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Youth e-cigarette use is a growing concern among state and federal policymakers and a public health issue that FDA claims has “hit epidemic proportions.” E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco products among youth and young adults, with e-cigarette use growing 900 percent among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2015. The latest 2019 findings from the National Youth Tobacco Survey indicate that over 5 million middle- and high-school-aged youth reported using e-cigarettes in 2019, including nearly 1 million daily users. Youth e-cigarette rates continue to grow, with 27.5 percent of high school students and 10.5 percent of middle school students reporting that they’ve used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.Read More »

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Six Tips for Sustaining Accreditation

December 05, 2019|11:52 a.m.| Joanne Pearsol, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Health, and Susan Ramsey, former director of Washington State Department of Health’s Office of Performance and Accountability

Initial public health agency accreditation demonstrates that a state, territorial, local, or tribal public health agency has the capacity to provide the 10 Essential Public Health Services, develop and manage an effective health department, and maintain strong communications with the governing entity. Reaccreditation builds upon a health department’s initial accreditation efforts. It focuses on how health departments maintain capacity, ensure accountability, and support continuous quality improvement so that they continue to evolve, improve, and advance. Working with public health agencies to sustain success and momentum from accreditation and prepare for reaccreditation, we identified six key strategies for success. Read More »

States Seek to Increase HPV Vaccine Coverage Through School Immunization Requirements

December 04, 2019|2:53 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common virus that can lead to certain types of cancer later in life. The virus is spread through intimate skin-to-skin contact and can be transmitted by having sex with someone who has HPV. Almost 80 million Americans are currently infected with HPV and about 14 million become infected each year. While 90 percent of HPV infections go away within a couple of years, they sometimes last longer and can cause 6 types of cancer. Each year, approximately 20,700 cancer cases in women and 14,100 cancer cases in men are caused by HPV. In 2006, the FDA approved a vaccine to prevent HPV infection. The CDC currently recommends that all children at ages 11-12 receive the HPV vaccine and that anyone through the age of 26 who is not vaccinated also be vaccinated. Giving the vaccine at an early age can protect a person long before he or she is ever exposed to the virus. Read More »

With Cottage Food on Their Plate, States Serve Up Legislative Changes

November 25, 2019|9:39 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Local and small-scale food production has grown in popularity in the United States over the past several years. As of August 2019, there were 8,771 farmers markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, a six percent increase since 2014. With the growth in demand for local foods and the increased availability of venues to purchase these foods, individuals are producing and selling more food and beverages made in home kitchens, commonly referred to as cottage foods. Cottage foods are typically those considered low risk for microbial contamination, which could still cause foodborne illness, and do not require time or temperature safety measures for their production or storage. This can include baked goods, candies, condiments, preserves, and dry mixes. Meanwhile, state and local health agencies are often responsible for enforcing food safety laws and regulating food production. By licensing and monitoring food production, health agencies can prevent, reduce, and mitigate outbreaks of foodborne illness. Read More »

Time for a Great American Vape Out?

November 21, 2019|1:03 p.m.| Michael Fraser, PhD, MS

Today is the Great American Smokeout, an event that has been hosted by the American Cancer Society for over 40 years on the third Thursday of November. The event began in the 1970s, when smoking and secondhand smoke were common. It has helped dramatically change Americans’ attitudes about tobacco. Today we should celebrate that high school cigarette use is at an all-time low of 5.8 percent, dropping from 8.1 percent between 2018 and 2019. That is great news. Read More »

Despite Some Prevention Successes, Antimicrobial Resistance Remains a Global Challenge

November 14, 2019|11:46 a.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

For the past 80 years, antibiotics have allowed doctors to treat bacterial infections and control infectious disease outbreaks that would previously have become wide-scale epidemics. However, much of this progress could be undermined by the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance. Although some antibiotic resistance is a natural result of normal antibiotic use, widespread antibiotic use—often for inappropriate reasons—has escalated this process. Nov. 18-24 is U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week, an annual observance to increase awareness of antibiotic resistance. Read More »

Every State Puts Forward Legislation Addressing Prescription Drug Affordability

November 14, 2019|10:58 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

High-cost prescription drugs have a clear budgetary impact for public and commercial payers and consumers alike. Prescription drug costs represent approximately 9.8 percent of total healthcare expenditures, and accounted for $333.4 billion spent on prescription drugs in 2017 (compared to $236 billion only a decade prior). In addition, Medicaid spending on outpatient drugs increased by 21 percent between 2014 and 2015, from $45.9 million to $55.6 million, and by a further 11 percent to $61.9 million in 2016 and is expected to continue growing. Read More »

States Maintain and Increase Vaccine Coverage Through Legislative Action

November 07, 2019|11:35 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Increasing and maintaining vaccine coverage is an important way to prevent the spread of disease and keep communities healthy. Vaccines have greatly reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once killed or harmed infants, children, and adults. Not only can vaccines prevent certain diseases in vaccinated individuals, they can also lower the chance of spreading disease to vulnerable populations such as infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems who are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases and may not be able to be vaccinated. Each year, thousands of adults in the U.S. become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines help prevent. Read More »

How Do We Protect Future Generations from Adverse Childhood Experiences?

November 05, 2019|10:50 a.m.| Debra Houry, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC

As a physician, I know firsthand the importance of preventing injuries and violence. While working in the emergency department, I often saw patients after an acute traumatic event, but just as frequently would see patients with longer term health issues from prior trauma. This helped me better understand the consequences of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma as well as the importance of primary prevention. ACEs are traumatic events that occur in childhood. Examples include witnessing or experiencing violence, having a family member attempt or die by suicide, and growing up in a household with substance abuse. ACEs can lead to risky behaviors, chronic health problems, and diminished life opportunities. Read More »

Governance Policies for Strategic Management of Data

October 31, 2019|4:25 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The amount of data available to public health leaders continues to increase at a rapid pace further emphasizing the need for reliable and secure data management. State and territorial health agencies (S/THAs) receive massive amounts of disparate data from various sources and must find ways to manage, store, analyze, and use this information. Agencies typically house and maintain hundreds of data surveillance systems, each with its own purpose for monitoring disease outbreaks or trends and requiring subject matter expertise and funding resources to maintain. Read More »

Pennsylvania’s Rural Health Model: A Conversation with the Secretary of Health

October 28, 2019|9:45 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Rural communities across the nation are experiencing a significant number of hospital closures. Nationally, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and an additional 21 percent of rural hospitals are at high risk of closure. ASTHO spoke with Rachel Levine, MD, Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to learn how the Pennsylvania Rural Health Model is addressing the sustainability of rural hospitals by redesigning the payment and delivery of care. Read More »

States Take Action to Create Better Health Outcomes for Incarcerated Women

October 24, 2019|10:52 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

The health concerns of incarcerated women are often left out of conversations related to health equity and optimal health for all. Women are incarcerated at an increasing rate; there are nearly eight times as many women in state and local prisons today as there were in 1980. According to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly 75 percent of incarcerated women are between 18 and 44, an age range during which women have specific health concerns surrounding reproductive, prenatal, and postpartum care. Read More »

Business Process Improvement: A Territorial Public Health Agency Perspective

October 21, 2019|4:55 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Catherine de la Cruz-Duran, RN, BSN, MS, is Puerto Rico’s Territorial Health Official Designee and Secretary of Planning, Development, and Federal Affairs. She was born in Buenos Aires Argentina and grew up in Lima, Peru until the age of sixteen when her family immigrated to the United States. She recently retired after 30 years in the U.S. Army, serving in multiple locations during her military career. She was stationed in Puerto Rico at the time of Hurricane Maria and worked as a liaison between the Comfort Naval Hospital and the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH) to evacuate critical care patients from damaged hospitals on the Island to the naval hospital ship. Her experience during Hurricane Maria was a significant event that led her to stay and work for the people of Puerto Rico. Her goal is to advocate for health equity and create opportunities for everyone in Puerto Rico to feel empowered to achieve the highest level of health. Read More »

States Employ Wide Array of Policy Options to Address the Risks of Vaping

October 17, 2019|4:27 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Several states are taking swift action to address the rise of vaping among youth and the nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries. Earlier this month, ASTHO reviewed some of the recent state executive orders, emergency rules, and state legislation aimed at restricting the sale and distribution of flavored vaping products. Read More »

States’ Food, Housing, and Transportation Initiatives Aim to Reduce Health Disparities

October 10, 2019|2:25 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

The environments in which people live, learn, work, play, and worship directly impact health. Considerable evidence supports the connection between housing, food security, and transportation and health outcomes. Further, systemic and structural barriers have created disparities among groups in terms of their ability to be healthy and to live in healthy environments, which has subsequently stymied the opportunity for all communities to achieve optimal health. States are advancing place-based initiatives and implementing policies to build healthy environments that improve health and ensure equitable opportunity for wellness. Read More »

Using the Icelandic Model to Prevent Teenage Substance Use

October 09, 2019|4:26 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

Harvey Milkman, DPhil, is psychology professor emeritus at Metropolitan State University in Denver and principal consultant for the U.S.-Russia Peer-to-Peer Dialogue Program serving at-risk youth. He has devoted his life to researching youth substance abuse prevention and has published numerous articles and co-authored the book Pathways to Self-Discovery and Change: Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment for Adolescents. Read More »

States Take Executive and Legislative Action to Address Vaping and Flavored E-cigarettes

October 03, 2019|10:35 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Youth electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use is a growing concern among state and federal policymakers and a public health issue that FDA claims has “hit epidemic proportions.” E-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco products among youth and young adults, with e-cigarette use growing 900 percent among middle and high school students from 2011 to 2015. An estimated 3.6 million middle- and high-school-aged youth reported using e-cigarettes in 2018. Read More »

Statewide Banning of Flavored E-Cigarettes and Other Strategies to Reduce E-Cigarette Use

September 19, 2019|3:11 p.m.| Marcus Plescia MD, MPH | ASTHO Chief Medical Officer

The use and regulation of e-cigarettes continues to be a major news item across the country as federal agencies take strong action to regulate e-cigarette products. Following public comments from HHS Secretary Alex Azar and President Donald Trump, HHS issued a press release on Sept. 11 announcing that the agency intends to remove all flavored e-cigarette products from the market until manufacturers of those products file premarket tobacco product applications with FDA. This comes at the heels of preliminary findings from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), which indicate that over one quarter of U.S. high school students report using an e-cigarette product in the past 30 days, an increase from 2018 when the rate of past 30 day use was 20.8 percent. Read More »

State Policies Aim to Improve Sepsis Prevention and Treatment

September 19, 2019|11:59 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

September is Sepsis Awareness Month, a time to highlight a serious, life-threatening condition. Sepsis occurs when a body’s immune system overwhelmingly responds to an infection and triggers widespread inflammation, leading to blood clots and leaky blood vessels, which can result in organ damage and death. Sepsis can be caused by a wide range of infections, but is most commonly linked to infections of the lungs, kidneys, skin, and gut. Sepsis occurs in patients across the lifespan, but most commonly in infants and individuals over 65. People with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, lung disease, cancer, and kidney disease, or with weakened immune systems are also at risk for sepsis. While sepsis is cause for daily concern, it is also a national security issue as those who survive in the aftermath of a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear event are at a high risk of also developing sepsis. Read More »

Member Spotlight: Jill Hunsaker Ryan

September 16, 2019|9:39 a.m.| ASTHO Staff

Jill Hunsaker Ryan, MPH, is a public health professional with nearly 25 years of experience in the field. In January, she was appointed by newly-elected Colorado Governor Jared Polis to become the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Prior to her appointment, Director Ryan was a two-term county commissioner, where she focused on determinants of health like affordable housing, healthcare, early childhood development, transit-oriented development, environmental justice, climate action, and mental health services. Director Ryan has a background in health planning and epidemiology, and in 2001 she wrote the state’s first assessment of health disparities, which subsequently led to the creation of an Office of Health Disparities, now called the Office of Health Equity. Director Ryan previously served as manager of the Eagle County Public Health Agency and as vice president of the Colorado Board of Health as a governor's appointee. Read More »

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