On Thursday, May 11th the American Heart Association held its annual Lobby Day at New York City Hall. Local advocates and survivors visited the offices of council members who have supported our policy asks and those who can influence many of the topics we prioritize, such as funding CPR in Schools, restrictions on menthol tobacco, increased blood pressure management funding and expanding healthy options available on the kids’ meals menu.
The lobby day began with an advocacy training by Greg Mihailovich from the American Heart Association. He and Robin Vitale, VP of Health, explained the basics of lobbying and reviewed the finer points of legislation and proposals the Association supports.
|Above: Greg Mihailovich leading an advocacy training.
Below: Wendy Mono, American Heart Association volunteer, and Jonathan Boucher, Chief of Staff for Council Member Lynn Schulman.
|Above: Alexandra Levine, Tabitha and Pallavi with American Heart Association NYC staff, including Meg Gilmartin.
Below: Tabitha Ellis stands next to Council Member Mercedes Narcisse, and You’re the Cure advocates Skyye James and Pallavi Devchand
Tabitha Ellis, 32, lead NYC Lobby Day as chair of the advocacy committee. Ellis is both a heart disease and stroke survivor. She wants to raise awareness about risk factors in young adults and is committed to helping the next generation live longer, healthier lives.
“For me, as NYC Chair of the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Committee it is of the upmost importance for me to lead by example. I want people to know their voices matter, and so does their health,” Ellis said.
“More than ever, speaking up about what’s important matters. So, being able to advocate this year for bills, and policies that I believe will help with access, equity, and education on heart health was a top priority. Without speaking up and raising our voices on the topics that positively can impact our communities we allow the space for them to fall by the wayside…that we just can’t afford!”.
Wendy Mono, a resident of the 29th district was able to visit her council member’s office. She has lived in Queens since she was 12 years old. Mono spoke with Jonathan Boucher, Chief of Staff for Council Member Lynn Schulman, the chair of the health committee.
It was democracy in action at City Hall Park when You’re the Cure Advocates spoke with New York City Council members as they walked from City Hall to their office buildings. Mr. Sal Puglisi and students from the Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management spoke with elected officials outside of City Hall and in their offices on Broadway. The students leveraged this important face-to-face with elected officials to speak about CPR in schools and their efforts to teach students and all age groups how to save a life with Hands-Only CPR.
Some of the current health priorities we are advocating for in New York City:
CPR in Schools
ASK: Will you support dedicating $500,000 in the next budget to ensure NYC high school students receive proper CPR and AED training as part of their graduation requirement?
• 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests do not survive.
• Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), especially if performed immediately, can double, or triple a person’s chance of survival.
• Students trained in CPR contribute significantly to the number of adults trained in CPR in the community, increasing the likelihood that someone promptly receives CPR when they need it.
• Since 2015, it has been a New York State high school graduation requirement that all students be provided instruction in hands only CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
• Not every NYC high school has the resources to provide proper training to their students.
Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring
ASK: Will you support dedicating $1 million in the next budget to revitalize NYC’s hypertension initiative and promote SMBP to save the lives of more New Yorkers?
• High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a key risk factor for heart disease and stroke and often there are no obvious symptoms to indicate something is wrong.
• Self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) is when you measure your blood pressure outside of the doctor’s office or other health care settings.
• In 2016, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) launched a hypertension initiative to promote awareness, clinical guidelines and treatment adherence called Take the Pressure Off, NYC! and invested in 300 blood pressure kiosks to support self-monitoring and placed them in strategically necessary neighborhoods.
• Resources for the initiative were diverted to NYC’s pandemic response and many kiosks sat unused for years and a number of the locations that hosted the kiosks have since closed.
• NYC should increase funding to its hypertension program to support increased education and outreach, as well as support self-measuring of blood pressure at home by investing in blood pressure cuffs to provide to community partners (FQHCs, Health Systems, other clinics, CBOs) for distribution to those who do not have access to them.
Healthier Kids’ Meals in NYC Restaurants
ASK: Will you support legislation that ensures that NYC restaurants offering a children’s menu include healthy options so our children can eat healthier?
• Eighty-five percent of U.S. households eat out on average about five times a week.
• Children consume almost twice as many calories at restaurants compared to a typical meal at home.
• To help parents, restaurants should offer healthier options with more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
• Studies show that restaurants can offer a healthier kids’ menu without losing revenue.
• Most parents are more likely to buy food for their kids at restaurants that offer healthier kids’ meals.
• Nutrition standards for children’s meals do NOT have to apply to all children’s meals offered by a restaurant. Two children’s meals or 25% of the children’s menu should meet the minimum nutrition standards.
Restricting the Sale of Menthol Tobacco in NYC
ASK: Will you support Intro 577-2022 and finally remove menthol tobacco products from NYC stores?
• Menthol makes cigarettes easier to smoke and harder to quit by cooling the mouth and throat to lessen the harshness of smoking and allow smokers to inhale more deeply.
• More than half of youth and young adult smokers smoke menthol.
• Menthol marketing aggressively targets the African American community: menthol cigarettes are smoked by 74.6% of African American smokers, compared to 21% of Caucasian smokers.
• Every other flavored tobacco product has been removed from the market except for menthol.
• Intro 577-2022 would remove menthol tobacco products from NYC stores, just like every other flavored tobacco and e-cigarette product.
• The bill does NOT penalize or criminalize the possession or consumption of menthol cigarettes in any way. No one should be arrested for possessing or using menthol cigarettes.