Throughout the year, our blog will feature AHA volunteer stories of survival and hope. We know there are thousands of stories like these - thats why we want to say “Thanks” to all of you for giving your time and sharing your lives with us. You can’t spell CURE without U! Thank you for all you do to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. YOU’RE THE CURE!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Springfield's State Journal-Register: Enforce Smoke-free Illinois!

The following editorial is from The State Journal-Register in Springfield, IL. Cudos to this newspaper for their ongoing coverage of and participation in the dialogue on this important issue!

Our Opinion: Smoking ban should be fully enforced
Posted Nov 25, 2008 @ 12:58 AM
Last update Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:12 AM

IT'S BEEN 26 months since indoor smoking bans in Springfield and unincorporated Sangamon County went into effect, and some local bar owners and patrons are intent on ignoring the ordinances.

The county has taken the right approach with bar owners who repeatedly allow smoking in their establishment and refuse to obey the law: Fine them and initiate the process of taking away their liquor license.

WE BELIEVE the county also should be getting tough on individual smokers whose blatant refusal to follow the law puts pressure on the businesses they patronize to disobey it.
Both ordinances have provisions allowing a $50 fine on individuals caught smoking. The county health department should use it. County health director Jim Stone told the county liquor committee last week that on at least one occasion a bar employee chided health inspectors, telling them, “This is communism. Next thing you know you’re going to be telling us when to go to the bathroom.”

The smoking ban isn’t communism. It isn’t totalitarianism. Smoking indoors is not a right enumerated by the U.S. Constitution. It does not deprive bar and restaurant owners of their property rights any more than requiring them to store food at a safe temperature does. The nonsmoking majority is not being tyrannical against smokers.

SORRY, BUT SMOKERS are not a protected minority. Being amongst a group that engages in a habit that kills you and that could kill those around you does not make you equivalent to those who bled for the right to vote 40 years ago. Your civil disobedience does not make you Martin Luther King.

The city, county and state did not violate anyone’s rights by passing the ban and then enforcing it. The law is simple. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. But when you’re inside a public place, go outside so that everybody else can breathe clean air inside.

Smokers who don’t like the ban have the right to complain, whine and spew hyperbole as thick as the smoke they’re inhaling. But this is a law passed by the majority of legislators at the city, county and state level. A majority of the public supports it. Laws must be followed, even by those who do not like them. That’s how laws work.

WHEN THIS was being debated at the county, Sangamon County Board Chairman Andy Van Meter, a supporter of the ban, noted instances throughout human history when facts led us to change our behavior.

“In 1840, our forefathers relinquished the right to let their hogs roam free because roaming swine threatened public health. In 1847, we required every citizen to have a fire bucket at the ready,” Van Meter wrote.

The smoking ban also was one of those instances. Legislators passed it because of irrefutable evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful to the health of those who must breathe it in. This probably will be the most important public health law passed this century. Our lawmakers did the right thing and so is the county health department by enforcing the law.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Number of kids having heart attacks grows as PE class minutes shrink....

The neck arteries of obese children and teens look more like those of 45-year-olds, according to research presented recently at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions. This fatty buildup of plaque within arteries feeding the brain can lead to heart attack and stroke. Considering that one in three kids in the U.S. is overweight or obese, this is an issue we all need to be concerned about. Regular physical activity is critical to ensuring a brighter, healthier future for our children and our country.

American children have increasingly fewer opportunities to be physically active at school because quality physical education (PE) classes have suffered from the budget axe. The American Heart Association is pursuing PE policies throughout the country. At the federal level, we are advocating for the enactment of the Fitness Integrated with Teaching (FIT) Kids Act. The FIT Kids Act would provide children’s fitness data to their parents and their communities so that they can make informed decisions on the investment they want to make in the quantity and quality of PE offered in their schools.

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