You’re the Cure (Brittany Bertram)

Red is the color of love; it is the color of lips, and the color of the heart. Volunteers, survivors, students, and people all around the state spent their Valentine’s Day using their lips and love to talk about matters that were very close to their heart: heart disease.

February 14, 2012 marked another successful Lobby Day for Kentuckians. The American Heart Association partnered with several people in the Kentucky community to travel to Frankfort to inform their senators and representatives about three bills they felt would greatly influence society.

“Kentucky Lobby Day is my chance to make a difference in the lives of Kentuckians. It is an opportunity to educate our legislators on important issues affecting our Commonwealth’s health and well-being and to bring them up to date on initiatives that address both the cardiovascular health and obesity levels of our citizens. It is well worth the investment of time,” said heart disease survivor, Jack Rutherford.

The main bill on which they focused was House Bill 289. This bill is in support of Smoke-Free Kentucky and would enforce the smoking restriction in public places that many Kentucky communities have already adopted. Since second-hand smoke has such a strong influence on the health of individuals, this bill would greatly decrease heart disease, which is the most predominant killer in Kentucky. In turn, the bill would save the state money because health costs would decrease due to the decline of heart disease and other medical-related issues.

Senate Bill 110 and House Bill 243 deal with the obesity epidemic and it encourages schools to allow use of the school facilities, after hours, in order to permit communities additional opportunities to be physically active. The bill would allow the schools to charge a reasonable fee and would free them of any liability issues that might occur.

With these three bills, Kentucky’s community has the opportunity to increase the quality of life for their community, improve their health, and initiate a change that will positively affect future generations.

Paul Hornback, Senator of District 20, says: “If we are going to enforce a bill that moves toward a smoke-free Kentucky, we must include language that does not take away from the freedom of the minorities. Instead of banning smoking, we need to use language that restricts smokers.” Hornback suggest that businesses should be able to decide if they would like their business to be a smoking facility or a non-smoking facility. However, if they choose to be a smoking facility they must clearly demonstrate that to their patrons. They must also inform their staff of their decision before they are hired.

Each registered guest that arrived for Lobby Day was included in a small training session to go over the bills and the points they were lobbying for. For the rest of the day, they were scheduled in meetings to share their stories and thoughts with their representatives and senators.

Senate Bill 110 and House Bill 243 for obesity look like they are well on their way to becoming enforced. Smoke-Free Kentucky has improved since last year, but there is still work to be done to done to encompass each Kentucky community in this bill.

Lobby Day is one of the several events the American Heart Association puts on in February during American Heart Month. Be sure to get involved this month in some way and share the heart health. For more information and ways to be heart healthy or for information on upcoming American Heart Month events please visit www.heart.org.



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