Everyday, the American Heart Association works hard to protect and improve the health of our communities through policy change.
In recent years, thanks to the help of You're the Cure advocates, Mississippi is creating the next generation of lifesavers by teaching CPR to high school students, helping babies live longer by screening newborns for heart defects, and protecting many residents from secondhand smoke by making workplaces and most public places smoke-free in numerous communities. And we look forward to more heart-healthy policy changes!
In fact, this fiscal year, the American Heart Association will support and promote policies to:
- Increase the state cigarette tax by $1.50 with other tobacco products (OTP) parity by 2020. This significant increase would save lives and money! By the end of this year, approximately 5,4000 Mississippians are expected to die from tobacco-related diseases. Raising the tobacco tax by $1.50 would encourage smokers to quit and keep the youth from starting the deadly habit. Plus, the tax would generate over $200 million for the state and save an estimated $1.01 billion in long-term health care costs.
- Develop and establish statewide STEMI and Stroke Systems of Care. We want to help STEMI (most deadly type of heart attack) and stroke patients receive the right care at the right time to ensure a better chance of survival. We urge decision makers to enact statewide standards for the formal recognition of STEMI and stroke facility designations and the development of transport protocols, as well as formally enact statewide standards for the development of STEMI and stroke registries.
- Create smoke-free workplaces and public places in local communities across the state. As you may know, secondhand smoke causes heart disease, cancer, lung disease and other illnesses to children and adults who do not smoke. The Institute of Medicine reports that studies from around the world have now provided evidence for the reduced incidence of heart attacks and hospitalizations after implementation of smokefree air laws.
Additionally, the organization will explore the opportunity to require all 9-1-1 telecommunicators that provide dispatch for emergency medical conditions be trained in the delivery of high-quality telephone CPR. When you call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency, you'll often wait 5-10 minutes in an ideal situation for EMS to arrive. For acute conditions like cardiac arrest, CPR must be initiated in minutes. A victim's chance of survival would increase if the dispatcher would walk the caller through CPR, while they wait for EMS.
Stay tuned for You're the Cure emails and text messages inviting you to speak up for these policy efforts via email, social media and even in-person! Your voice - and heart - can truly influence lawmakers and change policy to protect and improve the health of your community.