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.

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