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Vermont, few others get passing grades for tobacco control

first_imgThe American Lung Association released its State of Tobacco Control 2010 report today, which tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the federal and state level, assigning grades based on whether laws are adequately protecting citizens from the enormous burden caused by tobacco use.This year, the Lung Association applauds the federal government for major advances in protecting citizens from tobacco-caused illnesses but faults most states for lagging behind and failing to enact much-needed laws and policies.Tobacco continues to take a devastating toll. Each year, 443,000 people die from tobacco-related illnesses and secondhand smoke exposure, making tobacco the leading cause of preventable death. In addition, it costs the economy more than $193 billion annually in healthcare costs and lost productivity.”President Obama and our leaders in the 111th Congress enacted what will be regarded as the strongest tobacco control policies thus far in American history,” said Charles D. Connor, American Lung Association President and CEO. “While we still have a long way to go, for the first time, the Administration and the Congress joined forces to squarely confront the tobacco epidemic.””Sadly, most of our states are failing miserably when it comes to combating tobacco-caused disease,” Connor added. “Despite collecting millions of dollars ‘ and in some cases billions ‘ in tobacco settlement dollars and excise taxes, most states are investing only pennies on the dollar to help smokers quit.”It takes combined state and federal resources to reduce tobacco-related disease and death, as the tobacco industry will continue to adapt and engage in deadly deception. In 2010, the tobacco industry used new ways to push its products and target kids in a drive to replace dying customers. These tactics ranged from color-coding packages in order to falsely imply less harmful cigarettes, to pitching smokeless tobacco in order to get more young people hooked and keep current smokers addicted.FEDERAL ACTIONThe American Lung Association recognizes progress made at the federal level to protect people from the dangers of tobacco.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began implementing landmark legislation passed in 2009 to restrict tobacco marketing and sales to kids, to end misleading health descriptors and to require larger health warnings on cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.On a separate front, Congress passed healthcare overhaul legislation in 2010 that greatly expanded benefits for tobacco cessation treatments to help people quit. Most private insurers will now be required to offer quit smoking treatments, and all pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid also have access to these services.In another enormous stride, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the first time incorporated both cessation and prevention of tobacco use as a cornerstone of a national strategy to reduce chronic disease and healthcare costs.In this year’s State of Tobacco Control report, the federal government earned a “B” for FDA regulation of tobacco products, with the American Lung Association urging FDA to take aggressive action in regulating the marketing, sales and manufacturing of tobacco products; a “C” for coverage of cessation treatments among major federal health care programs; a “D” for the federal cigarette tax; and a “D” for failure to ratify the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty.STATE ACTIONMany states continued to bank on cigarette taxes for new revenues to help balance budgets in hard times, but most failed to invest in programs to help smokers quit and prevent kids from starting.Six states raised cigarette excise taxes in 2010. Higher prices will encourage smokers to try to quit, but most smokers who ended up paying more for a cigarette pack got no additional help from the state to end their addiction to tobacco.Low-income smokers suffer the greatest impact from this disturbing trend because they cannot afford higher cigarette prices and have the most difficulty accessing effective quit smoking treatments.”Most states are ducking the responsibility to help smokers quit,” Connor continued.Forty states and the District of Columbia earned an “F” for funding tobacco prevention and control programs at needed levels, and 37 states earned an “F” for failing to offer comprehensive quit-smoking treatments to Medicaid recipients and state employees as well as make proper investments in state quitlines. Progress in states’ passage of comprehensive laws protecting the public and workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke slowed to almost a standstill. Only one state, Kansas, passed a comprehensive smokefree law.”To finally break tobacco’s grip on America’s health, it takes a harnessing of resources by every state as well as by the federal government,” Connor said. “The annual report card spells out what they’re doing right and where they must work harder to achieve that vision.”Overall Scores ‘ No state earned straight “A’s.” Only Arkansas, Montana, Maine, Oklahoma and Vermont achieved all passing grades, although, Oklahoma barely passed with straight “D’s.” Receiving all “F’s” were Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.Tobacco Prevention and Control Programs ‘ Forty states and the District of Columbia earned “F’s” for spending at less than 50 percent of the level recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Alaska and North Dakota alone earned “A” grades for funding tobacco prevention and control programs and achieving the CDC-recommended funding levels.Cessation Treatments ‘ Thirty-seven states earned “F’s” for failing to offer comprehensive tobacco cessation treatments to Medicaid recipients and state workers, and making recommended investments in state quitlines. No state earned an “A” grade.State Cigarette Taxes ‘ Despite a continuing trend toward increased cigarette taxes, only five states qualified for an “A” grade by collecting excise taxes of $2.90 per pack or more.Quitlines ‘ For the first time, the State of Tobacco Control provides a more complete picture of state cessation efforts by including data about quitlines in the state cessation grade. These are free, phone-based programs that provide services to help callers quit tobacco use. All 50 states and the District of Columbia operate a quitline, although the services and treatment provided vary. Quitlines provide a vital aid for smokers who have no other way to get or pay for treatment and they are often dramatically underfunded.Smokefree Air Laws ‘ Kansas was the only state that passed a strong smokefree air law in 2010. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have now passed comprehensive smokefree laws, making public spaces and workplaces smokefree. The pace for passage has declined dramatically since 2006-2007, when 16 states and the District of Columbia met the American Lung Association’s Smokefree Air Challenge.For more information or to download a copy of the report, please visit www.stateoftobaccocontrol.org(link is external).About the American Lung AssociationNow in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a Charity Navigator Four Star Charity and holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.LungUSA.org(link is external).SOURCE American Lung Association WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —last_img read more

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Protect your transaction information and gain efficiencies with blockchain

first_imgIn the world of financial technology, things can move quickly, and keeping up with the latest trends and activities can be a monumental task. One of the latest and most promising industry trends is the use of blockchain, a shared digital ledger of transactions.What is blockchain?Blockchain first came to recognition as the foundation of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. Bitcoin uses blockchain to structure, verify, and keep track of all bitcoin data. Blockchain is made up of blocks of transactions chained together and shared with the entire network. In the credit union world, the blocks are essentially transaction statements, chained in chronological order and visible to all participants in that banking system. A blockchain serves as a full digital ledger of all transactions.Blockchain securityWhile blockchain may be used to assist and increase efficiencies in a number of industries, blockchain’s tamper-proof security offers huge advantages to credit unions in particular. Due to blockchain’s cryptography, data validation requirements, and time stamps, it’s next to impossible to manipulate data in a blockchain. Data entered in a block cannot be changed, and transactions cannot be reversed. When blocks are added to the chain, another layer of security makes it even more unlikely anybody could disrupt any portion of the data. Here’s how blockchain keeps financial information safe:Blockchain distributes information on a need-to-know basis. Detailed financial information is available only to the parties involved in a specific transaction.General ledger information about every transaction is available to the entire network, providing transparency and the opportunity for all network members to verify that transactions are handled correctly. Each network participant is able to change its own data only; since no member is able to change the overall ledger, all participants enjoy the highest level of security.How credit unions can use blockchainThere are a number of potential uses for blockchain technology in credit unions:Credit unions could realize substantial savings in staff hours, audits, and document storage requirements by using blockchain’s digital ledger in place of their own transaction records.Blockchain could be used to make retail payments and payments between countries faster, more efficient, and more secure.Blockchain’s ledger and detailed transaction data could be used to verify the sale and purchase of securities.The future of blockchain in credit unionsIf you’re investigating blockchain or considering using blockchain technology in your credit union, you’re in good company. According to a report by IBM, 15% of banks expect to use blockchain commercially this year. Blockchain may provide a smart way to cut costs while retaining the records required in the highly regulated credit unions world. In a study of eight top world banks, Accenture suggested that blockchain may help banks cut operational costs by 30%! For additional information on the current state of payments and regulations, download our new ebook, Meeting Consumer Self-Serve Payment Demand. 47SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Brad Young As COO of The Financial Institution Group’s AutoPilot® Services, Brad Young manages and consults on all aspects of SWBC’s suite of risk and account management services, including collections, … Web: www.swbc.com Detailslast_img read more

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Musings from a night with Mike Tyson

first_imgUNDISPUTED TRUTH—Mike Tyson speaks during his show, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” on opening night, April 14, at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/SPI Entertainment, Kirvin Doak Communications, Erik Kabik) LAS VEGAS (AP)—The urge struck me about halfway through Mike Tyson’s latest adventure, just after he told the audience about how his mother loved the bottle more than she loved him. Or maybe it was when the big video screens showed a young Tyson serving as a pallbearer for Cus D’Amato, the man who molded his boxing career and the only man he really loved.The former baddest man on the planet once made opponents and anyone who came into his path shake with fear. On this night, though, it was all I could do not to run up on stage and give him a big hug. Surely a lot of those gathered in a hotel theater just down the hall from where Tyson had some of his biggest fights felt the same way. How could they not after watching him bare his soul for assorted VIP’s and anyone willing to pay $117.49 to hear his story?It was billed as “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” and there’s still time to catch it if you have the cash and can get to the MGM Grand hotel before Wednesday’s final performance. Beware, though, because this is more about Tyson’s greatest misses than it is about his greatest hits.“Many of you wondered what the hell Mike Tyson was going to do on stage tonight,” Tyson said at the beginning of the show. “I was wondering the same thing.”Actually, I had a good idea because I’ve been listening to it for years. So did Tyson, because the show is mostly scripted—credit is given to wife Kiki—and he knows the subject material because he’s lived it.That he’s still alive at the age of 45 after all that living is remarkable enough, a fact Tyson himself acknowledged on stage. Any combination of the women, the fights, the drinking and the heavy cocaine use could have done him in at any time.“I’m coked up and fat,” he said at one point, gazing up at a Los Angeles police booking shot of himself on the video screen. “I’m a fat cokehead.”That he’s transformed himself into something far different than his fearsome former self is even more remarkable. He’s now America’s Guest, a comedian/actor/storyteller who finds it both therapeutic and financially lucrative to talk about a time gone by, when he mesmerized the world with his wild and crazy ways.Some of it can still make you shift uncomfortably in your seat, like when Tyson talks about being with Japanese prostitutes before his upset loss to Buster Douglas in Tokyo. Some of it makes you wonder, like his conflicted feelings toward ex-wife Robin Givens, 20 years after their divorce. Some of it makes you laugh, none more so than the 10 minutes Tyson devoted to his infamous street brawl with fellow fighter Mitch “Blood” Green in New York.“I hit him so hard I broke my hand,” Tyson said. “But I broke his face, too.”The idea of Tyson doing a one-man show that people would actually pay to see seems a bit ludicrous. Somehow, though, it works—in a lot of ways.His thin, high-pitched voice isn’t made for the stage, but the tales he tells are compelling and he delivers them with a showman’s flair. He’s backed by a singer and a five-piece band, and the message he brings is one of redemption and forgiveness.Redemption for himself. Forgiveness for others, like his alcoholic mother, and promoter Don King.“When I first met Don I didn’t realize I was meeting the (insert your own word here) devil,” Tyson said. “But Don and I made peace. Forgiveness is my new motto. I hope it works for me.”Forgiveness goes only so far, though. The people in Indiana who put him in prison for three years for rape apparently don’t merit it, even as Tyson acknowledges the lockup may have saved his life.“There’s a lot of things I could have gone to jail for and I deserved to go to jail for,” he said. “But this wasn’t one of them. I didn’t do it and I will never admit doing it.”Strangely enough, the show barely touches on the biggest moments in Tyson’s career. There’s no footage of him knocking out Trevor Berbick to become the youngest heavyweight champion ever at the age of 20, nothing on the video screen from his 91-second destruction of Michael Spinks.The only two fights he really talks about were among the lowest moments of his life. He’s seen getting knocked out by Douglas, and there are pictures of him biting Evander Holyfield’s ear.He explains the Douglas loss to the fact he was cavorting with Japanese prostitutes instead of training. The ear biting, he says, was mostly Holyfield’s fault for head butting and the fact referee Mills Lane “hated my guts.”Fair enough. It’s Tyson’s show, so he can say what he wants, even if he risks rewriting history in the process. But this show is more about feelings than punches, and if you couldn’t figure it out when he was talking about his beloved Cus, you got the idea at the end when the band played “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Tyson added the voiceover of his troubled life.The audience that mostly filled the 740-seat Hollywood Theater on this night was a loving one, with one woman shouting out “You’re doing great, Mike” as he paused during one particularly bleak story. They gave him a standing ovation when he took the stage, and many did the same when he finally left it two hours later.A good night for all. About the only thing missing was a group hug at the end.last_img read more

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Thurston County to Conduct Annual Homeless Census on January 24

first_imgFacebook1Tweet0Pin0Submitted by Thurston County Board of CommissionersOn Thursday, January 24, 2019, Thurston County will conduct the annual Homeless Census to determine who in Thurston County is homeless and why. The Homeless Census is part of a nationwide “Point in Time” (PIT) Count of Homeless People.With the dramatic increase in visible homelessness in the urban hub and other parts of Thurston County, this year’s PIT Homeless Census has taken on a greater sense of urgency. The number of homeless people nearly doubled from 441 in 2016 to 835 in 2018. Results of the PIT Homeless Census will help to guide our public funding and policy making. The final report will also include an assessment of available resources to help people get back to independence.“We have never had this many unsheltered people on our streets and in our woods across the County in cities both big and small,” said Schelli Slaughter, Director of Thurston County Public Health and Social Services. “Now more than ever, we need to work together to learn how we can help solve this crisis.”During the PIT Homeless Census, all shelter and transitional housing providers will count people staying with them on the night of the count and volunteers will fan out across the County to find unsheltered homeless residents living out of doors, in vehicles, in abandoned buildings, and other places not intended for human habitation. Homeless guides will also go into homeless camps to survey residents.Other activities will include street outreach and outreach to regular community meals, food banks, and other places that offer survival commodities. Four homeless outreach events include:Single adults:  Providence Community Care Center in OlympiaYouth:  Rosie’s Place – Community Youth Services in OlympiaFamilies:  Family Support Center – Downtown Olympia headquarters (prior their move to the Westside)Rural People:  Rochester Organization of Families – RochesterVolunteers from across Thurston County assist with homeless census activities. Volunteers include residents from local schools and colleges, non-profit organizations, faith communities, businesses, elected officials, and the homeless themselves.Commission Chair John Hutchings, who participates in the PIT Homeless Census each year, said, “While it’s hard to ask the questions and hear the stories of our house-less neighbors, it’s always a deeply moving experience to see people from across the County coming together to help. Without these volunteers, we couldn’t do this important activity.”The results of this census are compiled into the County’s annual “Point in Time Count of Homeless Persons Report”, often referred to as the annual homeless census report, and is used to strengthen a more regional approach to the issue. This report serves to:Accurate Count of Homeless People, the causes of their homelessness and other demographic information;Quantifies Needs based on numbers of homeless people, which in turn brings in federal and state dollars to provide homeless shelter, transitional housing and other services;Assessment of Resources current available resources; andAnalysis of Needs and Resources to serve as the basis for local strategic responses to homelessness.Homelessness is an issue that affects the individuals experiencing homelessness, but it also impacts other parts of our community. “It’s critical for our County to know who the homeless are before we can figure out how to help them get back on their feet,” said Olympia Council Member Jessica Bateman. “This is very important in Olympia, because most of the existing resources are concentrated here. When our homeless safety net fails, it hurts not only our homeless neighbors, but it also impacts our downtown and neighborhoods.”Background on the Thurston County Homeless CensusAnnually, in January, all Washington counties conduct a “Point in Time” count of homeless persons as mandated by the State of Washington’s Homeless Housing and Assistance Act (RCW 43.185C.030). This statute requires each County to “make every effort to count all homeless individuals living outdoors, in shelters, and in transitional housing, coordinated when reasonably feasible, with already existing homeless census projects including those funded in part by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) under the McKinney-Vento homeless assistance program”. The County reports census results to the state and federal governments to ensure a proportionate level of public funding for local shelters, transitional housing, and related supportive services. These numbers also help to create the most accurate picture of homelessness throughout the state and across the nation. Locally, census results are shared with all community stakeholders— policy makers, funders, service providers, concerned citizens, and the homeless themselves.Thurston County is the owner of the Homeless Census project but contracts, via Interlocal Agreement, with the City of Olympia to conduct the census.For more information on the 2019 Homeless Census, please contact: Anna Schlecht, Homeless Census Coordinator, [email protected], (360)753-8183, or Whitney Bowerman, Homeless Census Manager, [email protected], (360)570-3746last_img read more