We’re celebrating legislative victories across the South Central Affiliate. In Conway, Arkansas, the City Council voted (7-1) on March 20 to prohibit tobacco products in city parks and recreational facilities. This will make all parks smoke-free and will reduce the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Thank you to our Conway and Arkansas volunteers for helping ensure that city parks will be tobacco-free zones so kids and all citizens can enjoy the outdoors. Here are other SCA victories:
Arkansas Approves Funding for Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in All Public Schools
On March 1, the Arkansas Governor signed into law ACT 270, which provides $200,000 in funds to finally make the Antony Hobbs III Act a reality. Coupled with additional funds from the 2009 Session the state will have $325,000 that will be used to fund AEDs in Arkansas schools. This Legislative victory actually began in 2007, when Arkansas high school student and basketball player Antony Hobbs III collapsed with heart failure during a game and tragically died moments later. Defibrillation may have saved Antony’s life, but there was no AED on campus. Over Arkansas’ last two legislative sessions, the American Heart Association and Antony’s parents have led the way to pass the act requiring an AED on every public school campus and CPR training for school personnel. The Antony Hobbs III Act was signed into law in 2009; however, the funding for the legislation had not yet been appropriated.
Early in 2010, three Arkansas students collapsed from heart issues during separate athletic events. Fortunately two students were aided with an AED and survived their cardiac event. Eerily, one of the students who attended the same high school as Antony fell to the floor on the same basketball court. Fortunately, this student had a happier ending. A nearby AED was used to stabilize his heart and save the student’s life. These three instances helped refocus attention on the issue, and coupled with the AHA volunteer and staff efforts — including a grassroots movement in schools that generated 10,806 coloring sheets supporting AEDs signed by kids, direct lobbying of legislature AHA champions, recruiting assistance from the Department of Health and numerous media placements — helped get the funding bill passed.
Photo courtesy of http://www.emedamerica.com/the-company/antony-hobbs-project.
New Mexico increases the State cigarette tax by $0.75 a pack
On March 24, New Mexico took a huge step forward in tobacco control when Governor Bill Richardson signed into law a $.75 state cigarette tax increase. This law is expected to generate close to $30 million a year for the state and it may prevent more than 10,000 kids from ever starting the nicotine habit. Thank you to our team of volunteers in New Mexico and our You’re the Cure Network participants who sent out countless alerts to make this policy win possible.
Oklahoma Mandates 60 Minutes of Physical Education Per Week
On March 24, the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee approved a measure mandating public schools to provide a curriculum for physical education classes requiring students (Kindergarten – fifth grade) to take part in "moderate or vigorous” physical activity at least 50 percent of the time. Senate Bill 1876 passed the committee 13-0, as well as the full Senate, and now heads to the full House.