Featured Story

FeaturedStory

November 15 is the Great American Smokeout, an event that the American Cancer Society has hosted for over 40 years every third Thursday of November. It began in the 1970s when smoking and secondhand smoke were more common and has since helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about tobacco. In the wake of new data that shows cigarette smoking among adults is at an all-time low, this year’s observance is an opportunity to both reflect on a major public health success story and look ahead at new policy and systems change strategies to reduce the harmful health effects of all tobacco products on the market. Read More »

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States Enact Tobacco 21 Laws

April 24, 2019|1:53 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

CDC recognizes tobacco use as the leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States and estimates that each day, approximately 2,000 people under age 18 smoke their first cigarette, with more than 300 becoming daily cigarette smokers. In 2015, the Institute of Medicine projected that if the age of sale for tobacco products was set at 21 years of age across the country, there would be 249,000 fewer premature deaths. Since the report was published, several jurisdictions have increased the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. By the end of 2018, laws to increase the age of sale, also known as tobacco 21 laws, were enacted in six states—California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Oregon—as well as Washington, D.C. and Guam. Read More »

Women, Syphilis, and Drug Use: A Renewed Convergence

April 24, 2019|11:57 a.m.| Hazel D. Dean, ScD, DrPH (Hon), FACE

Women’s health is again threatened by the convergence of syphilis and drug use. In 1988, the health risk was driven by the co-epidemics of crack cocaine and syphilis. Today, the threat again comes from syphilis, this time combining with the epidemics of methamphetamine, heroin, and other injection-drug use. To protect women’s health, we should rethink how we can address this syndemic (i.e., two or more health problems interacting synergistically) while drawing on the lessons learned from prior syphilis increases and from the longitudinal relationships between healthcare providers and people living with HIV. Read More »

Public Health and Interoperability: A State Perspective

April 17, 2019|7:38 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Karen Smith, MD, MPH, is state health officer for the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Formerly a public health officer for Napa County Health and Human Services Agency, Smith brings a wide array of knowledge as a physician specializing in infectious disease and public health. ASTHO recently spoke with Smith about the department’s capacity to address population health outcomes through informatics, analytics, and interoperability. Read More »

States Propose Raw Milk Legislation to Prevent Milk Borne Disease

April 17, 2019|6:06 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria and can carry dangerous germs, such as E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella. Raw milk and raw (unpasteurized) dairy products such as soft cheese, ice cream, and yogurt cause serious foodborne illnesses. From 2007 to 2012, 26 states reported 81 outbreaks linked to raw milk, which resulted in 979 illnesses and 73 hospitalizations. Infants, young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk. Fifty-nine percent of outbreaks involved at least one child younger than five years. Read More »

States Take Action to Address Food Insecurity

April 10, 2019|5:52 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In 2017, one in eight Americans experienced food insecurity. Food insecurity has a direct impact on physical and mental health status, educational attainment, and life expectancy. Public programs are in place to help families access foods, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. States are also exploring strategies to more effectively leverage these resources, increase enrollment, and ensure there are vendors and locations available to dispense these resources. Read More »

State and Federal Actions to Protect Communities from Toxic PFAS Chemicals

April 10, 2019|4:36 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

In recent years, the public health community has focused more attention on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. After several high-profile lawsuits in Minnesota and West Virginia thrust environmental PFAS contamination and human exposure issues into the national spotlight, the public became understandably concerned, demanding action from elected officials and governmental public health agencies. Environmental PFAS contamination is a complex issue that requires leadership and input from multiple stakeholder groups, including local, state, and federal public health agencies, elected officials, the public, and industry. Read More »

Building Healthy and Safe Communities by Understanding and Preventing Suicides

April 03, 2019|5:08 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With this year’s National Public Health Week, the American Public Health Association (APHA) and its partners are highlighting key issues towards creating the healthiest nation. To achieve this goal, APHA stresses the importance of building safe and healthy communities, which includes such things as reducing risks to pedestrians and bicyclist, increasing access to healthy foods, and preventing violence and suicides. Over the past few years, several states have begun to address and tackle the issue of suicide through law and policy. Below are a couple of examples of how states are using laws to promote suicide awareness and prevention. Read More »

State Earned Income Tax Credits as a Prevention Strategy for ACEs

March 28, 2019|10:09 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Evidence shows that exposure during childhood to negative events, also known as adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), can increase a person’s likelihood of encountering long-term chronic or behavioral health issues, such as heart disease, violence, suicide, and substance use. ACEs, such as child abuse, neglect, or household deprivations (e.g. parental incarceration, substance use, or separation) are often clustered, with individuals who experience at least one ACE being more likely to experienced multiple ACEs. With data indicating the prevalence of ACEs extending to almost half of children nationwide, policymakers in many states are exploring ways to prevent them, as a result reducing the negative health impacts associated with them. Read More »

States Consider a Wide Array of Paid Family Leave Legislation

March 21, 2019|11:20 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Paid family leave allows employees to take paid time off during pregnancy, after the birth or adoption of a child, or when a family member needs care. Only an estimated 13-14 percent of workers in the United States have access to employer-based paid family leave. Evidence shows that paid family leave provides health-related benefits for mothers and children including increases in health benefits associated with breastfeeding, better mother-child interactions, and decreased maternal and marital stress. Read More »

Innovative Approaches for Overdose Prevention

March 20, 2019|4:07 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

For several years, state opioid overdose prevention efforts have focused on a narrow set of strategies and policies such as morbidity and mortality surveillance, prescription drug monitoring programs, provider education and guidelines, and increasing access to naloxone. According to Martha Yeide, ASTHO’s senior director for social and behavioral health, “States have focused on implementing the strategies with the most available evidence or data suggesting efficacy in addressing the opioid epidemic. At this point, now that states have several years of experience in addressing these issues, we are realizing that we need to expand our focus to continue stabilizing and driving down overdose rates.”. Read More »

State and Federal Telehealth Policy Activity

March 14, 2019|1:32 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With access to health services becoming an increasingly important issue, states are looking to telehealth as a mechanism to increase access and remove access barriers in 2019 legislative sessions. Telehealth uses electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration. Telehealth modalities include live videoconferencing, store-and-forward, remote patient monitoring, and mobile health. Read More »

Public Health on the Hill: A Coalition for Sustained Support

March 07, 2019|1:36 p.m.| Adriane Casalotti, Chief of Government and Public Affairs, NACCHO | Carolyn Mullen, Chief of Government Affairs and Public Relations, ASTHO

Our nation’s public health system is, at its core, a partnership between federal, state, and local governments. While these partnerships are clear on the ground in communities, many members of Congress are unaware of the important work being done each day to keep their states and communities safe and healthy. Read More »

States Move Toward Regulating CBD Products

March 07, 2019|1:01 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With the enactment of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, the federal government removed industrial hemp, as well as its derivatives, extracts, and cannabinoids, from the definition of marijuana. It will now be lawful to grow and process industrial hemp as long as it and any resulting products do not contain more than 0.3 percent delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Industrial hemp contains a number of cannabinoids, chemical compounds that act on receptors affecting such things as appetite, learning, memory, anxiety, depression, and pain. One of the most widely known cannabinoids is cannabidiol or CBD. Read More »

Ensuring Schools Remain Tobacco-Free

February 28, 2019|1:37 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

According to CDC and FDA, e-cigarette use increased 78 percent among high school students between 2017 and 2018, resulting in 1.5 million more young e-cigarette smokers in the United States over the course of the past year. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams (alumnus-IN) described the increase in e-cigarette use among young people as an epidemic, releasing a public statement and an advisory. Read More »

ASTHO Member Spotlight: Thomas Dobbs

February 21, 2019|3:15 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Thomas Dobbs, MD, MPH, is state health officer for the Mississippi State Department of Health. Formerly state epidemiologist and deputy state health officer, Dobbs is an infectious diseases physician by training, with experience in public health, private practice, hospital administration, and academics. In addition to his role at the health department, Dobbs is currently an associate professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s School of Population Health, where he teaches courses in epidemiology and health policy. Read More »

States Move to Eliminate Non-Medical Exemptions for Vaccinations

February 21, 2019|12:44 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With the increased use of non-medical vaccine exemptions leading to more outbreaks of measles and other easily preventable diseases, ASTHO expects more states to eliminate non-medical exemptions. ASTHO will continue to keep its members and the public health community informed about this important policy area. Read More »

As Awareness Around the Importance of Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity Increases, State Legislation Follows Suit

February 14, 2019|10:37 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Policymakers are increasingly recognizing evidence regarding the role that the social determinants of health play in shaping individual and community wellness, health outcomes, and healthcare spending. Public health officials are well positioned to advance population health by creating policy, building partnerships across sectors, and advocating for community-defined priorities. State legislatures are also becoming increasingly active in this space. Read More »

Matters of the Heart and Mind

February 14, 2019|10:24 a.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

Many of the activities that protect our hearts also protect our minds. This is particularly true for heart health. We’ve known for some time that preventive and medical interventions can reduce the risk of strokes. However, recent studies have shown that lifestyle modifications and medical treatments are associated with slowing cognitive impairment and lowering the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Read More »

Measles Outbreaks and School Exclusions: Public Health’s Authority to Protect Children and Stop the Spread of Disease

February 07, 2019|1:12 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

As they work to improve the health of tomorrow, today’s public health officials are increasingly occupied with the diseases of yesterday. For example, cases of measles, a highly contagious disease that was once a constant presence in the United States, have increased over the past several years, despite the ready availability of a highly effective vaccine (i.e., the MMR vaccine). Read More »

Preparedness in the Caribbean: A Conversation with Danny Staley

February 07, 2019|9:06 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Danny Staley (alumnus-NC) is chief of ASTHO’s Caribbean Operations. He previously served as director of the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Staley began his career in public health in 1992 after graduating from Appalachian State University with a degree in health education, followed by a master’s degree in community health administration and wellness promotion. Read More »

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