It is no coincidence we celebrate American Heart Month in February, alongside Valentine’s Day. The American Heart Association is busy working with lawmakers in efforts to shape policies that will prevent cardiovascular disease and save lives in Florida.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Florida, killing more than 42,390 people annually. The American Heart Association is working to reverse these alarming statistics. These heart-related policies are still beating at the Florida Capitol:
The Tobacco 21 Act
Expected to be workshopped today, the Tobacco 21 Act, SB 1288 by Sen. David Simmons and HB 1029 by Reps. Lori Berman and Bill Hager, would increase the minimum legal sale age for tobacco and electronic smoking devices from 18 to 21, reducing Florida youths' access to, and use of, these addictive products. The 18-to-21 age range is a critical time when many smokers transition to daily smoking -- 95 percent of smokers began their addiction before age 21. SB 1288 is scheduled to be workshopped at 4 p.m. in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.
Opposing Proposal 94
Joining with several prominent public health organizations, the American Heart Association will continue to voice its opposition to Proposal 94 at upcoming Constitutional Review Commission hearings. The goal is to protect funding for Tobacco Free Florida (TFF), the proven tobacco prevention and cessation program that’s helped reduce youth smoking rates by more than 70 percent since its inception in 2006. TFF has also saved Florida billions in health care costs and helped lower the adult smoking rate from 21 percent in 2006 to less than 16 percent in 2015, without the use of taxpayer money.
Establishing a Statewide 'STEMI' Registry
The American Heart Association supports the creation of a statewide registry to diminish the frequency and cost of STEMI heart attacks in Florida. ST- elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is a type of heart attack that is so deadly, many refer to it as the “widow-maker.” The registry will serve to collect emergency response and treatment data allowing researchers to find new ways to save lives and improve patient care.
Allison Aubuchon is president of Allison Aubuchon Communications, LLC.