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


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