The 2019 legislative session has gotten off to a quick and exciting start for the American Heart Association!
On just the second day of session, one of our top priority bills was heard in committee. House Bill 1074 (and Senate Bill 5057) would raise the legal purchase age for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21. Many of you may recall hearing back this in past years. After several years of educating lawmakers, rallying grassroots advocates, and countering tobacco industry misinformation, we are primed for a win! When we consider that 95% of smokers start by the age of 21 and e-cigarette use among youth has reached epidemic levels, we know it’s time for our state’s legislature to take decisive action and pass “T21.”
hero_image_alt_text===Picture of the Washington state Capitol building
thumbnail_alt_text===Picture of the Washington state Capitol building
We are also excited to dive into new work with our partners at the Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition and the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides much needed food assistance to 1 in 8 Washington households experiencing tough times. Nearly 2/3 of all participants are children, elderly or disabled. In recent years our state has implemented an innovative pilot program that doubles SNAP participants’ purchasing power for fruits and vegetables, helping them afford the healthy food they want. The program’s initial funding runs out this year and we’re asking the state to make an investment to continue making healthy foods, and in turn good health, available to our state’s low-income households.
Meanwhile we continue to monitor other bills and ideas that would help our friends and neighbors living with cardiovascular disease, including adopting some of the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act into state law, establishing standardized, easy-to-understand plans for the health insurance market, creating new programs to promote healthy starts among our youngest Washingtonians (birth to three years of age), and more.
Keep an eye out for email action alerts and updates throughout session. Thanks for all you do to move our public policy priorities forward in Washington!