GASOPHE’s 2017 Legislative Priorities:
The Georgia Society for Public Health Education (GASOPHE) advocates for policies that will provide all Georgia residents with the opportunity to live healthy lives in healthy communities. GASOPHE will pursue these policy priorities through administrative, budgetary, regulatory and legislative processes. GASOPHE will support the state of Georgia, local communities, schools, and other organizations in the implementation of these policy priorities through partnership and education.
Preventing the harmful effects of tobacco
- GASOPHE supports state and local policies that promote tobacco cessation and smoke free environments. These policies include:
- Raising Georgia’s tobacco tax by $1.00. Georgia has the 49th lowest tobacco tax in the country at just 37 cents per pack. This makes tobacco much more accessible to youth in Georgia and places a significant burden on our Medicaid system. Increasing the tobacco tax to the national average will reduce youth smoking, addiction, and the burden of chronic disease in our state.
- Local city and county wide smoke free ordinances. Smoke free ordinances allow residents to enjoy clean air without the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
- Strengthen the Georgia Smoke Free Air Act of 2005 to include model language following recommendations from the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights
- Investment in policies that support cessation counseling and services, including the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line.
- Support education campaigns that promote the dangers of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) for youth and adults
- Support the Braves stadium in all tobacco free efforts
Ensuring the ability to breathe
GASOPHE supports the adoption, implementation and enforcement of asthma friendly school policy in primary and secondary schools and school systems in Georgia. Research shows that children with persistent asthma miss more school days. In 2010, 58% of school-aged children missed 1 or more days of school because of their asthma. Schools can support asthma self-management by adopting asthma friendly schools policies.
Promoting physical activity as a foundational healthy habit
- GASOPHE supports the reauthorization of Georgia SHAPE by the General Assembly. Georgia SHAPE provides important data about the health of children in the state, facilitates opportunities for health education in schools and homes, and promotes physical activity and nutrition as foundational healthy habits for children.
- Evidence shows that people with more access to green environments, such as parks, tend to walk more than those with limited access. Park and recreation planners can influence community health by increasing access to parks. Therefore, GASOPHE supports policy efforts that will allow all community members access to parks and recreation facilities.
- The walkability of a neighborhood or a community is directly connected to the quality of life for members. Walking rather than driving can help to improve a community’s air quality and reduce carbon emissions. Walking also contributes to a healthy lifestyle for all communities. GASOPHE will support and partner with communities across the state to implement policy and environmental changes that will sustain walkable communities.
Investing in public health and prevention at the state level
- GASOPHE will support re-investment in public health and prevention in Georgia. Our state’s public health system plays a critical role by: vaccinating children, monitoring and preventing epidemics and chronic diseases, ensuring safe food and water, and providing both clinical and community-based preventive services. Despite an increasing need for these services and a growing awareness of the importance of social determinants to population health outcomes, Georgia’s per-capita public health spending is low relative to most other states. This impedes Georgia’s ability to conduct important health and prevention services, including health education in communities and with individuals that can lead improved population health.
GASOPHE supports the federal policy priorities of the National Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE).
Ensuring the right to health and health care
- GASOPHE will support federal health reform policies that ensure that Georgians can access health coverage options that meet their needs, are financially supported through affordability provisions, and are afforded all existing rights and protections of health care consumers.
- GASOPHE will support federal health reform policies that maintain the ability for states to accept federal funds to cover low-income residents who make less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level.
- GASOPHE supports the protection of the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The Fund provides critical financial support to public health programs at the federal, state, and local levels, including $20 million annually in the state of Georgia. Cuts or elimination of the Fund would cripple public health efforts across the country and in Georgia.
Addressing Environmental health
- Climate change and extreme weather events are threatening our health today, and if left unchecked, will lead to increases in disease and death. Immediate action can and must be taken to slow climate change and prepare the public health system to protect our communities from negative health impacts. GASOPHE supports federal legislation, policies and programs that attempt to slow climate change, including but not limited to the CDC’s Climate and Health Program, the Environmental Protection Administration’s Clean Power Plan, and the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act.
- Air free from secondhand smoke and pollutants is important for the health of children, seniors, people with asthma, and other vulnerable populations. GASOPHE supports legislation, policies, and programs that improve air quality for Georgians.
Read more about SOPHE Advocacy Priorities here