Yesterday was a day of immense excitement and great progress as wonderful health advocates and members of the American Heart Association met with legislators to discuss three important concerns:
- Newborn Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Screening: Briefing by Representative Marcus Riccelli, Sponsor HB 1285
- Safe Routes to School: Briefing by Vic Colman, Executive Director, Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition
- Tobacco Prevention Funding: Briefing by Paul Davis, Manager, Tobacco Prevention and Control, WA Department of Health
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the U.S and the leading killer of infants with birth defects. Pulse oximetry is a quick, painless, non-intrusive, and inexpensive screening procedure which allows hospitals to detect more than 90% of heart defects in newborns before the infant is even discharged. Many hospitals already have mandatory policies to perform these screenings in over 30 states, but it is not yet a requirement in Washington State and that is what we are fighting for. Heart defects affect 1 in every 100 babies and so we believe that all hospitals really should be required to perform Pulse Ox.
Safe Routes To School:
In 1969, 50% of children walked or biked to school, compared to just 13% of today. Nearly 25% of all morning traffic is comprised of parents driving their kids to school. This is an important problem because the childhood obesity rate is increasing drastically due to lack of physical activity. 1 in 4 young people are overweight which leads not only to a child’s physical health, but also their emotional wellbeing. Physically active students statistically tend to have higher academic performance and healthier self-esteem, both of which are critical to the future of our society and generations to come. For these reasons we are seeking sustainable funding that will enable the re-engineering of our communities with a focus on providing infrastructure that better supports safe pedestrian travel.
Tobacco Prevention Funding:
More than 1 in 6 adults in Washington State still use tobacco and it remains the number one cause of preventable death. Tobacco can cause cancer, heart disease, and stroke; but that fact alone is not enough to deter some people from becoming addicted. Some communities have higher tobacco retailer density, and are disproportionately targeted by tobacco industry marketing. To make matters worse, 9 out of 10 adult smokers started at a younger age and were addicted by the age of 18. A major factor that influences the reason why people smoke is the fact that the tobacco industry spends a million dollars every hour on marketing. Considering that heart disease accounts for 1/4 of the deaths in Washington State, we believe that it’s vital that more measures are taken to significantly reduce or eliminate the use of the tobacco. Our advocates fought for more funding for a comprehensive state tobacco prevention and cessation program for our state.
Even if you missed the Lobby Day event, we would still appreciate your support by getting involved with our “Take Action” resource at the following url: https://yourethecure.org/aha/advocacy/actioncenter.aspx