Category Archives: Tobacco control
Kelly Buettner-Schmidt, MS, BSN, is executive director of Healthy Communities International at Minot State University, and a doctoral fellow with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nursing and Health Policy Collaborative at the University of New Mexico. She has been awarded numerous grants for her work on tobacco control policy. This post is part of the "Health Care in 2013" series.
This is an exciting time for the U.S. health care system or, as I prefer to call it, the U.S. health system (because health “care” system limits what one includes as part of the “system”). As a public health professional for nearly 30 years—about 20 years as a frontline public health nurse, and now 10 years in academia—I have discovered the need to educate people on all that the state and federal public health systems do to improve the health of not only individuals and families but also communities.[i] [ii]
More than half of my professional career, both as a practitioner and academic, has focused on tobacco prevention and control policies.[iii] Professional and nursing colleagues, acquaintances, friends, and family often think of my work in tobacco control policy as separate from my public health nursing career. The reasons for this, I believe, are at least two-fold. First, nursing is often equated with direct client care; second, the tobacco industry effectively confuses many into believing the science of tobacco control is controversial and thus spending public health and tax dollars on tobacco control seems wasteful to the public. (As an aside, many nurses are involved in tobacco control. Please join us!)[iv],[v],[vi]
Voters across the country were presented Tuesday with more than 170 ballot initiatives, many on health-related issues. Among them, according to the Initiative & Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California:
- Assisted Suicide: Voters in Massachusetts narrowly defeated a “Death with Dignity” bill.
- Health Exchanges: Missouri voters passed a measure that prohibits the state from establishing a health care exchange without legislative or voter approval.
- Home Health Care: Michigan voters struck down a proposal that would have required additional training for home health care workers and created a registry of those providers.
- Individual Mandate: Floridians defeated a measure to reject the health reform law’s requirement that individuals obtain health insurance. Voters in Alabama, Montana and Wyoming passed similar measures, which are symbolic because states cannot override federal law.
- Medical Marijuana: Measures to allow for medical use of marijuana were passed in Massachusetts and upheld in Montana, which will make them the 18th and 19th states to adopt such laws. A similar measure was rejected by voters in Arkansas.
- Medicaid Trust Fund: Voters in Louisiana approved an initiative that ensures the state Medicaid trust fund will not be used to make up for budget shortfalls.
- Reproductive Health: Florida voters defeated two ballot measures on abortion and contraceptive services: one that would have restricted the use of public funds for abortions; and one that could have been interpreted to deny women contraceptive care paid for or provided by religious individuals and organizations. Montanans approved an initiative that requires abortion providers to notify parents if a minor under age 16 seeks an abortion, with notification to take place 48 hours before the procedure.
- Tobacco: North Dakota voters approved a smoking ban in public and work places. Missouri voters rejected a tobacco tax increase that would have directed some of the revenue to health education.