn’t,” said Dr. Khera. “We will continue to work with local communities across the state to expand upon the nearly 30 that have passed comprehensive ordinances to prohibit dangerous secondhand smoke. And in 2011, we will again ask our state leaders to step up to the plate and put Texas into the league of smoke-free states,” stated Khera.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Smoke Free Texas Initiative Far From Snuffed

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American Heart Association, Coalition partners to continue fight for public health




AUSTIN, Texas – A comprehensive bill to ban smoking in all indoor workplaces may be dead for the 81st Texas legislative session, but officials of Smoke Free Texas vow the fight to protect public health will continue.

On behalf of Smoke Free Texas, a coalition of public health organizations, the American Heart Association has placed a billboard within the Texas Capitol’s shadow at 3rd and Congress. The billboard reminds lawmakers that according to a recent poll funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, 68% of Texans still support prohibiting smoking in all indoor work and public places, including restaurants and bars.

Senate Bill 544, authored by Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) passed through the Health and Human Services Committee, but Tuesday fell just short of the two-thirds vote needed to garner a full hearing in the Texas Senate. HB 5, authored by Rep. Myra Crownover (R-Denton) was also passed out of committee but the House was awaiting Senate action first. Similar legislation also failed to pass in the Texas Legislature last session.

Ellis and Crownover said they are likely to introduce the measure again during the next legislative session in two years. And American Heart Association officials say the billboard will serve as a reminder to lawmakers that there is unfinished business when the session ends later this month.

“The fight for smoke-free air is over for this session, but our commitment to the health of Texans isn’t,” said Joel Romo, Regional VP of Advocacy for the American Heart Association South Central Affiliate. “We will continue to work with local communities across the state to expand upon the nearly 30 that have passed comprehensive ordinances to prohibit dangerous secondhand smoke.”

“And in 2011, we will again ask our state leaders to step up to the plate and put Texas into the league of smoke-free states, soon to be 27 strong,” Romo said.

Last week, state lawmakers in Wisconsin and North Carolina passed smoke-free legislation, and the Governors in both states have indicated they will sign the bills into law.

Secondhand smoke kills 53,000 non-smoking Americans annually and is a known cause of heart disease, lung cancer, low birth weight, chronic lung ailments and other health problems. A 2006 report by the U.S. Surgeon General – the most comprehensive scientific report ever produced on the health impact of secondhand smoke – concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

SFT - Not this Year

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I am sad to announce that our efforts to remove smoking from all workplaces in the state will not succeed this year. After a long and hard fight it became clear that we were 1 or 2 votes shy of being able to bring SB 544 up for a debate in the Senate. I am proud of the work put in by AHA and our coalition partners to move this issue forward. I am also incredibly grateful for the level of support shown by our You're the Cure advocates on this issue.

With over 81 co-sponsors in the House and over a majority of the Senate in favor we have made significant progress in educating members and securing their support. We will continue to work on passing smoke-free laws in communities throughout Texas to further protect individuals from secondhand smoke and reduce their risk for heart disease and stroke. Thanks again for all your help on this issue.

Brian Bowser
Grassroots Coordinator

Back Again

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1:119 We're back again keeping an eye on the Texas Senate. And I've got an update...a vote could happen today...or it couldn't. We really don't know right now. Stay tuned and we'll let you know if SB 544 will be heard today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Smoke Free Debate...Could Be Soon!

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2:58 Like within minutes

3:00 Or maybe not. Lt. Gov said his desk was clear meaining no more bills will be heard today. Waiting for clarification

3: 03 Senate has adjourned for the day. See ya tommorrow at 11 am...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Smoke-Free Update

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We were hoping and half expecting the Senate to hear debate and vote on the Smoke-Free bill today. However, the Senate has just adjourned for the day and will return on Monday at 11 am.

We need to continue to hit (not literally or anything) Texas Senators over the weekend and demand they vote on Smoke-Free Texas. Visit http://www.smokefreetexasnow.org/ to send your message today!

Brian Bowser
Grassroots Coordinator

Monday, May 11, 2009

Breaking News: Senate Committee Passes Strong Smoke-Free Bill

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I am happy to report that a strong smoke-free proposal has just been approved by a Senate committee, meaning we are still alive in the fight for clean air! After a House committee passed a weaker version last week this is an important step as we head towards the last three weeks of the legislative session.

Watch the committee vote on it below.

These bills will now head to the full House and Senate for a vote. If you haven’t already click here to tell your elected officials to pass a strong smoke-free law that will protect the whole state.

Today the Dallas Morning News ran a story on the impact that Big Tobacco is having on this issue. Over the last several months the tobacco industry has poured in between $1.2 and $2.4 million and is employing 40 lobbyists to fight common sense measures like smoke-free workplaces. Read the full story here.

Please don’t let the tobacco lobby set public policy in Texas. Click here to take action and make Texas the next smoke-free state!



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Nobody said fighting Big Tobacco would be easy….

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…And its not!

It’s a fight that has been going on for decades and never seems to get any easier. Despite numerous “wins” at the local, state, and federal levels it is always a struggle to trump the big money and big influence that big tobacco always has.

In Texas the tobacco industry has pumped in between $1.2 million and $2.4 million in the last 5 months according to reports form the Texas Ethics Commission compiled by the Dallas Morning News. They have retained 40 lobbyists to defeat Smoke-Free Texas.

With around three weeks left in the legislative session we need to show lawmakers the type of support smoke-free air really has. Visit our “action site” at www.SmokeFreeTexasNow.org and let your voice be heard! We can counter Big Tobacco but only if all of us stand up and work together.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Smoke-Free Texas On Life Support...Help Us Revive It

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Our Smoke-Free bill is on life support, but you can help give it a new life. The good news is that the smoke-free proposal has been passed by a House committee. The bad news is that it contains many weakening changes. We need your help to change the bill and restore it to its original intent.

Click here to tell your lawmaker to amend HB 5!

You’ve helped us get this far, now is not the time to turn back. It is still possible to pass a strong law by amending it on the House and Senate floor, but the clock is ticking.

The current version of HB 5 is unacceptable in several ways including:

-It would provide a loophole to many businesses including most bars. Hospitality and bar workers who work in smoky environments are 50% more likely to get heart disease or lung cancer than those who work in smoke-free environments. These workers would be left out!

-It wouldn’t cover counties with a population less than 115,000. Why should workers in Dallas, Houston, and Austin be protected but not those in smaller communities? 226 counties and 5.3 million people would be left out!

-It wouldn’t allow local communities to strengthen their own city ordinances. We believe in a statewide law that would give basic protection to workers, but feel local communities have a right to pass stronger laws. This would prohibit cities from doing just that.

Please tell your lawmaker to amend HB 5 and make all of Texas Smoke-Free, not just some of it. Go to www.SmokeFreeTexasNow.org to take action and share that site with friends and family.

Sincerely,

Brian Bowser
Grassroots Coordinator


Heart Disease and Stroke. You’re the Cure.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Smoke-Free Hearing....Later Today

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Just waiting on the House of Representatives to wrap up so the State Affairs Committee can meet and have a hearing on Smoke-Free Texas. We just wrapped up a great press conference and I can really feel the momentum building. Stay tuned....

5:37 The House wrapped up around 5:15 so the State Affairs Committee should be getting started anytime time. Members are filing in and taking their seats.

5:40 Chairman Solomons calls the committee to order....

5:46 House Author Myra Crownover lays out her bill. HB 5 Smoke-Free Texas. "This is about protecting the workers in the state of Texas..."

5:55 Retired AHA CEO Cass Wheeler is now addressing the committee. "Passing this bill will reduce heart disease and reduce health care costs.

5:59 A restaurant owner from Amarillo is speaking against the bill saying its a personal rights issue, not a health issue.

State Rep Lucio counters by saying when people smoke indoors, they are imposing their choice on others.

6:06 Austin restaurant owner Bick Brown testifies in favor or smoke-free Texas. He made the decision to go smoke-free on his own, and called it one of the best business decision he's made. It has been beneficial for his customers and employees.

6:11 A bartender and college student from College Stations says she only had limited job options and bartending was one of them. College Station was not smoke-free when she began but now, wouldn't have it any other way. "Smoke-free laws don't hinder rights, they enable them. I now have the right to work in a healthy environment"

6:19 Former El Paso City Councilmember talks about when he helped pass the ordinance in El Paso. He said at first he was not supportive, then he studied the issue. He looked at the data on secondhand smoke and the data on bar and restaurant revenue. "I wanted to be on the right side of the issue even if I wasn't on the winning side, and that's why I supported it"

6:36 Flower Mound Mayor testifies in favor of smoke-free Texas talking about passing her ordinance. "We want to keep big government out of Flower Mound, but this is a smart law that is good for public health"

6:56 Former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd is now testifing for smoke-free air. He was Mayor when Austin passed its first ordinance, just covering restaurants. He said most business owners opposed it at first, now they love it. Later the Austin citizens, not the city goverment, approved an even stronger ordinance covering bars and other workplaces.

7:07 They are going back and forth allowing one person to speak in favor of the bill, then one person against it.

7:10 Dr. Phil Huang is now testifying for the bill. He is now the Travis County Medical Director but was the former Preventive Medicine Specialist at Texas Department Of Health.

Even limited exposure to secondhand has an adverse effect on the cardiovascular system.

7:27 We are mostly hearing from the opposition now. Tobacco shop owners and cigar bar owners.

7:48 Testimony continues and the arguments the same. Basically it boils down to this: We believe all workers deserve smoke-free. Opponents believe the rights of smokers, to smoke in indoor workplaces, outweighs all other rights.

7:52 I personally think that the committee is getting tired of hearing from the tobacco industry on this issue. Especially considering the long history of Big Tobacco to lie and mislead consumers, the general public and Congress on the health impact of their product.

8:06 Testimony on Smoke-Free Texas has concluded. House Author Myra Crownover is now providing closing remarks on her bill.

8:16 Smoke-Free bill has been left pending. Now we have two identical bills in a House Committee and a Senate Committee that need to be voted on. Go to www.SmokeFreeTexasNOW.org to tell your lawmakers to support Smoke-Free Texas.

Smoke-Free Texas Press Conference

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3:00 pm A press conference to release the results of our online petition is about to begin. The AHA and Smoke-Free Texas coalition collected almost 10,000 signatures in just two days in support of smoke-free air.

Native Texan and Former AHA CEO Cass Wheeler (pictured above) will emcee the press conference.

3:10 Cass opens the press conference. "We set an ambitious goal of 5,000 signatures, but underestimated the widespread support for smoke-free air and nearly doubled our goal with close to 10,000 signatures..."

3:15 Cass introduces Senate author Rodney Ellis. "In a year or two after we pass this bill we will be asking ourselves what were we smoking for this to take so long"

3:26 Hyde Park Bar and Grill owner Bick Brown is now speaking. His establishment went smoke-free before he was required to. Said his decision was made when a long time employee came to him and said, "I shouldn't have to risk my health to work for you".

3:28 Flower Mound Mayor talks about passing a strong smoke-free ordinance a few months ago. "After four months I'm getting calls from restaurant owners who opposed the ordinance saying 'Thank You' for passing this ordinance."

3:32 Cass is back at the podium.

"This is not about Republicans, it is not about Democrats, and its not about politics. This is about public health and saving lives. Let's get these bills out of the political process and into the public health process and let's save those lives."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You're the Cure on the Hill 2009

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This was my 4th year to attend as a staff member for the American Heart Association’s You’re the Cure on the Hill National Lobby Day in Washington, D.C. It has always been an enjoyable experience, but this year was probably the most memorable yet. For a number of reasons, I felt the advocates from Texas really had a meaningful impact on furthering our policy initiatives. We had a group of around nine advocates and staff that touched all 34 offices in the Texas delegation including 32 Congressional offices and two Senate offices. Some of our volunteers included Dr. Clyde Yancy, incoming President of the AHA, Dr. Amit Khera, M.D., preventative cardiologist, UT Southwestern, and Connie Kerr, seasoned advocate from Arlington, Texas. We had over 15 meetings with congressional members and staff and really got our core “messages” out.



Our messages included increasing NIH funding for research and education, CDC funding for prevention including a $74 million ask for our Heart and Stroke Prevention program, a $37 million ask for our Heart for Women Act and a formal request to sign a letter to the President requesting the same. We also had a general request for health care reform by providing more accessible, affordable and higher quality care than is currently being provided in this country.

In addition to the wonderful visits we had on Capitol Hill, Dr. Khera and I had the privilege of being invited to present at a breakout session on Monday afternoon and spoke about how the American Heart Association’s national policy priorities are used to create statewide legislative priorities, agendas and implementation. I gave the staff’s perspective and Dr. Khera gave the volunteer’s perspective.

I found this Lobby Day to be the most rewarding yet and it reminded me why the AHA’s mission of fighting cardiovascular disease and stroke is so important.

Douglas Dunsavage
Government Relations Director, AHA
Texas

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Smoke-Free Hearing....Now!

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4:12 Dr. Phil Huang is now testifying on behalf of Smoke-Free Texas. He is speaking to the improvement of air quality seen in communities seen after smoke-free laws have been passed.

See the twitter updates on the right for updates on previous speakers.

4:20 Dallas County Medical Director John Carlo is up next. "Smoke-Free communities see an immediate and dramatic reduction in hospitalizations from heart attacks..."

4:24 Jeff Knisely is now speaking. Not only is he the Government Relations Director for the American Lung Associations but also a musician and performer. He is speaking to the burden put on live music performers forced to perform in smoke filled venues.

4:33 Comments from proponents of the SB 544 have concluded we are now hearing from the opposition.

4:35 I currently only see three of the nine senators that are on the committee. Eliot Shapleigh from El Paso, Joan Huffman from Houston and Robert Nichols from Jacksonville all appear present.

4:38 Chair Jane Nelson (Flower Mound) is now here. Thanks everyone for their testimony.

4:47 So far most of the opponents have been owners of tobaccos shops and cigar bars.

4:50 Senator Royce West, Dallas, is now present. Currently 5 of the 9 committee members are present.

5:00 Senator Carlos Uresti, San Antonio is now here.

5:15 Mostly business owners are testifying, fearful of losing business. It is important to note that all objective studies on smoke-free laws show no adverse economic impact to in cities and states where similar laws have been passed.

Only 19% of Texans are smokers so any potential loss of business could easily be made up by a larger percentage of the populace being more likely to visit your establishment.

5:25 Another argument against smoke-free workplaces, is the business rights angle. "the government shouldn't tell people how to run their businesses..." Opponents fail to mention the numerous safeguards that government puts on business to safeguard consumers. Things from food temperature to cleanliness of the restaurant are routinely regulated. And most people think those regulations are pretty good ideas.

5:40 Opponents continue to testify against SB 544. Most argue that it infringes on personal rights. They fail to point out we simply ask people to go outside when they smoke. Under current language in the bill smokers will be allowed to re-enter the establishment after they go outside.

5:45 Great testimony from a Tyler City Council member who talked about his experience about passing a comprehensive ordinance in Tyler last year. "We were open minded going into the process, but cam to the conclusion that it was primarily a health issue..."

6:04 Oral testimony has concluded. Nelson is reading those who submitted written testimony.

6: 07 Public testimony is over. The bill has been left pending, which means they will vote on it at a later date. The next time the Health and Human Services committee will meet is Thursday, so hopefully it will be passed then!

Visit http://www.smokefreetexasnow.org/ to tell your lawmakers to vote Yes on SB 544. Thanks!

Smoke-Free Hearing...Today!

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9:05 The Smoke-Free Texas bill will be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee today, we just don't know exactly when. You can check back here throughout the day or watch live feeds from the capitol here: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/bin/live.php

The Committee is scheduled to meet at 9 so they should be begining any time now.

9:07 Committee Chair Jane Nelson brings committee to order. She mentions the Smoke-Free bill in her opening remarks saying that it likely won't be heard until after the full Senate adjourns this afternoon.

So the committee will meet from 9 am-11am then the full Senate will meet. We don't know exactly when it will be heard, but it will undoubtably be this afternoon, possibly around 4pm.

12:15 The Senate has been in session for a little over an hour. The Health and Human Services committee will return 30 minutes after the Senate adjourns.

12:42 The Senate has adjourned and the Health and Human Services committee will resume at 1:30 pm.

1:34 The Health and Human Services Committee has returned. Our Smoke-Free Bill will be the 10th item on the agenda.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Smoke-Free Hearing Set for Tuesday

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A hearing has been set for the Smoke-Free Texas bill that will eliminate smoking from all workplaces. This is the first major step on the road towards smoke-free air. The hearing will be next Tuesday, April 14 in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Once it is passed (cross your fingers) it will go to the full senate for a vote. Click here to tell your Senator to support Smoke-Free Texas!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Delay Tactics Fail in Dallas

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Public Health Trumps Big Tobacco!

Efforts to delay the Dallas smoke-free ordinance from going into effect failed today at City Hall. While the new ordinance was scheduled to go into effect April 10, opponents wanted to push back the start date. But the council voted against the delay and now on Friday all Dallas workplaces will be non smoking including all restaurants and bars.

"Smoke-Free air cannot wait any longer" said Dr. Amit Khera, Dallas resident and Co-Chair of AHA's State Advocacy Committee. "Secondhand smoke is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease and now all Dallas workers and residents will get the smoke-free air they deserve."

We thank all of the You're the Cure advocates who took action on this issue and told Dallas officials that Smoke-Free air couldn't wait. If you want to help make Texas smoke-free please visit http://www.smokefreetexasnow.org/ and take action today! All Texans should have the right to smoke-free air that is currently enjoyed by close to 30 Texas cities and 25 U.S. States.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Committee Hearing on PE Bill

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9:09 The Senate Education Committee is taking testimony on SB 891 - which will improve physical education in Texas.

9:16 American Heart Association volunteer Kenny Taylor is now testifying in favor of this bill. "Only half of adolescents engage in daily physical activity and only 25% report daily physical education.....we are raising perhaps the least active and most unhealthy generation of Americans."

9:23 SB 891 has been passed by the Senate Education Committee by a vote of 5-0!! It will now head to the full Senate a vote.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Press Conference Pics!

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Press Conference emcee and Youth Advocate Nina Yancy at the podium


Season 6 winner of NBC's The Biggest Loser-Michelle Aguilar talking about the importance of quality physical education

Authors of the PE bill: St. Rep. Diana Maldonado (D-Round Rock) and St. Senator Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville)


Click here to see video footage of the Press Conference as reported by the Austin American Statesman.






Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Texas Physical Education Press Conference

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Michelle Aguilar, winner of the Biggest Loser,
as she addresss a group of supporters at the AHA Youth Lobby Day.

Below are updates from today's PE Press Conference and Youth Lobby Day. Our special guest is Michelle Aguilar who was the winner of last year's Biggest Loser.

12:25 Rep. Maldonado being introduced and the Hot Shot Jump Rope team.

12:15 Michelle just wrapped. Nina, 18 year old youth is thanking her. Introducing Rep Eissler and Sen Nelson.

12:00 Michelle now speaking about The Biggest Loser. Kids are jump roping behind her.

11:55 Presser underway. Nina Yancy mc and Paul Carozza speaking now.

10:00am Michelle Aguilar is with Senator Nelson. Getting ready to be recognized on the TX Senate floor. #ahalobbytx

9:00am With Michelle Aguilar winner of The Biggest Loser as we get ready to lobby the TX legislature on PE in schools. Presser @ noon. #ahalobbytx

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Session Update: Advocacy in Action

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video

The Texas Legislature is in full swing with committees at work addressing thousands of pieces of legislation. There are less than 90 days left in this session and we need your continued support if we want to build healthier lives free of heart disease and stroke.

Here is an update on the issues we have been working on:

Smoke-Free Texas -- HB 5/SB 544

What it Does: Will eliminate secondhand smoke in all workplaces in the state.

Where the Bill Is: It has been referred to committees in both chambers and we are awaiting a public hearing.

What can I do? Take action today and tell your lawmakers to vote YES to smoke-free Texas.

Strengthening Physical Education Texas -- SB 891

What it Does: Defines physical education in Texas so all students receive quality PE courses.

Where the Bill Is: It is awaiting a hearing in the Senate Public Education committee.

What can I do? Take action today and tell your Senator to vote Yes to strengthening PE standards in Texas.

Funding for the Future

The American Heart Association is also seeking close to $15 million dollars in new funding for various cardiovascular disease and stroke programs. These programs range from the Texas Stroke Act and the Texas Rural Emergency Dispatch program to tobacco prevention programs and obesity awareness and initiatives.

Funding these various initiatives would reduce the number of deaths related to cardiovascular disease and stroke and provide for a healthier Texas. Currently both the House and Senate are considering these budget request and AHA volunteers and staff are advocating for the funding of these initiatives.

With your help we can continue to make an impact in the fight against heart disease and stroke in Texas. Please take action on the issues above and stay tuned for more on AHA's efforts at the Capitol.

P.S. Be sure to sign up for You're the Cure at www.YouretheCure.org for email alerts on these issues.

Heart Disease and Stroke. You're the Cure.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nelson wants PE classes beefed up

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State Senator Jane Nelson has filed multiple bill that will improve physical education in Texas schools--all of which are heavily supported by the American Heart Association. Please read the following Fort Worth Star Telegram article that talks about her plan to reduce childhood obesity in Texas. Click here for the article.

"Far too many of our youth are leading super-sized, sedentary lifestyles which put their lives in danger," Nelson said in a statement. "Unless we take action, an entire generation of Texans will live shorter lives than their parents."

Nelson, a former school teacher, has been a long time supporter of increased physical education in schools.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You're the Cure Advocates in Action

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Today, You’re the Cure Advocates from across Texas are in Austin to help advance the American Heart Association’s legislative agenda. There are over a dozen volunteers that will meet with key legislators on our priority issues like Smoke-Free Texas, improving physical education in schools, and increasing funding for prevention programs.

But, their presence alone isn’t enough. Lawmakers need to hear from you back home to amplify our message. All you have to do is click here to tell your lawmaker to support the AHA’s key issues. Here’s what else you can do:

1. When you click on the link to take action add a personal message on why preventing heart disease is important to you. Legislators need to hear from real people on the devastating affects of heart disease and stroke.

2. Become our friend on Facebook. Just go to http://www.facebook.com/ and search for the group or fan page “You’re the Cure – South Central Affiliate”

3. Follow us on Twitter; just search for YouretheCureTX and get up to the minute blurbs from the Capitol.

Check back soon for photos from today and commentary from volunteers and staff!

Sincerely,

Brian Bowser
American Heart Association


Heart Disease and Stroke. You’re the Cure.

South Central Affiliate
Brian Bowser-Grassroots Coordinator
512/433-7169
1700 Rutherford Ln.
Austin, TX 78754
Brian.Bowser@heart.org

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Texas House Goes Red

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Today the Texas House of Representatives went red in recognition of our Go Red For Women movement. Heart disease is the number one killer of women in America, but sadly too few women and men are aware of that fact.

We asked legislators to wear red to for all the women in their life. St. Reps Myra Crownover (R-Denton) and Veronica Gonzales (D-McAllen) authored a resolution to make Friday February 6 National Wear Red Day in Texas.

On Friday we encourage you to break out your favorite red blouse or red tie for the women in your life. Wearing red on Friday will say heart disease is a serious health threat to all women. But it will also say it is preventable through healthy eating, an active lifestyle, and access to quality health care.

Go to http://www.goredforwomen.org/ for more information.

Brian Bowser

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Press Conference Pics

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View all the photos here and check out the commentary in the post below. Thanks to everyone that showed up both online and in person. What a great turnout and event. Stay tuned as we upload more photos from the event. Thanks!!
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Brian Bowser
Grassroots Coordinator

Smoke-Free Texas Press Conference

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Hello everyone...we're just getting set up at the capitol. Here is a map of the U.S. based on who is smoke-free. We hope to put Texas in the green column in less than 5 months

Just to remind everyone Smoke-Free Texas is a coaltion of groups including the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, Texas Parent Teachers Association, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and many more. But, AHA is well represented today. Above is San Antonio Communications Director Sandy Levy, Austin Communications Director Glen Huschka, and Austin Executive Director Alison Young.
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12:58 Suzanne Lozano, RN will emcee the press conference. Suzanne is a long time volunteer for the Heart Association has sat on the San Antonio Board of Directors and is currently a member of our State Advocacy Committee.
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1:15 Suzanne takes the podium. "This is not about the legal right to smoke – it’s about workplace safety. And the scientific evidence is clear and unarguable – secondhand smoke is dangerous and deadly. "
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1:19 State Represenative Myra Crownover (R-Denton) is up next. She is the bill author in the House and is highly committed to seeing HB 5 pass.
"House Bill 5 will save thousands of lives at no cost to business or to the State of Texas. In fact, it will save taxpayer money that the State is now spending on healthcare."
1:21 State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) is now speaking--he has authored the bill in the Senate. "Houston went smoke-free and the sky didn't fall..."
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1:25 About 250 supporters have shown up on a chilly Austin afternoon. State Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) is now speaking. Nelson chairs the Health and Human Services committee, her support is huge!
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1:27 Nelson introduces the man of the hour....Lance Armstrong. Lance jokingly remarks that he is going to quit racing and run for Gov in 2010...big laughs from the crowd. Having Lance's support is also huge.
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1:45 Press Conference is a wrap. They are now headed to a press briefing to answer questions and go over poll results.
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1:50 68% of Texans support smoke-free air for ALL workplaces including including bars and restaurants
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1:55 72 percent believe the rights of customers and employees to breathe clean air is more important than rights of smokers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Special Invitation...

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Join us at the Texas Capitol for a special Smoke-Free Texas Press Conference. This Thursday we will unveil the results of a recent statewide poll. Join State Senator Rodney Ellis, State Representative Myra Crownover, and world class athlete and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong on the Capitol south steps. If you plan on attending remember to wear red!

Smoke-Free Texas Press Conference
Thursday, January 29, 2009
1 PM

South Steps of the Capitol

If you can't make it you can do two things:

1. Click here to send a message to your lawmakers and ask them to attend the Press Conference and support Smoke-Free Texas.

2. Join us here at 1 pm on Thursday as we blog on the event. Get live updates from the Texas Capitol as we kick off our Smoke-Free Texas campaign.

Passing the Smoke-Free Texas proposal would eliminate smoking in all worksites in the state. Secondhand smoke has proven to cause heart disease, cancer, and other serious health issues. No worker should be forced to choose between their health and a job. Thanks for helping reduce heart disease and stroke in Texas.

Email me with any quesitons or comments. Thanks!

Brian.Bowser@heart.org

Friday, January 23, 2009

SCHIP Needs Your Help

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The massively popular and successful State Children’s Health Insurance Program needs your help.

Right now is a very exciting time for our Advocacy Department. State legislatures are back in session and Congress is ready to move on one of our top legislative priorities. Before the new President even took office, the House of Representatives passed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) Reauthorization Act of 2009, legislation that would continue to provide coverage to the more than 6.6 million already enrolled in the program and expand affordable coverage to an additional 4 million children. We need the Senate to quickly pass SCHIP as well, but we need your help.

With just a click of a button you can send your Senators an email asking for their support. The AHA makes it easy:

1) Click here: http://www.capitolconnect.com/yourethecure/fastaction.aspx?AlertID=11769
2) Add a personal message to the template email message provided.
3) If you are already a You're the Cure member, just enter your last name an email address to take action
4) If you are not a You're the Cure member, just complete the form with your contact information so the system can link you to your Senators.

Heart defects are the most common birth defect in the United States, and stroke is among the top 10 causes of death in children. If passed the bill would ensure that children from low-income families who are born with these conditions are not denied the opportunity to lead healthy and productive lives simply because their parents cannot afford health insurance. SCHIP also includes a state option to cover targeted low-income pregnant women through the program as a way to provide the essential prenatal care that can help reduce birth defects.

The Senate is expected to act as early as next week, so don’t delay and send your email message now!

Thank you for your support!

Help Improve PE in Texas

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With childhood obesity reaching epidemic proportions the time for action is now. The problem has many causes and it will take many different approaches to effectively solve it. Parents, teachers, schools, children, lawmakers, and others all need to be accountable. A report released by State Comptroller Susan Combs stated that obesity costs Texas businesses an estimated $3.3 billion due to health care costs, absenteeism, lost productivity, and disability. From a sheer business perspective we cannot afford to overlook this issue.

Obesity is of course a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, many forms of cancer and a host of other health problems. Most everyone agrees that it is imperative to stop obesity before it starts. Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

With the Texas Legislature back in session the American Heart Association will be supporting a bill that will improve physical education in the state. The bill will increase daily physical activity, require certified PE instructors, and strengthen PE requirements for students. Tell your lawmakers to support this and other AHA priorities during the 2009 Legislative Session

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