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An update on the 2017 legislative session

At the midway point of the 2017 Hawaii State Legislative Session, several bills supported by the AHA remain alive, and several priority bills have failed to move forward.

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CPR in Schools:
Our bill to add CPR training to the Hawaii public high school health curriculum has died for the year. The bill passed out of the Senate Education Committee unopposed, but failed to receive a hearing in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of that committee, stated that, despite Hawaii Department testimony supporting the bill, she felt that school policy issues should be determined by the State Board of Education (BOE). The AHA will discuss with BOE representatives adding CPR to health classes (which are already required for high school graduation).

Stroke Awareness:
This year the AHA also supported legislation to provide $250,000 of funding to the State Department of Health for distribution as community grants for community stroke awareness. Stroke patient data collected from Hawaii hospitals indicate that almost half of stroke patients arrive at a hospital via personal transportation versus calling 9-1-1 which results in significant treatment delays. Each minute of delay results in the loss of 2 million brain cells which can mean the difference between having a good health outcome or suffering permanent disability. Also, one-third of patients delay being transported to a hospital by at least 24 hours. The window for treatment using lifesaving stroke clot-busting medication is limited to 4 ½ hours, after which patients are left to live with the deficits caused by stroke. A task force of communications experts convened by the AHA developed a stroke awareness communications plan to change community norms related to stroke recognition and response and the funding would have been used to begin implementation of that plan. However, the bill also failed to be heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, with Senator Tokuda citing the state’s budget deficit for the lack of funding.

E-cigarettes:
Bills to tax electronic smoking devices (ESDs) and to require a license to sell those products remains alive in both the House and Senate. The AHA supports these proposals, but is asking that revenue from the tax be used for community tobacco prevention education. E-cigarette use has quadrupled among Hawaii teens over the last four years and more education is needed to overcome tobacco industry marketing targeting youth. Also, licensing is needed to allow the state to identify retailers who sell these products so that education and compliance checks can be performed to enforce the State’s tobacco to 21 law which includes ESDs.

Please watch for action alerts on these issues and take action to support remaining AHA priorities during the 2017 State Legislative Session!

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