This February the 2016 Oregon Legislature convened for a 35-day session. The American Heart Association had two priority issues that our advocates successfully educated legislators about and built momentum for Oregon’s longer legislative session in 2017.
Protecting Kids from Tobacco:
One of our top priorities was to protect Oregon kids from tobacco. We successfully kicked off our Tobacco 21 for Oregon campaign, our effort to raise the legal sale age of tobacco to 21. Research has shown that raising the tobacco purchasing age to 21 will reduce addiction and prevent disease. Alongside Sen. Steiner Hayward and youth advocates, we held a kick-off press conference announcing our new coalition of 22 organizations. Our advocacy generated media coverage across the state: here are the Statesman Journal and the Portland Tribune’s articles. Here are photos from Tobacco 21 for Oregon Kick Off.
We invited over 90 youth advocates in middle and high school to join us at the Capitol, where they signed pledges to be tobacco-free and to meet with their legislators. You can see our AHA Advocacy Day photos here: AHA Advocacy Day
As legislators introduced a bill to establish statewide tobacco retail licensure, we also worked to prevent Big Tobacco’s bad amendments from moving forward.
Supporting Physically Active Kids:
Another priority was to give Oregon kids opportunities to be more physically active. Too many Oregon kids aren’t getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day that they need to be healthy, putting them at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
This session we advocated for increased funding of Oregon’s Safe Routes to School program to support increased walking and biking. We also worked to increase support for Oregon’s critically important Physical Education requirement. Starting next year, all schools must provide the recommended number of PE minutes for elementary and middle school students.
While no additional funds were allocated this session, we successfully educated decision makers and built momentum for the longer 2017 legislative session.
Oregon Capitol Goes Red
Dozens of legislators joined the American Heart Association on Wear Red Day to raise awareness of the impact of heart disease, especially on women. You can see photos here: Oregon Capitol Goes Red