Election Shows Voters Choose Public Health

Comment from Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO

November 09, 2016 Categories: Advisories & Comments, Heart News

DALLAS, Nov. 9, 2016 — The American Heart Association is dedicated to ensuring all Americans have access to health in every part of their daily lives. This election, we supported 23 ballot initiatives across the country and millions agreed, casting their votes in favor of better health for all, 15 of which have been declared successful so far. Three states sought to reduce tobacco use and four cities sought to reduce consumption of sugary drinks through targeted taxes. Advocates also supported initiatives to ensure 16 communities have funding designated to build safe places to walk, bike and wheelchair roll.

Nancy Brown, American Heart Association CEO, provided the following comments on the results across these communities.

“I am inspired by the tireless efforts of advocates coming together in communities all across the nation to improve complex health problems with solutions that work. To address a public health crisis, we must fund public health programs. Taxes placed strategically on harmful products, such as tobacco and sugary drinks, help reduce their use and consumption. Given the choice, we believe voters will choose health. We are proud to stand by each advocate today helping their communities choose longer and more productive lives.

Voters of San Francisco, Oakland and Albany, California, as well as Boulder, Colorado, delivered a big win on sugary drinks for the health of their community. And a big win for the nation by continuing to demonstrate that cities and citizens have the power to initiate positive change. We applaud voters for rejecting the big spending and false arguments of outsiders and standing up for what they knew was right for their community. From sports drinks to sodas to fruit-flavored drinks, today’s children are drinking their age in these sugary drinks each week. Reducing consumption will improve rates of diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay.

Voters across the state of California won out against Big Tobacco. Our nation has made great strides in cutting smoking rates to improve health, but each day we still have too many young people starting down the path of addiction that could end their life prematurely. One of the best ways to protect children’s health is to prevent them from getting hooked on tobacco. In every state that has significantly raised cigarette taxes, smoking rates have gone down, especially among youth. The evidence is clear that taxing tobacco saves lives by getting people to quit or never start this deadly and costly habit. Additionally, a portion of the revenue from the taxes in California will significantly increase funding for their state tobacco prevention and cessation programs, which will drive down tobacco use even more.

Voters in ten states and localities cast their ballots in favor of getting active every day in and around their great cities, including Los Angeles and Santa Cruz, California; Atlanta and Fulton County, Georgia; Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina; Clark County, Nevada; Austin, Texas; as well as the states of Maine and Rhode Island. New and renewed investments in roads, protected bike lanes, and sidewalks that can accommodate all users will help the young and old, the commuters to work and children headed to school, better meet their goals for an hour a day of active play or exercise. People – including caregivers with strollers, people with disabilities, children, and older adults – need sidewalks and crosswalks to feel safe. We know physical activity increases and there are fewer crashes involving people who are walking when streets have sidewalks.         

Investing in heart health while preventing injuries, addiction and chronic diseases is a win-win for every city and state. Taken together, these measures are important steps toward creating an environment full of healthy choices for all people. The American Heart Association stands with leaders striving for heart-healthy communities and applauds the voters who took a stand for the sake of their hearts and families this election.”

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – two of the leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is one of the world’s oldest and largest voluntary organizations dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.heart.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

For Media Inquiries: (214) 706-1173

Suzette Harris (214) 706-1207; suzette.harris@heart.org

Julie Del Barto (broadcast): (214) 706-1330; julie.delbarto@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: (800)-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and strokeassociation.org