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Public Health Funding Highlights in Fiscal Year 2015-2016 New York State Budget 

April 6, 2015

With the final adoption of the 2015-2016 New York State budget, we are pleased to announce that consolidation of public health funding has been rejected.  Many public health programs have received level funding in lieu of the original proposed consolidation and a 15% cut.  A few notable highlights of the 2015-2016 budget include:

  • Funding for tobacco control programming will remain level at $39 million.
  • The New York State Cancer Services Program will once again receive $25,281,000 - the same level of funding it currently receives.  Had the original proposed consolidation and 15% cut gone through, more than 16,000 fewer cancer screenings would have taken place in New York State in the next year.
  • The Healthy Teeth Amendment was included in the budget.  This provision requires localities seeking to discontinue a community water fluoridation program to issue a public notice, including a justification, an identification of the fluoridation alternatives available, and a summary of the locality's consultations on the subject with health professionals and the New York State Department of Health.  The locality must also provide the Department of Health at least 90 days advance notice, which must include the material in the public notice, the date of such discontinuance, and any material required by the State Sanitary Code.
  • The budget also includes a $5 million Oral Health Fund that will provide grants to localities for the purchase, repair or upgrade of fluoridation equipment.

NYSPHA extends a thank you to our members, supporters, community allies and partners for a hard-fought win.  These and other public health advocacy victories would not have come to fruition had it not been for our collective efforts - from NYSPHA members banding together for a day of advocacy in meeting with our lawmakers, to all of your visits with lawmakers at the Capitol and in your communities, your phone calls, emails and stories.  While we bask in the glory of all public health professionals in New York State, we must also keep the upward momentum going strong - explore the possibility of consulting with our Policy and Advocacy Committee to learn how NYSPHA can support public health legislation in your community.



NYSPHA Partners with Live Well Kingston Coalition on Plan4Health Project 

March 30, 2015

The Live Well Kingston Coalition has received a $125,000 grant from the American Planning Association through its Plan4Health program to combat two determinants of chronic disease— lack of physical activity and lack of access to nutritious foods.

Plan4Health is a 15-month program that strengthens the connection between planning and public health. Seventy-five percent of the program’s funding supports local and state coalitions working to advance public health through better planning and partnerships. The program is implemented in partnership with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and represents a major new collaboration between planners and public health professionals. Funding for Plan4Health was provided through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"The New York State Public Health Association works to promote and protect the public's health and we see tremendous potential for what this coalition can achieve in the the City of Kingston," said Erin Sinisgalli, Executive Director of NYSPHA, "This unique partnership will help us to bridge the silos that often exist in our work and bring together non-traditional partners to achieve better health for all."

More on this new collaborationread the full press release here.


Action Alert: Local Law D Override Vote to Happen on Oct. 14 

October 10, 2014

On Tuesday, October 7, the Times Union covered the news regarding the vetoed Local Law D. Tim Nichols, the law's sponsor, was quoted for asking for support.  "I am calling on my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join me in this effort that will protect the health and lives of Albany County residents and visitors," he said.

Read the full Times Union story here.

 

Your help is needed:  In order to overturn this veto, we need three (3) legislators to change their votes from 'no' to 'yes'.  Please see the following action alert from NYSPHA, complete with a listing of legislators, their contact information, and some standard talking points to help influence Tuesday's vote.

 

Action Alert:  Contact Your Albany County Legislator ASAP 

 

 

Vetoed Local Law D: Override Attempt to Take Place Oct. 14 

October 7, 2014

In a press release on Tuesday, October 7, Albany County Legislator Tim Nichols announced his intention to override the vetoed Local Law D - the law that would ban the sale of tobacco in all Albany County pharmacies beginning March 1, 2015.

Click hereto read the full press release.

The override attempt is set for Tuesday, October 14, so it's very important that local NYSPHA members and all public health activists show their support by calling their Legislators.

If you have any questions or if you're looking for some extra guidance on how you can get involved in this effort, please contact one of our NYSPHA representatives:

 

Michael Seserman, MPH, RD

NYSPHA President

Email: Michael.Seserman@cancer.org

 

Tammie Kheocha-on, MPH 

NYSPHA Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair

pkheochaon@gmail.com.

  

 

NYSPHA in the News 

September 21, 2014

Our members and community supporters continue to speak out against Albany County's vetoed Local Law D.  Here is what NYSPHA and an Albany County resident had to say, both published in the Times Union:

 

Health group will work to overturn tobacco veto

Sale of tobacco items at pharmacies is senseless 

 

 

  

NYSPHA Reacts to Vetoed Local Law D 

September 11, 2014

On Wednesday, September 10th it was announced that Albany County Executive Dan McCoy vetoed the law that would ban the sale of tobacco in Albany County pharmacies beginning March 1, 2015.  The New York State Public Health Association (NYSPHA), after working tirelessly with the County, public health advocates and the community at large to support this legislation, condemns this decision and publicly expresses disappointment.

In a statement issued by Michael Seserman, President of NYSPHA, “Our county supporters are very disappointed with the veto.  The decision is difficult to understand since it was clear from polls and the hearings that most County residents support tobacco free pharmacies.”

 

NYSPHA fully supports legislation that is congruent with protecting and promoting the public’s health.  States and municipalities are permitted to pass legislation to protect and promote the public’s health and safety, and Albany County’s decision to veto this legislation demonstrates appeasement to the small minority of opposition.

 

Contrary to claims that cigarettes and tobacco products are comparable to junk food and alcohol, they are not – they are unique in that they are the only legal products sold that, when used as directed, are lethal.  Products of this nature should have no space on a pharmacy shelf where patrons come to improve their health.

 

Board member and Chair of NYSPHA’s Policy and Advocacy Committee Tammie Kheocha-on has also weighed in on the significance of Local Law D and implications of the veto.  “Despite the veto, this event is still significant because it started a dialogue and raised awareness in the community about how inappropriate tobacco sales are in pharmacies. Maybe Albany County wasn't the next to pass this progressive law, but NYSPHA members can and should encourage their own local legislators to take action in their own communities.”

 

NYSPHA will continue to work with its members, supporters of this legislation, Albany County and the community at large to overturn this veto in an effort to strengthen, not stall, tobacco control initiatives in our community.

   

 

NYSPHA in Support of Tobacco-Free Pharmacies in Albany County 

September 10, 2014

 

NYSPHA fully supports, and strongly urges Albany County Executive Dan McCoy to approve Local Law D, which will ban the sale of tobacco in Albany County pharmacies beginning March 1, 2015.

A public hearing to help make the ultimate decision as whether or not to approve this legislation was held on Wednesday, September 3.  While there were a few who spoke out in opposition of this law, there was a strong turnout in support.

 

Our NYSPHA members continue to speak out as we await to see if County Executive McCoy approves or vetos this legislation - recent testimony published in the Times Union:

 

Limiting tobacco sales stifles use

Ban tobacco sales in the pharmacies

 

  

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy to Hold Public Hearing on Wednesday, September 3rd 

August 19, 2014

 

On Wednesday, September 3rd, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy will hold a public hearing on Local Law D that would prohibit the sale of tobacco in all pharmacies in Albany County.

This law was passed during the County Legislature meeting on Monday, August 11th, however it must be approved by County Executive McCoy before it's official.  If signed it will go into effect on March 1st, 2015, and this will mark the first municipality in New York State to ban the sale of tobacco in its pharmacies.

This is an important last step before this law can be enacted, and it's critical that County Executive McCoy hears how the public feels about ending the sale of tobacco in pharmacies.

The upcoming public hearing marks yet another pivotal point for NYSPHA, and we strongly encourage you join us in this effort.  There are several ways you can get involved:

 

  • Save the date:  Mark your calendar for Wednesday, September 3rd at 5:00 PM to attend the public hearing.   The hearing will take place in the Cahill room of the county office building at 112 State Street, Albany.  Please contact NYSPHA President Michael Seserman if you are able to attend:

        Michael Seserman, MPH, RD

        Email: Michael.Seserman@cancer.org

 

  • Explore the possibilities of becoming a NYSPHA member:  Click here to find out more about becoming a NYSPHA member, the benefits, and the many ways you can join a strong group of public health advocates in New York State to shape our communities in protecting and promoting good health for all New Yorkers.

 

  • Share this information widely within your own network

 

 

 

Albany County Legislature Passes Vote to End the Sale of Tobacco in Pharmacies 

August 12, 2014

 

During the Albany County Legislature meeting on Monday, August 11th, the vote passed 21-17 in favor of eliminating the sale of tobacco from all stores that contain a pharmacy in Albany County.  This will mark the first municipality in New York State to ban the sale of tobacco in all of its pharmacies, including those within retail and grocery stores such as Rite Aid and Price Chopper.

 

NYSPHA supports this law, and we strongly encourage County Executive Dan McCoy to approve and officially sign the legislation.  NYSPHA has worked to educate Albany Legislators about the benefits of the policy since the tobacco-free pharmacy bill was first introduced there in 2011.

 

Once signed, the law would go into effect on March 1st, 2015.

 

Click here for additional information on tobacco-free pharmacies.

To learn more about how NYSPHA supports this legislation and how you can get involved, please contact NYSPHA Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair Tammie Kheocha-on at pkheochaon@gmail.com. 

 

 

Proposed Tobacco-Free Pharmacy Law in Albany:  Vote to happen on August 11th  

August 7, 2014

On Monday, August 11th, the Albany County Legislature will vote on proposed local law D that would end the sale of tobacco in pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy. If the proposed law is passed, Albany County will be the first municipality in New York to prohibit the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.

Albany County legislators want to hear from their constituents about issues that are important to them.  

NYSPHA supports this proposed law, and we encourage you to band together with your Public Health colleagues and speak out in favor of this proposed legislation as well.

If you are an Albany County resident, please contact your legislator to express your thoughts and come to the August 11th County Legislature meeting to speak during the public comment period.

To search for your county representative, visit: http://access.albanycounty.com/voterinfo/

Legislative meetings take place at the Legislative Chambers in the Albany County Courthouse immediately after the 6:30 PM Public Forum - click herefor additional information.

If you have any questions about this or additional legislation that NYSPHA supports, please contact NYSPHA Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair Tammie Kheocha-on at pkheochaon@gmail.com.

 

  

 

NYSPHA Supports Newly-Passed Tobacco-Free Ordinance in the City of Albany

August 6, 2014

On Monday, August 4th, the Albany Common Council voted unanimously to ban tobacco in Albany City parks, playgrounds, swimming pools and ball fields.  Only one council member was against the ordinance - he abstained while all others voted in favor.

Soon, anyone who lives, works or plays in Albany will be able to enjoy the parks without having to worry about secondhand smoke exposure. The ordinance will officially go into effect when Mayor Kathy Sheehan signs it, and the new restrictions on tobacco use will also apply to larger events such as the Tulip Fest and Alive at Five concerts.  There will be a $50 fine for anyone who violates the ordinance.

Members of NYSPHA attended Monday's common council meeting in support of this new ordinance and to reinforce the urgency for such legislation. 

According to Board Member Tammie Kheocha-on, "In order for this ordinance to make a meaningful impact, our duty as NYSPHA members is to spread the word and educate others about the benefits of smoke-free policies."  Tammie chairs NYSPHA's Policy and Advocacy Committee, and she strongly believes that legislators are interested in what their constituents have to say.

"Staffers are much more receptive when constituents are polite and concise. It's worth giving your representative's office a quick call or sending a brief note to offer your thoughts or public health expertise."

Tammie said that with neighboring localities having already enacted similar laws, "we hope that the trend will catch and that we can create a new norm."

Click here to catch a glimpse of Monday's Common Council meeting with some video footage courtesy of WNYT News Channel 13. 

For additional information or to explore the possibility of joining your NYSPHA colleagues in future policy & advocacy efforts, contact Tammie Kheocha-on at pkheochaon@gmail.com.

 

 

2014 Legislative Update

July 2, 2014

It has been a busy legislative session in Albany.  NYSPHA successfully fought off cuts to several important public health programs. NYSPHA also promoted several bills and signed on to a number of others bills at the state and national level in support of our mission of promoting the public’s health and preventing illness.

This year, a number of NYSPHA organizational successes also took place that should be recognized:

  1. First NYSPHA Day of Action where members came to Albany to educate and lobby in support of public health. Thank you to all those who participated.
  2. First NYSPHA print media campaign to support a priority bill.
  3. First NYSPHA webinar to educate and mobilize members on the public health policy and how to meet with legislators.

Despite our best efforts, which were remarkable in terms of the calls and emails made to legislators in the past couple of months, the bills that we were supporting did not pass either house (see legislative agenda).  In the closing days, there was so much focus on medical marijuana and teacher evaluation reforms that the health groups could not get much traction. It appears that the tobacco industry and vaping association were busy as well pushing their position to allow vaping virtually anywhere. In addition, industry pressure, and money, likely played a significant role to stall the tobacco free SUNY bill that the Association was supporting.  After all, it is an election year.

All in all, NYSPHA should be proud of the role that we have played as a voice for public health in New York State. Going forward NYSPHA will be stronger and our voices louder because our membership are more prepared and knowledgeable about influencing public policy.  We must also remember that it usually takes several years of educating the legislature on a bill before we see success.

Please inquire about getting involved for the next session beginning in the fall so that we can continue to strengthen NYSPHA and our policy and advocacy efforts. Thank you to the members who have been involved in the policy committee over the past year.

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