Last week over 70 You’re the Cure volunteers, survivors, caregivers and medical professionals gathered in Phoenix for Heart at the Capitol, a day to raise awareness about heart disease. During the event, volunteers advocated for two key policies: raising the minimum purchase age of tobacco products to 21 years of age and to allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to use their benefits at local farmers markets when purchasing fruits and vegetables. Here’s some key details volunteers shared with legislators:
Tobacco to 21 (Senate Bill 1010 and House Bill 2109)
According to a report released in 2015 by the Institute of Medicine, increasing the minimum sale age 21 would reduce smoking rates by 12% and lead to nearly in 225,000 fewer premature deaths, nationally. In Arizona, 37,600 high school students smoke and 27.5% percent of them reported using electronic smoking devices during the past 30 days which is above the national norm. It is clear to us that legislation is needed to protect students from a lifetime of nicotine addiction.
SNAP Farmer’s Market Benefits (Senate Billl 1245)
SB 1245 will support allowing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to use their benefits to purchase fruits and vegetables at grocery stores, corner markets, farmers markets, mobile markets, co-ops and free-standing produce stands that accept SNAP benefits. It will also provide a dollar-for-dollar match from the federal government, up to 20 dollars per day, essentially doubling the amount of fresh, Arizona Grown, fruits and vegetables SNAP recipients can purchase.
In addition to meeting with lawmakers, attendees were treated to a special presentation by two high school students – Gunner Tillemans and Alex Duarte. Gunner and Alex spoke to our group about some of the disturbing tobacco-use trends they have seen in their high school and why they are so passionate about increasing the purchasing age of tobacco products to 21 years of age. Gunner and Alex know that this legislation will improve the quality of life of their peers, improve the health of Arizona and can prevent a peer from ever trying a cigarette.
Following Gunner and Alex’s presentation, we were joined by a few legislators at our lunch tables. During these meetings we were able to convince a number of legislators to publicly commit to supporting Tobacco to 21 and signed our wonderful banner as seen in the picture below. Pictured below is Senator Katie Hobbs committing to supporting T to 21!
I want to say thank you to everyone involved in this wonderful event. It was a great way for us to start conversations with legislators regarding SB 101, HB 2109 and SB 1245 as these bills start to move through the legislative process. Please remember to regularly visit the action center to stay up-to-date on our campaigns.