Voters prioritize policies to prevent, treat cardiovascular disease

November 07, 2018 Categories: Advocacy News

DALLAS – November 7, 2018 – The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, is celebrating Election Day victories in states across the country that approved ballot measures to broaden access to lifesaving health care, empower communities to improve public health and reduce tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke.

“Voters in states nationwide made it abundantly clear that preventing cardiovascular disease and promoting public health were top election priorities,” said Nancy Brown, chief executive officer of the American Heart Association. “These wins for public health are thanks to grassroots advocates across the country who worked tirelessly to amplify the message that evidence-based public policies can save lives and improve health and well-being.”

“Regrettably, tobacco and sugary drink companies used massive campaign spending to beat back evidence-based public health policies in Montana, South Dakota and Washington,” Brown said. “We will continue to counter industry spending with scientific facts in support of public policies that improve health and save lives.”

Following are statements from Brown about priority policy areas addressed in ballot initiatives yesterday:

Medicaid expansion (Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Utah)

“Election Day was a resounding victory for the efforts of public health advocates in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah to make quality health care available to working families through Medicaid. An estimated 300,000 people in these states now have the security of knowing they will have access to critical care in case of disease or injury, and to preventive care to keep them and their families healthy.

“In Montana, the tobacco industry waged a misleading, $17.5 million campaign – spending more than $17 per resident – to defeat a tobacco tax increase that would have enabled an estimated 90,000 residents to keep their health care. Big Tobacco’s endless thirst for profits and its need to addict a new generation of users overwhelmed the efforts of public health advocates to create a healthier, more prosperous future for the people of Montana.

“Uninsured and underinsured people with heart disease and stroke experience higher mortality rates, poorer blood pressure control, greater neurological impairments and longer hospital stays after a stroke. In addition, higher numbers of the uninsured raise costs for everyone in the health care system.

“We continue to urge states that have not yet expanded Medicaid coverage to take advantage of available federal funding to ensure their most vulnerable citizens can access needed care to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

Preemption of community public health efforts (Oregon, Washington)

“Oregon voters beat back industry efforts to weaken the ability of local governments to protect the health of their communities. Despite the misleading messages of grocery and sugary drink companies, voters rejected Measure 103, choosing the value of local control over protecting corporate profits. The results in Oregon reflect strong public support for debating potential corporate, product or sales taxes at the state and local levels.

“In Washington, the beverage industry followed Big Tobacco’s playbook in spending more than $20 million to spread a false narrative that resulted in the passage of I-1634.”

Tobacco control (Florida, Montana, South Dakota)

“In a big victory for the health of children and adults, Florida voters moved to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in all workplaces where smoking is already prohibited, including restaurants and shopping malls. The passage of Amendment 9 means children, workers and others will be protected from increased levels of airborne concentrations of particulate matter and nicotine caused by e-cigarette use.

“The tobacco industry unfortunately succeeded in multi-million-dollar efforts in Montana and South Dakota to defeat tobacco tax increases that would have saved lives from tobacco use. Big Tobacco’s massive spending misled voters about the efforts of the public health community to drive down smoking rates, save lives and reduce health care spending on smoking-related disease.”

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About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For media inquiries please contact:
Steve Weiss -- 202-785-7905; steve.weiss@heart.org