Pages tagged "tobacco"

Tobacco Messaging


Despite decades of education, smoking continues to be the number one public health problem in the United States.

Don’t say . . .

Say . . .

Smokers’ freedom or rights


Smoke-free, secondhand smoke

Health, disease, cancer, clean air

Protect children, protect nonsmokers

Why . . .

People don’t have the freedom or right to hurt others. There are a number of phrases that work for tobacco control, listed above. On the state and local levels, most of the debate revolves around two health policies. First, smoke-free workplaces:

Say . . .

We have a responsibility, whenever it’s practical, to protect people from harm, especially children. It is clear that secondhand smoke is dangerous and cancerous. Doctors and scientists have concluded that the only way to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke is to require smoke-free workplaces. That’s what we should do to defend everyone’s right to breathe clean air.

Why . . .

Americans overwhelmingly believe that secondhand smoke is dangerous. They are concerned about their own health and it is persuasive to talk about children’s health. Less than 20 percent of voters are smokers and even a good percentage of them support smoke-free laws.

The other common tobacco-related political debate is about raising the tobacco tax.

Say . . .

As adults, we have a responsibility to protect children from harm. Sadly, one-third of kids who smoke cigarettes will die prematurely from smoking-related illnesses. The most proven, effective way to protect those children is to raise the cigarette tax. Studies show that when the tax goes up, teen smoking goes down. It’s a small price to pay to protect the health of our children. 

Why . . .

For voters, deemphasize tax revenues and focus on health benefits. Legislators are interested in what they can do with the tax dollars but that’s not a strong argument to persuadable voters. 

Right wing argument: Secondhand smoke is not a health hazard.

Say . . .

The Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Surgeon General, and all the other important health organization unanimously agree that smoke is just as dangerous to another person exposed as it is to the smoker. Children are the ones most often affected. The American Lung Association estimates that, in the U.S., secondhand smoke causes about 50,000 deaths per year. 

Right wing argument: Anti-tobacco laws infringe on a person’s right to smoke. 

Say . . .

I feel for smokers—tobacco is extremely addictive. I would certainly support programs to help them. But everyone has the right to breathe clean air and to avoid damaging their own health. These laws do not stop anyone from smoking—they stop some of the harms that smoking inflicts on others.

Health Policy

Our Progressive Vision: Every American should be able to get the health care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford. But for years, insurance companies charged too much, their policies were full of holes, and coverage was easily denied or revoked. The Affordable Care Act changed that, providing families with a measure of health security. But there is still much to be done: (1) provide coverage to every American as a matter of right; (2) encourage healthy behavior and protect others from unhealthy behaviors; and (3) allow people to make their own health care choices. 

Health care for all

Even though the Affordable Care Act has substantially lowered the number of uninsured Americans, at least 30 million people remain without health coverage. A progressive state or local government will do everything possible to assist and encourage people to take advantage of the ACA. Obviously, the first problem is the nearly two dozen states that have refused the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and thereby denied free health coverage to about 5 million people. But every jurisdiction can publicize ACA open enrollment, hold enrollment events, make information available through schools, libraries, and other government agencies, make sure that “navigators” and assisters are easily accessible to all, involve traditional insurance agents, and correct the misstatements that are keeping some from even considering enrollment. In addition, states and cities can expand their own programs to address chronic disease prevention and management, make oral health services more widely available, and support community health centers. “Healthy San Francisco” is a program that covers residents whether or not they are eligible for the ACA, such as providing coverage for unauthorized immigrants.

Encouraging healthy behavior

Preventable behaviors such as tobacco use, poor diet and physical inactivity, and alcohol or other drug use are the underlying cause of half of deaths in the United States, according to a recent study. A progressive government encourages healthy behaviors while leaving ultimate decisions to the individual. The biggest preventable killer remains tobacco, which claims more than 480,000 victims every year. Jurisdictions can discourage smoking by raising the tobacco tax, implementing workplace smoking and e-cigarette bans, and offering smoking cessation programs. States, localities and school boards can improve nutrition and physical fitness programs available in schools and also increase opportunities for athletics, walking and biking in communities. States and localities can raise alcohol taxes, crack down on sales to minors, and rethink whether their drug laws and enforcement systems are an efficient way to discourage the use of dangerous drugs.

Helping people make their own health care choices

Too often, people who are sick or dying are not given choices that should be theirs to make. If a doctor thinks that a patient with glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, nausea from chemotherapy or chronic pain would benefit from medical marijuana, the patient should have that choice. If patients would benefit from palliative care, they should be told. And if a terminally ill person wants to have some control over the time of his or her own death, that should be their decision, not the government's.



Restrict e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that mimic cigarettes. A heating element vaporizes a nicotine liquid, which is inhaled by the user. Both the benefits and risks of e-cigarettes are rather uncertain, but nicotine is certainly an addictive substance and some teenagers who were otherwise nonsmokers are using e-cigarettes. There are two major policy issues at the state and local levels: whether workplace smoking bans should apply to e-cigarettes and whether marketing toward and sale to minors should be prohibited. Eight states and more than 500 localities have specifically forbidden e-cigarettes where smoking is already banned, in part because their safety is not established and because their use causes public confusion as to where smoking is allowed. Forty-six states outlaw the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

End-of-life palliative care         

All too often, terminally ill people are not provided adequate information about their physical condition or counseling about palliative care and end-of-life options. Too often they feel abandoned by the healthcare system and suffer unnecessary physical or psychological pain. People have a right to know when treatments offer only a tiny chance of prolonging their lives for a few weeks or months. And they have a right to know about palliative therapies which could make them feel a lot better for their remaining time. A few states now require healthcare providers to address the needs of the terminally ill. In New York, for example, when a disease is terminal and patients are unlikely to survive six months, doctors must inform them of this, and advise them of available medicines and treatments that comfort rather than cure. Palliative treatment can ease anxiety and pain, and can be administered at home, a hospice, or a specialized hospital unit. A good law also encourages the creation of interdisciplinary palliative care teams to provide medical, spiritual, psychological and practical support to patients and their families. And just incidentally, by eliminating medical procedures that patients don’t want, it also saves many millions of dollars.

Promote lower costs for prescription drugs

While the inflation rate was less than one percent in 2015, drug prices climbed by more than ten percent. Prescription drug costs are the fastest-growing component of health care in many jurisdictions. A new law in Vermont requires drug companies to justify the most egregious Rx price increases. Companies must disclose which of the most frequently prescribed drugs have the greatest price increases and the state attorney general is directed to determine the reasons for those increases, ultimately making the information public. 

Credit Checks, Death Penalty, Public Education and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group organized to raise public awareness on key issues and to develop public leaders who will improve the economic and social conditions of all Americans. To join, click here.

Prohibit credit checks for employment: Ten states prohibit or strongly restrict the use of credit checks in hiring, including CA, CO, CT, HI, IL, MD, NV, OR, VT and WA, because the practice irrationally discriminates against many people (like those who had earlier been sick or injured). The Fair Employment Practices Act, based on District of Columbia legislation, bans such use.

Time to kill the death penalty: Opponents of the death penalty can follow their consciences while simultaneously arguing from a strong moral and factual position: that we should instead spend society’s time and money on policies that actually reduce crime and make law-abiding Americans safer. Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

How to talk about public education: Wednesday, August 26 @3pm Eastern, 2pm Central, 1pm Mountain, Noon Pacific. Public schools are under attack from conservatives who are, essentially, trying to demolish public education. To win this argument, we need to understand public opinion and use points of agreement to push back against vouchers, school closings, narrowing of the curriculum, and ideological attacks on teachers. Register for our webinar here.

New government accounting standards for tax subsidies now apply: For the first time, rules applying to both state and local governments require that Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) include a wide range of tax subsidies. Read about it here.

E-cigarette usage surges, legislators respond: Ten percent of U.S. adults now vape, about four times more than in 2013. Big tobacco companies have largely bought the vaping industry. Many states and localities have responded with new laws, but there is much more to do.

Looking for interesting new policy ideas? Our Progressive Agenda for States and Localities contains hundreds of ideas on many subjects, including hyperlinks to model bills. It’s all right here.


E-Cigarettes, Progressive Defeats, Affordable Housing and More

The Public Leadership Institute is a nonprofit educational group that helps turn state and local elected officials, advocates and grassroots activists into progressive champions. To join, click here.

E-cigarette Smoke-Free Act: E-cigarettes are a significant public health concern and they mostly go unregulated. The E-cigarette Smoke-Free Act would amend existing state or local smoke-free workplaces laws to include vaping. Some jurisdictions are also prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

This year’s top progressive defeats in states and localities: Conservatives won a lot of battles this year, especially in state legislatures, and particularly involving abortion, guns, education, labor rights and social services. Read about it on IdeaLog, our blog intended to raise eyebrows and engage minds.

TODAY—Creating Affordable Housing in Your Community: Tuesday, July 21 @1:30pm Eastern, 12:30pm Central, 11:30am Mountain, 10:30am Pacific. Our friends at Local Progress are hosting a great discussion about inclusionary housing policy featuring experts from Cornerstone Partnership and some lawmakers who have successfully fought this battle. Register here.

Belief in science-based policies is largely, but not entirely, a question of partisanship: The Pew Research Center has released some polling data about people’s views on hot-button scientific issues and factors such as ideology, age, religion and education. The results are interesting and important, although kind of depressing.

How government contractors hide public records: States and localities that have “sunshine” laws often find that government contractors—when they assume control of public services—block access to vital information. This report from In The Public Interest explains how contractors hide information from the public and what you can do about it.

Going to the National Conference of State Legislatures, August 3-6 in Seattle? The Public Leadership Institute will passing out copies of the Progressive Agenda and Voicing Our Values in the Exhibition Hall, booth 1205. Come visit with us! 

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