Friday, December 11, 2009

Help us improve PE in schools

During the next legislative session the American Heart Association will be supporting strong new requirements that will improve physical education in schools. With the growing childhood obesity epidemic we need to give our children the knowledge and skills necessary to live healthy lives.

We need your help to let lawmakers know this should be one of their top priorities. Sign up at to sign up as an American Heart Association Advocate.

Improving PE requirements will give our children the foundation they need to learn about good nutrition and physical activity. Obesity is the second leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Efforts made now will help children avoid a lifetime of chronic disease and disability.

We will be supporting legislation that will:
• Increase the physical education requirement in our schools.
• Establish enforcement of the physical education requirement.
• Strengthen the definition of physical education in schools.

Please take a few seconds to click on the link above to take actsign up and become a You're the Cure adovcate. Or, if you're already signed up, go online and take action today to let your lawmakers know that you care about the health of our school children. With your help we will improve PE in Oklahoma schools and build a healthier future.

Oklahoma's smoking prevention program is 11th in the U.S.

Oklahoma’s smoking prevention program is 11th in U.S.

Published: December 10, 2009

Oklahoma ranks 11th among states in funding programs to prevent young people from taking up smoking and to help existing smokers quit, according to The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, a coalition of public health groups.

Oklahoma will spend $21.1 million this fiscal year on prevention and cessation efforts. That’s $2 million more than last fiscal year, when the group ranked Oklahoma 13th among states.

But the state still spends less than half the $45 million recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only one state, North Dakota, spent the recommended amount.

“We’re well on our way to doing what’s needed, but we have a long way to go,” said Tracey Strader, executive director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Trust Fund. “Certainly Oklahoma is making forward progress where a lot of other states are falling backwards.”

Still, the report criticizes Oklahoma for spending just 5.4 percent of money from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes on prevention programs. Strader says that’s because Oklahoma decided to invest settlement funds and spend only interest revenue.

“Oklahoma took a longer-term vision by creating an endowment and only using the earnings,” said Doug Matheny, chief of tobacco use prevention for the state Health Department.

He said Oklahoma is starting to see results from that investment. The adult smoking rate dropped from 28.7 percent in 2001 to 24.7 percent in 2008. During the same period, the proportion of former smokers in Oklahoma increased from 22.1 percent to 24.7 percent. That marked the first time Oklahoma had equal numbers of former and current smokers.

Matheny said the number of cigarettes sold each year dropped last year to a 40-year low of 287.5 million packs, sold by both tribal and nontribal entities. He attributes the drop to prevention and cessation efforts and public policy. More than 37,000 Oklahomans called the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline in fiscal year 2009.

The state has a goal of reducing tobacco use rates to below the national rate of 20 percent by 2012.

“Over 6,000 Oklahomans die each year because of tobacco use,” Matheny said. “It’s the No. 1 preventable cause of death.”

Know it: Addiction

To get help
Call the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline at (800) QUIT-NOW.

The full report from The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids is available at

Michigan becomes the next state to go smoke free!

The Michigan legislature passed a measure that prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants and workplaces. The American Heart Association, along with several other health organizations, plans to push a similar bill during the 2010 session.

Michigan lawmakers pass smoking ban that exempts 3 Detroit casinos, cigar bars, home offices
Associated Press Writer
(c) 2009. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Legislature passed a long-delayed smoking ban Thursday, with exceptions for three Detroit casinos that have to compete with tribal casinos not affected by the ban.

The Democrat-led House agreed Thursday afternoon to slight changes made by the Republican-led Senate earlier in the day. The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who welcomed the bill's passage.

"It's a terrific gift to Michigan," she told reporters.

The ban will take effect in May 2010. It applies to all bars, restaurants and work places, except for the Detroit casinos, cigar bars, tobacco specialty stores, home offices and motor vehicles.

Although smoking will be allowed on casino gambling floors, it will be banned in the casinos' bars, restaurants and hotels.

The Senate approved a ban with no exceptions last year, but that bill failed in the House, which wanted the exceptions for the Detroit casinos. The House in May passed the bill adopted Thursday by the Senate.

With Granholm's signature, Michigan will become the 38th state to limit smoking in public places such as government buildings, bars and restaurants, according to Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, who has kept alive the push for a statewide smoking ban. He favors a total ban, but was satisfied with the progress so far.

"We've moved the ball down the court, and even scored a basket," he said of Thursday's vote. "We haven't scored a three-pointer."

Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, also wanted casinos included in the ban but was pleased with the Senate vote.

"It will be a great day in this state when we are totally, 100 percent smoke free ... (but) I'm very proud of what we've done today," he said.

Several senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said they objected to the ban because it intruded on decisions bar and restaurant owners should make based on their customers' desires.

"This is a blatant overreach by government," Bishop said.

The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, which lobbied against the measure, predicted the smoking ban would cost the state thousands of jobs.

"It's our elected officials' responsibility in this economic climate to pass legislation that helps all Michigan businesses, not just a few select business groups," executive director Lance Binoniemi said in a statement.

Public health officials praised the measure. "The Legislature today has made a great stride forward toward building healthier communities for everyone in Michigan," said Dr. Greg Holzman, the chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Community Health.
Among nearby states, only Indiana doesn't have some type of smoking ban in place. Michigan lawmakers have been trying for more than a decade to pass a ban.

Some residents remain opposed to it, including Don Doze, 54, who was eating Thursday in the smoking section of a Big Boy restaurant in Detroit.

"I want to enjoy my food or drink, and enjoy my cigarette," said Doze, a Detroit retiree who has smoked for decades. "I don't want to walk away from my table to go outside and smoke."
Heaven White, 35, of Detroit, who was sitting in the nonsmoking section of the same restaurant, said a ban on smoking in restaurants and the workplace is good. Still, she said smoking should be allowed in bars.

"Smoking goes with drinking," White said. "That's the place you go to be a bad girl, a bad boy."
Mike Nolan, owner of a tobacco shop in downtown Traverse City and president of the Michigan Cigar Association, described the bill as a "mixed blessing." He was pleased outlets such as his were exempt but said the measure treats smokers unfairly.

"It should be a matter of choice -- for the customer, for the bar and restaurant owner, for the employee working there," Nolan said.

Granholm said the lack of a smoking ban made Michigan look like a state that didn't care about health. That perception should change with a ban being put in place, she said.

After the Senate passed the ban 24-13 Thursday, the House passed it 75-30.
Republican Sen. Bill Hardiman of Kentwood didn't vote because he was absent. Only one Senate Democrat, Sen. Jim Barcia of Bay City, joined a dozen Senate Republicans in opposing the bill.
In the House, the bill was opposed by 23 Republicans and seven Democrats. Five representatives didn't vote. Rep. Ed Clemente, a Lincoln Park Democrat who was in the restaurant business, said he didn't vote because he had a conflict of interest.
Associated Press reporters David Runk in Detroit, John Flesher in Traverse City and Tim Martin in Lansing contributed to this story.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Link found between infrastructure investments on transportation and increased physical activity

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released a report that links infrastructure investments on transportation and the increase of physical activity in a community. It argues the need for proper walking, biking, and running trails for people to use for traveling to work, school, or extracurricular activities.

You can read the report here>

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thank You to Our Volunteers


Friday, October 30, 2009

The Word is Out....

Yesterday, I joined the Oklahoma State Department of Health in a press conference to discuss the Institute of Medicine report that was released last week that addresses the issue of passing comprehensive smoking laws and how they reduce the risk of heart attacks associated with secondhand smoke.

Below are links to the great media coverage we received in response. The word is out that we are going to be pushing this issue during the 2010 legislative session and we don't plan on backing down. 27 other states have passed comprehensive smoking policies, it's Oklahoma's turn.

Bill could strengthen Oklahoma's smoking ban: Channel 2 in Tulsa

Health officials will try again to ban smoking in bars and restaurants: Tulsa World

Officials To Seek Smoking Ban: Fox 23

Oklahoma activists target smoking loopholes:

Oklahoma officials to seek smoking ban:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

PE in Schools: we are asking lawmakers to beef up PE in schools in order to slim down our children

We all know there is a troubling trend of rising obesity rates across the country. Sadly childhood obesity rates are rising even faster which puts our kids at greater risk for heart disease and stroke. But now we are asking lawmakers to beef up PE in schools in order to slim down our children.

Quality physical education in Oklahoma's schools is an important part of a student's well-rounded education and will promote lifelong health. Efforts made now will help children avoid a lifetime of chronic disease and disability.

As lawmakers prepare for the upcoming legislative session, we need to make sure they see PE as a top priority. Here's what we're asking them to do:

• Increase the physical education requirement in our schools.

• Establish enforcement of the physical education requirement.

• Strengthen the definition of physical education in schools.

Please click on the link above and let lawmakers know that we care about the health of our children. With two clicks of a mouse your message will be sent to your specific lawmakers and key decision makers like the Governor and Lt. Governor.

Oklahoma Newspaper Takes Note of New Smoke-Free Law Study

It's great to see some press coverage of the new Institute of Medicine Report that came out last week. This report outlines evidence that smoke-free laws do, indeed, benefit the heart health of Americans, and further motivates the American Heart Association to continue pressing local officials to enact smoke-free policies.

Read it here.

A little change can go a long way

I'm sure you are all sick of hearing about "change". It was a popular campaign slogan last year and seems to be the topic of conversation everytime you turn on the TV. Well the change I'm writing about has little to do with oil prices or bank bailouts and more to do with the lifestyle decisions you make every day.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the united states, with the two main causes being obesity and smoking. With 65% of Oklahomans being obese, and 24% being smokers it's clear that it's time for some change in our state.

This week the Oklahoman printed an article by David Zizzo where Dr. Jorge Saucedo talk about the extreme need for change in Oklahoma. I've posted the link below and encourage everyone to read it and think about what changes they are giong to make to fight heart disease and stroke.

Remember, You're the Cure!

Change is a ‘must’
By DAVID ZIZZO, Staff Writer
Published: October 3, 2009
Read more:

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

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.

During CPR, more chest compressions mean more saved lives

The chance that a person in cardiac arrest will survive increases when rescuers doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) spend more time giving chest compressions, according to a multi-center study reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

“Chest compressions move blood with oxygen to the heart and the brain to save the brain and prepare the heart to start up its own rhythm when a shock is delivered with a defibrillator,” said Jim Christenson, M.D., lead author of the study and clinical professor of emergency medicine at the University of British Columbia. “We found that even short pauses in chest compressions were quite detrimental.”


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New York study says menu labeling affects behavior

David Morgan David Morgan – Mon Oct 26, 3:57 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New York's mandate that fast-food restaurants post calorie information on their menus has changed consumer habits, the city said on Monday, contradicting a recent independent study showing no effect.

The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released preliminary data showing evidence that people bought food with fewer calories at nine of the 13 fast-food and coffee chains included in a study on the effects of menu-labeling laws that went into effect in 2008.

Researchers surveyed more than 10,000 customers at 275 locations in early 2007 and another 12,000 this year. READ MORE

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IOM Report on Childhood Obesity

In the United States, 16.3 percent of children and adolescents between the ages of two and 19 are obese. The prevalence of obesity is so high that it may reduce the life expectancy of today’s generation of children and diminish the overall quality of their lives. While parents and other adult caregivers play a fundamental role in teaching children about healthy behaviors, those positive efforts can be undermined by local environments that are poorly suited to supporting healthy behaviors—and may even promote unhealthy behaviors. Local governments can play a crucial role in creating environments that make it easier for children to eat healthy diets and move more.

The Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention Actions for Local Governments was convened to identify promising actions that local governments can take to curb obesity among children. The committee sought action steps that are within the jurisdiction of local governments; likely to directly affect children; based on the experience of local governments or sources that work with local governments; take place outside of the school day; and have the potential to promote healthy eating and adequate physical activity. The 2009 report Local Government Actions to Prevent Childhood Obesity presents the committee’s menu of recommended action steps for local government officials to consider in their efforts to prevent childhood obesity in their community.

You can read the report here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New York Menu Labeling Law is Proving to Be Successful

More and more states are exploring the possibility of requiring restaurants to post calorie information on their menu boards. New York was one of the first state's to do this and they are starting to see a change in how people order when eating out.

Calorie counts on menus force hard choices

Published: October 6, 2009
Read more:

Everyone has a story. What's yours?

It's not often that I find someone who doesn't know someone else who has been affected by heart disease or stroke. Almost everyone can name somebody who has died of a heart related illness, or whose life was forever changed due to a stroke. I hate that these disease have to be a part of our daily lives but I love to listen to the stories from survivors or family members. It's these stories that remind me why I get out of bed every morning and drive to work.

In preparation for the upcoming legislative session I want to hear what your story is. I can talk to lawmakers all day about the importance of reducing heart attacks in our state but its stories from constituents that help me push them over the edge and convince them to vote in our favor.

So, what's your story? I would love to hear it.

(You can send your story to Please remember that I may use this story when promoting legislation at the capitol.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oklahoma Needs Your Input on It's Statewide Wellness Plan

Because you care so much about the American Heart Association's mission and the health of all Oklahoman's I am asking you to take a few minutes to voice your opinion on the Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan. Our elected officials need to know that we care about obesity issues and protecting citizens from second-hand smoke.

Input sought on Oklahoma's wellness plan
PROPOSAL: Poor health is ‘like a slow-motion’ disaster, board president says

Published: September 23, 2009

State leaders want Oklahoma residents to help them finalize a plan to improve the state’s health status.

The state Health Department is preparing a comprehensive Oklahoma Health Improvement Plan to submit to the Legislature in late December. Oklahomans can read the draft online and give comments until Oct. 14.

Lawmakers asked health officials to find ways to improve the "physical, social and mental wellbeing of all people in Oklahoma through a high-functioning public health system.” That’s a big job, considering Oklahoma health rankings are "always hovering around the worst in the nation,” said Barry Smith, president of the state Board of Health.

"It’s the most vulnerable populations in Oklahoma that are at the most risk,” he said.
He said Oklahomans respond to natural disasters such as tornados but don’t always rally to protect the health of their fellow citizens.

Poor health is "like a slow-motion disaster,” Smith said.

The health improvement plan addresses children’s health, tobacco use and obesity. It aims to use public health resources more effectively and emphasizes prevention of disease and injury.

"Every single Oklahoman is a stakeholder in this plan,” state Health Commissioner Terry Cline said.

Oklahomans live an average 75.5 years, more than two years less than the national average of 77.7 years, Cline said.

OnlineThe draft health improvement plan can be viewed at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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

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.


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.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Governor Holds Ceremonial Bill Signing for SB745

Yesterday, Governor Brad Henry held a ceremonial bill signing for SB745. Staff and advocates came to the Capitol to witness the signing and get their picture taken with the Governor.

AHA staff at the bill signing with Dr. Mary Ann Bauman and Advocacy Member Tara Proctor.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Play games, save lives!

Now you can play games and play a part in saving lives! When you play free online games such as Solitaire, Gems and Bubble Burst on, they’ll donate money to the American Heart Association!

It’s free and fun! Play today!

How does it work?
Users play games – for free – and generate revenue for nonprofits! Users can select which charities (of the GTG charities listed) to benefit, as well as choose which game they would like to play. As they play, GTG will donate 70% of their supporter revenue (“brought to you by…”).
In short:
· Visit
· Select AHA as the charity you would like to benefit
· Play a game!
· GamesThatGive donates 70% of the revenue from the featured supporter
· The more people play, the more revenue is donated!

Vote for Us!!!

AHA is a nominee for the SXSW panel to discuss ways to become heart healthy through gaming.

Gaming is increasingly merging with health and fitness as a way to engage larger audiences and change social norms and attitudes about being active. The role of social media to augment these experiences is increasing. The panel will explore how gaming, social media and health intersect to carve out new opportunities. Games run across a broad spectrum from fully on-line to on-line/off-line and even fully off-line experiences.

Click the link below and vote for us!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Health Care Reform Means for Prevention

As the health care reform debate continues across the country you might be wondering how it will affect the American Heart Association’s efforts in pushing tobacco control in Oklahoma. Currently there are provisions included that relate to coverage for prevention and cessation services in private and public health insurance plans, as well as funding for prevention programs that could include tobacco.

It’s important that our elected members of Congress understand the importance of such programs. The fight is not over and prevention programs could easily become a sacrifice should Congress seek to reduce the cost of health reform. No matter what side you fall on we can all agree that prevention is key to lowering health costs and reforming our current system.

For updates from AHA on the healthcare reform issue please visit our National YTC blog at:

Bad Economy Isn’t Hurting Oklahoma’s Fight Against Tobacco

State Treasurer Scott Meacham released figures certified by the board of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust last week. The report shows a strong increase in earnings in relation to the trust’s investments. The primary use of these funds is to fight tobacco related issues as well as other health issues in our state.

You can read the AP story here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Obesity remains No. 1 health problem for kids in 2009

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

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.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

AHA In The News

Below are two link to letters to the editor from the American Heart Association's President Dr. Clyde Yancy.

Health-Care Reform Is Within Our Grasp
Clyde W. Yancy, M.D.
Letter to the Editor
The Washington Post
Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Case of Getting What You Pay For (Washington Post, July 26)

'Multiphase approach'
Clyde W. Yancy, M.D.
Letter to the Editor
USA Today
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Obesity a key link to soaring health tab as costs double (USA Today, July 27)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New health chief wants healthy habits for Oklahoma

The Tulsa World is reporting that the new Commissioner of Health for Oklahoma wants to improve the health of individuals by addressing key risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Obesity and tobacco use are the two biggest controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic health problems.

Commissioner Dr. Terry Cline said he would like to see better nutrition, more physical activity, and smoke-free workplaces to combat these diseases. From the article:
"These are constants," said Cline, who was appointed commissioner effective June 30. "These are not issues that are created or solved as problems easily or quickly."

Oklahoma has been engaged in a war on tobacco and has made progress, Cline said. But efforts to reduce tobacco use, including making all restaurants smoke-free, will continue, he said. "
The American Heart Association stands ready to promote policies that will reduce obesity and tobacco use in Oklahoma and applauds Commissioner Cline for making these issues a priority. See the rest of the article here

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Man Saved by an AED Reunites with Flight Crew and Doctor

Back in March Mike Upchurch boarded a plane to Colorado to see his son who had just returned from Iraq. 15 minutes into that flight he suffered a severe heart attack. Luckily for Mr. Upchurch the crew was trained in using an Automated External Diffibulator (AED). The flight crew, along with assistance from Dr. Mary Ann Bauman, quickly went into action and took steps that ultimately saved Mr. Upchurch's life.

Coincidentally Dr. Bauman serves on the American Heart Association Board of Directors. We are incredibly proud of the flight crew and Dr. Bauman for their training and professionalism during that medical emergency.

This past Monday Mr. Upchurch was reunited with the flight crew and Dr. Bauman. He was also suprised with a visit from his son who flew in from Colorado. This is truly an inspirational story and a great example of why we at the American Heart Association work so hard at what we do.

Below is a link to the news story from channel 5 in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma Town Bans Smoking in Public Parks

Another Oklahoma town has taken on the task of banning smoking in their public parks. Norman Oklahoma, a college town with approximately 96,000 residents, has now banned smoking and the use of tobacco products in public parks. Making them the third city in the state with such an ordinance, Owasso and Noble have similar rules.

Members of the Norman City Council unanimously approved the city ordinance on June 23rd. It will take effect on July 23rd.

Councilman Doug Cubberley, who suffers from asthma, has advocated for the tobacco ban in parks for more than two years.

“This is a compromise, but it is a leap forward,” Cubberley said. “Again, it’s not perfect, but what are we going for in this legislation? It’s the public health, and it’s the example that we are teaching our children.”

City officials surveyed residents about the ban and said that 76 percent of those surveyed supported the ban on smoking in the parks.

The American Heart Association applauds the efforts of the Norman City Council and sees this as a small step towards banning smoking in more public areas including all workplaces.

Click here for the Oklahoman article on the ban.

Congress Moves Closer to Increasing Funding for NIH research.

In a July 10 statement, AHA President Clyde Yancy, M.D., commended the a Congressional Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives for approving a 3.1 percent increase ($942 million) in research funding for the National Institutes of Health.

“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


What Moves U Challenge receives health information award


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

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
· Oklahoma ranks 6th most obese at 29.5% for adults.
· The childhood obesity rate is also at 29.5% but that ranks 33 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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Historic Day For Public Health

In an historic moment for public health and tobacco control, President Obama at 2 pm today will sign into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the bill to give the FDA regulatory authority over tobacco products. The signing ceremony will be held in the White House Rose Garden and is scheduled to be carried live on C-Span 3 and CNN.

You can also watch on the web at:

The American Heart Association would like to thank all of their You're the Cure networkers for the phone calls, emails and letters of support. We would not be celebrating this victory if it weren't for you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fox 25 Story On Passage of FDA Bill

Below is a link to local coverage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act. The American Heart Association was well represented in this piece.

A Matter of When

Letters to the editor: Saturday, June 13, 2009

Secondhand smoke can cause harm in many ways. Exposure to secondhand smoke can double the risk of heart disease for nonsmokers and can cause lung cancer and other breathing problems. Each year, more than 440,000 Americans die from smoking-related illnesses. The U.S. surgeon general confirmed in 2006 that no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke exists. Cities, states and countries are going smoke-free with increasing frequency.

It’s time for Oklahoma to clear the air and provide every citizen the opportunity to breathe smoke-free air. The majority of Oklahoma legislators support smoke-free workplaces, but a few key lawmakers blocked opportunities to pass a bill in both houses of the Legislature. It’s time for all lawmakers to join this important effort. After all, 68 percent of Oklahomans polled said they want a smoke-free state — and thousands of Oklahomans may die or become ill from secondhand smoke exposure before this legislation is passed.

Twenty-seven states have passed smoke-free laws; about 10 others are considering it. It’s becoming more evident that it’s not a matter of if Oklahoma will become a 100 percent smoke-free state but when it will happen.

During this interim legislative cycle, ask your representatives in the Legislature to support smoke-free legislation. All Oklahomans deserve the right to breathe smoke-free air.

Ann Bauman, M.D.,
Oklahoma City

Bauman is medical director for women’s health and community relations for

Friday, June 12, 2009

Congress Makes History This Week! Citizens Win!!

The US House and US Senate made history this week by passing the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act. This bill would give the FDA the power to regulate tobacco companies and requires those companies to provide a list of ingredients for their products. It also puts more stringent restrictions on how tobacco companies can market their products.

You can see how your senator voted here and how your representative voted here.

Read AHA CEO Nancy Brown's statement on today's historic passage.

Congress Sends FDA Tobacco Bill to Obama
June 12, 2009
The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON -- A bill allowing the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco is on the way to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature.

A day after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure, the House passed it Friday on a 307-97 vote.

Mr. Obama said the legislation gives the government much greater power to regulate tobacco "truly defines change in Washington." The president spoke in the Rose Garden Friday and promised to sign the bill.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that her agency looked forward to implementing it.

The FDA now will take on an unprecedented role overseeing the production and marketing of cigarettes. Health advocates are happy about the prospect, saying at long last regulators can determine exactly the types of toxins involved in making and smoking cigarettes.

Some FDA watchers and people in the tobacco industry say the new responsibilities will be too heavy a lift for the agency and will harm small tobacco farms.

"Allowing the FDA to regulate tobacco in any capacity would inevitably lead to the FDA regulating the family farm," said Rep. Howard Coble (R., N.C.), during the House debate. "This could create uncertainty for family farmers as they are already struggling."

Many North Carolina elected officials have protested the legislation, arguing that it would hurt jobs in their state. Reynolds American Inc. and Lorillard Inc., the second- and third-largest tobacco companies in the U.S., are based in North Carolina.

But the No. 1 U.S. tobacco producer, Altria Group, Inc., the parent company of Philip Morris USA, has given its stamp of approval to the measure.

Critics, including Lorillard, say Altria supports FDA regulation because new rules could solidify the company's dominance in the market. Altria spokesman William Phelps said previous regulations on cigarettes haven't stifled the tobacco market.

Health advocates aren't concerned about the solvency of tobacco companies. "As long as players in the industry are fighting over market share, all that we care about is that they're fighting over a shrinking market," said Gregg Haifley, senior associate for federal relations at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

After the bill becomes law, tobacco-product manufacturers must register with the FDA and provide a detailed product list. They also must pay user fees to cover the cost of the new regulation.

The FDA can evaluate health claims made by cigarette makers and require companies to change their tobacco products. Packets of cigarettes will have larger and more strongly worded warning labels. There will be strict controls on advertising, stopping use of the terms "mild" and "low tar."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dr. Bauman addresses cigarette tax increases

This is a little delayed but I wanted to share a video from News 9 in Oklahoma City of Dr. Mary Ann Bauman addressing increases in cigarette taxes. Dr. Bauman is a member of the South Central Affiliate board and a valued supporter of the American Heart Association.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Another Oklahoma Community has Banned Smoking in Public Parks

Norman plans to halt smoking in its city parks

June 25, 2009

NORMAN — Smokers beware: Norman officials are kicking your butts out of their parks.

The city council unanimously passed an ordinance Tuesday to ban smoking and the use of tobacco products in public parks. The prohibition takes effect July 23.

Norman is the state’s third city to ban smoking in parks. Owasso and Noble have similar rules.

Councilman Doug Cubberley, an asthma sufferer, said he quit going to public events in parks several years ago because smoke would precipitate an asthma attack.

Parks Director Jud Foster said butts left on the ground in parks, besides being unsightly, pose a danger to small children who might put them in their mouths.

Asked whether Oklahoma City has considered a similar tobacco ban, parks department spokeswoman Jennifer Lindsey-McClintock said: "We have looked at it but no decision has been made. It’s not anything we are currently pursuing. It would be terribly difficult to enforce.”

Travis Humphrey, Cleveland County Tobacco-Free Coalition chairman, hailed Norman’s action, calling it "a big leap as a city. This is protecting future generations.”

The ordinance exempts parking lots and Westwood Golf Course. Assistant City Attorney Leah Bunny said officials thought smoke on a golf course was less likely to affect other people.

Resident Sylvia Martin said she opposed the ban not because she is a smoker, "but because there is too much government regulation as it is. At some point, people have to take responsibility for themselves.”

2009 Session Wrap Up

This year's legislative session was an interesting and productive one for the American Heart Association. We started off the session with a new Government Relations Director whose first day was also the first day of session.

She went to work immediately on our AED good samaritan legislation, smoke free Oklahoma, and the D.I.N.E. taskforce. It was obvious from the start that this session would yield positive things for AHA.

Our first large victory came on April 20th when Governor Henry signed into law SB745 which provides immunity to anyone who, no matter their training, uses an AED. We did not get as lucky with our smoke free Oklahoma or D.I.N.E. bill but we made great progress and used this session to educate lawmakers on these two issues. Our hope is that we can come back next year and successfully pass both pieces of legislation.

Below are some other AHA victories this session:
· Stopped legislation that would have created a ballot initiative to take TSET money and give it to adult stem cell research. Early this session, HJR 1035 was filed calling for a vote of the people to amend the Oklahoma Constitution taking away 10% of the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust earnings (master settlement funds) and diverting it for “adult” stem cell research. If the legislation passed and with an affirmative vote of the people to amend the Constitution it would have permanently appropriated 10% of the earnings to stem cell research eliminating funding for current tobacco control, fitness, and nutrition programs, as well as set precedence for other groups to raid the trust fund. This bill moved all session with great momentum and it appeared as if it could not be stopped. As of last week, the conferees denied all amendments to HJR1035 which essentially kills the bill. The issue will not be on the ballot this November and TSET’s funds are protected so they can be used for their original intention.
· Passed HB1678: This bill spells out a more detailed and expansive list (37 in total) of those medical professionals who are provided immunity under the Volunteer Medical Professional Services Act. This bill also provides immunity under this Act to persons participating in the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps who are assisting in disaster drills and community service events endorsed by a government entity.
· Passed SB399: This bill designates the Oklahoma Department of Transportation as the agency to implement the Safe Routes to Schools program. The Director is authorized to form a Safe Routes to School advisory committee, and, in consultation with the Safe Routes to Schools Advisory Committee, must establish safe routes to schools program to assist communities in identifying and reducing barriers and hazards to children walking or bicycling to and from school. It also creates a revolving fund in the State Treasury to pay for expenses.
· Passed SB1166: This bill creates regional emergency 911 districts to more efficiently provide services to the citizens of Oklahoma.
· Passed SB757: This bill creates the Oklahoma Health Information Infrastructure advisory board. The purpose of this board is to monitor and study barriers to the adoption of health information systems.
· Passed SB608: This bill will not only crack down on the retail-to-retail sales, but it will require the Creek nation to now pay 100% of the current tax rate to the state, except for on those sold to tribal members. Instead of giving noncompacting tribes the easy route of just paying 75%, this will make them pay 100% and then justify any legal tax-free sales to tribal members.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Oklahoma Legislature Goes Red For Women

The week of May 4th was proclaimed “Oklahoma Go Red for Women Week”. In honor of this week, Oklahoma State Legislators will wear red and don “Red Dress pins” to show their support for Women who have been touched by heart disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association's Go Red For Women campaign is designed to empower women with the knowledge and tools they need to make positive lifestyle changes that will help reduce their risk of heart disease.

Below are pictures from Wear Red For Women Day at the Oklahoma Capitol.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

AHA Advocates Storm Capitol Hill


This week the American Heart Association organized their annual Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. Marilyn Davidson, AHA Gov. Relations Dir., and Kelli Lynch, AHA volunteer, traveled to DC to meet with members of the Oklahoma delegation. Their focus during these meetings was to encourage the members to support increased funding for the NIH and CDC, as well as ask for thier support for quality health care reform.

They were joined by 600 other advocates from around the state. The women visited with members of Sen. Tom Coburn and Rep. Mary Fallin's staff, but got to speak personally with Senator Jim Inhofe.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wanna Win an Ipod and Help Save Lives?!

Wanna win this cool new You're the Cure Ipod shuffle?

Join us this Saturday, April 18th at the OKC Start! Heart Walk. While you are there stop by the advocacy table and sign up with You're the Cure, a network of people dedicated to finding cures for heart disease and stroke by contacting elected officials on behalf of the American Heart Association.

One lucky person will win this cool Ipod shuffle and another will win a $25 Itunes gift card.

We want to thank Eric Dawson with Apple for donating the Ipod and Daniel Gordan with Samuel Gordon jewelers for doing the engraving. We really appreciate your support!!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

"Good Sam" is Passed by House!

Today the Oklahoma House passed a bill that will make it easy for all individuals to use an AED if they see someone suffering a heart attack. The so called "Good Samaritan" bill will remove liability from people who use an Automated External Defibrillator. It was passed 98-0!

We want to encourage everyone to use an AED if they feel someone’s life is in jeopardy from heart failure. Current AEDs are so easy to use that no expert training is required. This bill has already been passed by the Senate and will now head to the Governor’s desk for approval. Thanks to all the You're the Cure advocates who took action on this issue.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Putnam School Board to Purchase 78 AEDs!

The Putnam School Board voted to to buy 78 Automated External Defibrillators at a recent meeting. An Excerpt from their newsletter:

The board on Monday night approved the use of $123,810 in MAPS for Kids fundsfor purchase of 78 automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

An AED is a portable device used to restore normal heart rhythm to patients incardiac arrest. It automatically analyzes the patient’s heart rhythm and provides a shockif one is needed to restore a normal heartbeat.

While Putnam City has 27 schools, the district is seeking to purchase 78 AEDs sothat larger schools will have several AEDs. By putting AEDs in different parts of largeschool, an AED will always be close by should it be needed. There will also beadditional AEDs that can travel with teams and groups attending off-campus events.

An Oklahoma law passed in April 2008 requires that every school have AEDs if federal funds or donations from private organizations make it possible. Whilea few district schools have received AEDS through donation, the district wishesto use MAPS for Kids funds to purchase adequate numbers of AEDs for every schoolin the district.

The AEDs will be the same brand and model so that training andreplacement of batteries and supplies can be standard throughout the district.

Smoke-Free Task Force Passes Committee

A bill that will create a "Smoke-Free" task force passed out of a House committee yesterday afternoon. This measure will allow the state to study smoke-free air laws and their benefits.

Secondhand smoke is a major risk factor for heart disease and kills 53,000 non-smoking Americans a year. A recent U.S. Surgeon General's report concluded that there is no risk free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that secondhand smoke has an immediate and adverse effect on the cardiovascular system. The study went on to say that separate seating areas and air ventilation systems cannot eliminate the health threat, and that smoke free environments are the only protection against the harmful effects of secondhand smoke

Thursday, April 2, 2009

FDA Tobacco Bill Passes the US House

Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 298-112 to allow the FDA to regulate the tobacco industry. You can read the AP story here.

You can view the roll call on the final vote here. I want to encourage all You're the Cure advocates to take the time to thank their Representative if they voted in favor of this bill.

Below is the statement from the American Heart Association's CEO, Nancy Brown.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that has been a high priority of the American Heart Association for many years. By a vote of 298-112, the House approved the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (“FDA tobacco bill”). This bill gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate the manufacture, marketing and advertising of tobacco products. Its passage is a great victory for AHA and our volunteers across the country who, together with our friends at the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, has been working tirelessly to urge members of Congress to pass this landmark public health legislation.

The bill will fundamentally curtail Big Tobacco’s ability to target kids -- including banning candy flavored cigarettes; restricting advertising in convenience stores and in magazines widely read by youth; banning advertising near schools; and providing stronger regulation prohibiting sales to minors. Further, it will mandate large, meaningful warning labels, ban misleading terms such as “light” and “low,” and allow the FDA to review health claims made by manufacturers. The bill also provides the FDA with the authority to require manufacturers to remove dangerous additives in cigarettes, and prevents tobacco companies from spiking nicotine levels. Each day, about 3,500 children smoke their first cigarette and this legislation will help reduce youth smoking and smoking-related illnesses. We all know too well the human and economic toll of tobacco – tobacco-related cardiovascular disease alone claims around 150,000 lives every year.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act enjoys broad support by the public health community, the Administration and the public. Over 1,000 groups in Washington, DC and across the country have joined the AHA and others in supporting the bill. In advance of today’s vote, President Obama released an official White House statement expressing support for the bill. HHS Secretary Nominee Kathleen Sebelius also expressed her support for the FDA bill at her Senate confirmation hearing earlier this week. The legislation has been endorsed by former HHS Secretaries Donna Shalala and Tommy Thompson; former Surgeons General Richard Carmona and David Satcher; former FDA Commissioner David Kessler and, former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Julie Gerberding. Polling has consistently demonstrated broad public support for the bill regardless of favored political party, political philosophy or geographic region.

I want to personally express my thanks and congratulations to our AHA volunteers and staff who have been working literally for years to provide the FDA with this long-overdue clear authority to regulate tobacco products. I’d also like to extend a special thanks to my predecessor Cass Wheeler, who was a passionate leader in tobacco control for many years and to our close colleagues at the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

And while it is reassuring to see this strong support coming out of the House, our attention now must turn to the U.S. Senate where we expect the bill to be re-introduced by Senator Kennedy (D-MA) in the near future. We are bolstered by the fact that last year we had 60 Senate sponsors of the bill, including Majority Leader Reid. So while there has been some turnover in the Senate since then, we believe that there is still very strong support for the legislation and we look forward to working with our Senate champions to move the bill to the President’s desk.

With today’s vote, we have made a significant step toward passage of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which will have a dramatic impact on saving lives and advancing the mission of the American Heart Association. Please check out this AHA mention in the AP story attached.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

SB745-AED Good Samaritan passes House Judiciary

Yesterday afternoon SB745 passed the Oklahoma House of Represenatives Judiciary committee meeting 10-0. It will now go to the full House for a vote. Click here and tell your House member to vote YES!

Senate Bill 745 which would amend the current Good Samaritan law to allow for immunity of anyone who, in good faith, uses an AED on another person. By the passing Senate Bill 745, this will encourage Oklahomans to use AEDs and would reduce the number of cardiovascular deaths in our state.

It’s important to know that the new generations of AEDs require minimal training to use. They automatically diagnose the heart rhythm and determine if a shock is needed and prevent the user from overriding a "no shock" advisory. Their ease of use is increased by an electronic voice to prompt users through each step; all AEDs approved for use in the United States use a voice prompt.

You don’t have to be a hero to save a life, just someone who will pick up an AED and listen to the instructions. If you would like to take action on this or other legislation being supported by the American Heart Association please visit and sign up today.

Click HERE to view a demonstration on how easy it is to use an AED.

Friday, March 27, 2009

American Heart Association supports lower sodium limits for most Americans

DALLAS, March 26 – New data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides additional scientific evidence that the majority of Americans over the age of twenty should limit the amount of sodium (salt) they consume daily to 1,500 milligrams (mg) to prevent and reduce high blood pressure. The new data are published in the March 26, 2009 issue of the CDC’s Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.

“In light of new data from the CDC, which show that 69 percent of adults are salt sensitive, the need to reduce sodium consumption has become an even higher priority for our country’s health,” said Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and professor of Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

“The American Heart Association recommends that most people strive to lower the amount of sodium consumed daily to less than 1,500 mg, to prevent or manage high blood pressure, a major but modifiable risk factor for heart attack and stroke,” Van Horn said. “The new CDC data adds to a growing body of scientific evidence that supports this recommendation – there are now a substantial number of scientific studies that show a direct relationship between salt intake and a rise in blood pressure. An upper limit of no more than 1,500 mg could significantly reduce the rate of high blood pressure in the United States.”

The U.S. food supply contains excessive amounts of sodium (salt), which makes limiting sodium (salt) consumption to less than 1,500 mg difficult. According to the CDC report, Americans over the age of 2 consumed a daily average of 3,436 mg between 2005-2006, up from a daily average of 3,329 mg from 2001-2002.

In recognition of this fact, the American Heart Association is currently working with federal agencies to identify strategies to reduce the amount of sodium in the food supply and is encouraging food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the sodium (salt) added to food by 50 percent over the next ten years.

In 2006, the American Heart Association acknowledged that a daily upper limit of no more than 1,500 mg is a good therapeutic goal to strive for to prevent and treat high blood pressure, but also suggested an interim goal of no more than 2,300 mg a day of sodium because the current food supply makes it difficult to achieve the lower number.

“The American Heart Association will continue to explore ways to help reduce the sodium content in our food supply,” Van Horn said. “In the meantime, we urge all Americans to reduce the amount of sodium they consume, preferably to no more than 1,500 mg daily. It may be difficult, but adhering to this goal could significantly reduce blood pressure levels in the United States.”

High salt diets have been linked to an increase in blood pressure and an increased risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases including heart disease and stroke.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

American Heart Association Sweethearts spend a day at the state capitol

Each year the American Heart Association chooses 40 Oklahoma High School women to serve as American Heart Association Sweethearts. The Sweetheart Program of the American Heart Association provides educational and social activities for the young women as it grooms them as advocates for heart health. The girls spend a year participating in several activities like a CPR and AED Training to a Health and Fitness Day.

One of these activities includes spending a day at the capitol learning about the legislative process and advocating for AHA issues. This year the girls were given the chance to visit their State Senators and educate them on SB 1135 which creates the Dining Information and Nutrition Education taskforce. Each girl met one on one with a Senator or their staff expressing the importance of providing the public with nutritional education when they dine out.

Sweethearts sitting in the House gallery waiting to be introduced.

Waiting for the Governor in the Blue Room.

Group picture with Lt. Governor Jari Askins

Picture with Governor Brad Henry

Representative Ann Coody talks to the girls about life as an elected official

The girls visiting the elected official's offices

South Dakota’s New Smoke-Free Law Is Historic Win for Health

South Dakota’s New Smoke-Free Law Is Historic Win for Health

Statement of Matthew L. Myers
President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Washington, DC (March 19, 2008) – All South Dakota workplaces, including restaurants and bars, will be smoke-free beginning July 1, thanks to legislation approved by the Legislature last week and signed into law today by Governor Mike Rounds. Governor Rounds and the Legislature have delivered a historic victory for public health and protected the right of all South Dakotans to breathe clean air.

As the 25th state to pass a strong smoke-free law that includes restaurants and bars, South Dakota adds to the growing momentum across the country and around the world to protect all workers and the public from the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. No one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out. We congratulate the legislators, organizations and businesses that have championed this critical public health measure, including Senators Dave Knudson, and Scott Heidepriem, and Representatives Bob Faehn and Bernie Hunhoff.

South Dakota joins 24 other states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico in passing smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. The states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana (extends to bars Oct. 1, 2009), Nebraska (June 1, 2009), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington. A growing number of countries have also passed nationwide smoke-free laws, including Bermuda, Bhutan, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom and Uruguay.

The need for protection from secondhand smoke in all workplaces and public places has never been clearer. In issuing a groundbreaking report on secondhand smoke in June 2006, U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona stated, “The debate is over. The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance, but a serious health hazard that causes premature death and disease in children and nonsmoking adults.” Secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, including at least 69 carcinogens. The Surgeon General found that secondhand smoke is a proven cause of lung cancer, heart disease, serious respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and asthma, low birth weight and sudden infant death syndrome. The Surgeon General also found that secondhand smoke is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths in the United States each year, there is no safe level of exposure, and only smoke-free laws provide effective protection from secondhand smoke.

The evidence is also clear that smoke-free laws protect health without harming business. As the Surgeon General concluded, “Evidence from peer-reviewed studies shows that smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse impact on the hospitality industry.”

It’s time for every state and community to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Smoke-free laws in Oklahoma

Carter Headrick, State Advocacy Consultant, with the American Heart Association recently visited with several Oklahoma lawmakers about smoke-free legislation and what Oklahoma can expect when passing Smoke-Free laws.

Currently, SB1036 by Senator Myers is awaiting a House committee hearing and would create a taskforce to study making all Oklahoma bars and restaurants 100% smoke-free.

Here is a link to a short clip from his talk.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

OKC AHA Board Member Uses and AED to Save a Life

This past Friday while traveling to Denver an AHA board member and OKC physician was called to the aid of a passenger who was suffering a cardiac arrest. She responded by using her medical training and the plane's AED to save the man's life. You can read the full story here.

It's stories like these that remind me why I get out of bed every morning. Right now the AHA is working hard to pass Senate Bill 745 which would provide immunity to anyone who uses an AED in an attempt to save a person's life.

As you may know, AEDs are extremely important because:

  • If an AED is used within three minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest, the victim has an 80 percent chance of survival.
  • Every minute that passes before returning the heart to a normal rhythm after a cardiac arrest causes the chance of survival to fall by 10 percent.
  • Each year, more than 250,000 people suffer cardiac arrest, usually away from a hospital. More than 95 percent of them will die, in many cases because defibrillation occurs too late to reverse the cardiac arrest.
  • The new generations of AED's require minimal training to use. They automatically diagnose the heart rhythm, determine if a shock is needed, and prevent the user from overriding a "no shock" advisory. Their ease of use is increased by an electronic voice to prompt users through each step; all AED's approved for use in the United States use a voice prompt.
Without legislation we fear that individuals will hesitate before using an AED and those few seconds could mean life or death for the person needing care.

Would like to find out how you can show your support for this important piece of legislation? Then sign up for our You're The Cure network here.

Menu Labeling Bill Gets Media Attention

Here is a story from on the Menu Labeling bill that passed the Senate yesterday.

Published: 3/10/2009 2:26 AM
Last Modified: 3/10/2009 4:38 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY — The state Senate passed a bill Monday to create a task force to determine whether restaurant menus should include calories, fat grams and other nutritional information.

Senate Bill 1135 passed 37-8. It now goes to the House.

The bill, filed by Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, would create a 15-member task force to study whether putting nutritional information on the menu would help diners make healthier choices.

The task force would be made up of two members from the Senate as well as advocates from health associations and a member from the Oklahoma Restaurant Association.

"We're trying to give people the information and let them make healthier choices," Bass said.

Opponents said requiring restaurants to put nutritional information on all the food they serve could cost too much for smaller restaurants.

The Oklahoma Restaurant Association has said it could cost as much as $5,000 per menu item tested.

Bass said the association opposes the bill. Officials with the association did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

The task force would make recommendations that would be reviewed by the Legislature, Bass said. The provision could apply to restaurants that have more than 15 locations in the state. Many chain restaurants already publish nutritional information online or in pamphlets.

Oklahoma consistently has been ranked in the top 10 states for obesity.

Monday, March 9, 2009

DINE Taskforce Passes Senate!

Breaking News: The Oklahoma Senate has just passed the DINE Taskforce bill by a vote of 37-8. DINE stands for Dining Information and Nutrition Education and the bill would create a taskforce that would study issues like menu labeling. Thanks to all the You’re the Cure advocates who contacted their Senator on this issue!

Menu labeling could put nutritional information like calories and fat content directly on the menus at restaurants. This would make it easy to compare a cheeseburger with a chicken sandwich or a salad with a bowl of soup. Creating a taskforce is the first step towards menu labeling in Oklahoma.

The bill (SB 1135) will now head to the Oklahoma House. Stay tuned for more information on how you can help it pass through the House and land on the Governor’s desk.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Become an AHA advocate today

Do you want to be a You're the Cure advocate? Visit this link and sign up today. You will receive notices of when important legislation is being heard at the capitol and even be given the chance to contact your state representative or senator.

Remember when it comes to heart disease and stroke....You're the Cure!

March is National Nutrition Month

Now is a good time to make heart-healthy changes to your diet. It's important to focus on your overall eating pattern. The American Heart Association's Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations provide an easy way for you to understand what you should eat and how much physical activity you need to maintain good health.

Click here for more nutritional tips.

Also, if you are constantly on the go like most Oklahomans. Here is a great article on America's Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Smoke Free Oklahoma Lobby Day

Debbie Hite, Metro Heart Association Director, visits with volunteers during Smoke Free OK Lobby Day.

This past week the American Heart Association participated in Smoke Free Oklahoma Lobby Day. Along with the American Cancer Society and the Lung Association, volunteers lobbyed their state legisltors on behalf of legislation that would make all public places smoke free.

A recent poll, done by Wilson Strategies, was conducted on January 24-25, 2009 in Oklahoma. This poll shows:
*68% of voters believe the rights of customers and employees to breathe clean air is more important than the rights of smokers to smoke and owners to allow smoking.
*59% of Oklahomans SUPPORT a smoke-free environment for Oklahoma workers and families
*52% of voters say they are more likely to vote to re-elect their state legislator if that legislator supports a smoke-free law
*94% of Oklahomans believe secondhand smoke is a health hazard – 59% say it is a “serious” health hazard, 22% say it is a “moderate” health hazard
*Smoke-free laws will increase business - - 18% of those surveyed say they would go out MORE OFTEN if restaurants and bars were smoke-free

Do you have a personal story re: secondhand smoke? I would love to hear it!



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