In 2013 the New York State Public Health Association was involved with many efforts to improve health policy in the state. Early in the year we worked to fight off the Governor's proposed budget consolidation plan which included a 10% cut to state public health programs. Unfortunately most programs still incurred about a 5% cut.
Since April, NYSPHA members participated in press events to support a ban on smoking in cars with children and to raise awareness about the hazards of candy flavored tobacco products. Members also provided several memos of support to bill sponsors and signed onto state and national campaigns. On the local level a NYSPHA member testified in support of tobacco free pharmacy legislation in Albany County which also generated earned media. In addition, we mobilized members through our action alert system and many of you took the opportunity to contact your state Senator or Assembly person.
Our dedicated policy committee also met several times to discuss and plan ways to move our legislative agenda. Although this past legislative session, which ended in late June, was less than stellar, NYSPHA was able to support the passage of some important public health bills. These tobacco control bills fit under our priority of preventing chronic diseases.
Restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products - A1179A passed the Assembly but will need a heavy push to get its "same as" companion bill (S5686) through the state Senate next year. The federal law banning flavored cigarettes excluded other tobacco products leaving an opportunity for cigar and smokeless manufacturers to develop new candy flavored products aimed at children. The use of flavored smokeless and small cigars have been increasing dramatically because these products are easily tolerated and inexpensive.
Smokefree healthcare - The Governor signed this bill into law which requires all hospitals and residential health care facilities to prohibit smoking on their property as well as 15 ft from their property. Residential facilities can have a designated smoking area that is at least 30 ft from the building.
Smokefree playgrounds - This new law bans smoking on all playgrounds outside of New York City during the day when or or more children are present. A playground belonging to a residential property with a one, two or three family residence is exempt.
Each year we work together to learn about the legislative process in New York while we do the good work of the Association. Feel free to contact me with your suggestions, connections, or questions about NYSPHA's policy and advocacy activities. Thank you for your support to strengthen public health in New York State.