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Santa Fe New Mexican-By Steve Terrell | The New Mexican


Photo by: Luis Sanchez-Saturno/The New MexicanAlthough he's campaigned both for president and governor as a tax-cutting Democrat, Gov. Bill Richardson told reporters Monday that tax increases are "inevitable" during the next legislative session because of the budget crisis. "It's very painful," Richardson said. He said he'll soon be appointing a committee to study the best ways to raise revenue. Richardson declined to say which tax hikes might be approved in the Legislature. "Nobody likes them, but we're going to have to have them," he said. If it's true that tax increases might be seriously considered next year, it would be the first time in at least 15 years that raising taxes has been seriously discussed in New Mexico.

When Richardson took office in 2003, cutting personal income taxes and capital gains taxes were among Richardson's chief priorities. He said these actions would help attract high-paying jobs to the state. And in the eight years prior to Richardson, his predecessor, Gary Johnson, made low taxes and small government his hallmark. In the days leading up to the recent special session, Richardson made it clear he would oppose any move to repeal his tax cuts — as unions, the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops and various other advocacy groups are calling for. During the special session, several liberal Democrats complained that Richardson had "tied our hands" by his proclamation that said lawmakers couldn't consider tax increases. "Where was he during the special session?" was the response of one Democratic lawmaker when told about Richardson's statement that tax increases are inevitable.

Richardson at the news conference acknowledged such criticism. Referring to meetings before the session, Richardson said, "I sat here with legislative leaders, and they all agreed we wouldn't have any tax increases this session. Because if we're gonna have (tax increases), we're going to do it in a methodical, practical, positive way." He said there will be more time to study taxes before the regular 30-day session that begins Jan. 19. Terri Cole, executive director of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, who attended the news conference, thanked the governor for "prohibiting tax increases" during the special session. Richardson will find no lack of sponsors next year for tax increase ideas.

State Rep. Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, who during the recent special session introduced measures to raise taxes on alcohol and tobacco as well as the motor vehicle excise tax, said he'll carry similar measures again in 2010. Egolf said he expects public support for the increases, in the face of the state's budget crisis. "These taxes have broad public support as a means to provide the revenue we need to fund our children's education. The taxes on cigarettes will have the added benefit of reducing teen smoking and reducing smoking-related deaths in the future," Egolf said. Increasing the state tax on cigarettes by $1 a pack would generate almost $33 million a year for the general fund, while increasing the cost of alcohol by a dime a drink would bring in about $66 million annually. Raising the motor-vehicle excise tax by 1 percentage point could generate almost $70 million a year.


Heart attack rates drop after smoking bans, continue downward over time

DALLAS, Sept. 21, 2009 — One year after passing smoking bans, communities in North America and Europe had 17 percent fewer heart attacks compared to communities without smoking restrictions, and the number of heart attacks kept decreasing with time, according to a report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.


Help Reduce Teen Smoking

As mentioned below the new law that allows the FDA to regulate tobacco is will go a long way towards informing and protecting Americans from the health threat of tobacco products.

Help us encourage state lawmakers to step up tobacco prevention efforts in NM

There are several ways states can make it tougher for cigarette makers to target youth in their ads and marketing. Click on the link above to learn more and take action today!


Why the FDA Tobacco Law is just the beginning

In June the FDA Tobacco regulation bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. This landmark bill will make it tougher for Big Tobacco to market their deadly product towards children and make false claims regarding “safe” and “reduced risk” cigarettes. It will also force tobacco companies to disclose all of the ingredients in cigarettes including the hundreds of harmful additives.

When the government passed the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act numerous years ago, states across the country were prohibited from taking any action against advertising or labeling of tobacco products for health reasons. With the recent passage of the FDA tobacco regulation bill on the national level, states now have rights to take regulatory action for public health in the marketing and advertising of tobacco products.

States now have the ability to impact control over public health aspects of tobacco labeling and advertising including:

• Supplement the new FDA requirement that all retail ads for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products consist only of black text on white background, applying the same restrictions to cigar and other tobacco products.

• Limit the number or size of tobacco product ads at retail outlets.

• Require that tobacco product or tobacco product ads be kept away from cash registers in order to reduce impulse purchases by smokers trying to quit.

• Restrict or eliminate “power walls” being offered for sale at retail outlets (which will be the only remaining presentation of cigarettes after the FDA

It is important to note that all restrictions of tobacco product ads must still comply with the First Amendment protections for commercial speech.

In addition, by taking action in regards to the marketing and advertising of tobacco products, states still have within their purview to pass comprehensive smoke-free air laws, adequately fund state smoking cessation programs and restrict the sale and distribution of tobacco products.


Richardson open to looking at some tax credits, incentives to close budget gap

Gov. Bill Richardson said today that, while he doesn’t want to scale back 2003 tax cuts or the film incentive program, he may be willing to put an end to some other tax credits and incentives.

“We need to take a look at them, to look to see if some may have outlived their usefulness,” Richardson was quoted by the New Mexico Independent as saying.

Richardson and lawmakers must agree on a way to plug a $433 million shortfall in the current budget. The governor has said he’ll call lawmakers into special session for that purpose in November.

Richardson has said he wants a deal in place before the session begins, and he wants the session to last one day. To that end, he told the Independent that he has named members of his staff to a negotiating team, and he expects lawmakers to do the same.

There will be some resistance to finalizing a fix before the session begins. Some rank-and-file lawmakers have told me they want to make sure they have a chance to represent their constituents in the process, and that the deliberations are open. That’s exactly what the public legislative process is designed to do.


Health Secretary Says New Mexico Must Address Serious Obesity Problem

In response to Trust for America’s Health “F as in Fat” report released earlier this month, Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil, MD, said New Mexico needs to continue to strengthen its obesity-prevention efforts to address a serious problem with obesity.

According to the report:

· Mississippi had the highest obesity rate, 32.5 percent, for the fifth year in a row
· New Mexico ranks as the 36th most obese at 24.6% for adults.
· New Mexico fares worse when it comes to children. 32.7% are either overweight or obese, the 19th highest total in the country.

In the report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America 2009,” obesity-related costs to Medicare and Medicaid are likely to grow significantly as the Baby Boomer generation ages, because of the large number of people in this population, the high rate of obesity and obesity’s negative health impact. See F as in Fat 2009

October Special Session Coming Into View


The outlines of an October special legislative session are starting to come into sight as key players wrestle with one of the steepest economic downturns in state history. State Senator John Arthur Smith, co-chair of the powerful Legislative Finance Committee, is telling insiders that an October special appears inevitable as state tax collections continue a precipitous decline.

The American Heart Association is poised to support a cigarette tax increase that will not only save lives and reduce disease caused by tobacco use, but also raise funds that can be used to further reduce health costs.

Raising tobacco taxes in other states has always reduced smoking and raised revenue. With rising health care costs and budget shortfalls this is the perfect time to raise the tobacco tax.

UNMH Recognized for Quality Heart and Stroke Care

The University of New Mexico Hospital has been recognized for achievement in using evidence-based guidelines to provide the best possible care to patients through The American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association’s “Get with the Guidelines” program.

“We are proud that the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have chosen the ‘America’s Best Hospitals’ issue of US News & World Report to recognize UNM for our achievements in their Get With The Guidelines program,” said Warren Laskey, M.D., chief for the UNM Hospital Division of Cardiology. “Get with the Guidelines gives our professionals the tools and reports they need to effectively treat our coronary heart disease, heart failure and stroke patients.”

UNM Hospital and 569 other hospitals will be featured in a July 28 advertisement in the “America’s Best Hospitals” issue of US News & World Report to commemorate their receipt of “Get with the Guidelines” Gold or Silver Performance Achievement Award. The awards are given for achievement in coronary artery disease, stroke and/or heart failure treatment.

"Get with the Guidelines” is a hospital-based quality-improvement program designed to ensure that hospitals consistently care for cardiac and stroke patients following the most up-to-date guidelines and recommendations. The program addresses coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke. Currently more than 1,450 hospitals participate in the program.

"The American Heart Association is pleased to recognize its top Get with the Guidelines participants,” said. Lee Schwamm, M.D., national chairman of the “Get with the Guidelines” steering committee, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and Vice Chairman of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital.

“Healthcare providers who use “Get with the Guidelines” are armed with the latest evidence-based guidelines and immediate access to clinical decision support, using a set of tools that have been shown to improve delivery of evidence-based care. The goal of this initiative is to improve the quality of life and help reduce deaths and disability among patients with heart disease and stroke.”

HSC Research Pulls In Record $137.5 Million

The New Mexico Health Science Center Office of Research amassed more than $137.5 million in federal research dollars in FY ’09, its highest research grant funding year ever, despite the overall decrease in federal research dollars since 2006. The $137.5 million represents a 15-percent increase over 2005’s $120 million in research and a nearly six-fold jump from 1995’s $25 million.

According to HSC Vice President for Translational Research Richard Larson, M.D., Ph.D. “These dollars multiply several times over as they are infused into our local economy.” Improved grant search and application processes, and stronger and more diverse relationships within the HSC, UNM and outside research communities have led to increased research funding. Approximately half of the $137.5 million was federal money, while the other half came from private organizations, foundations and companies.

“The Health Sciences Center’s research programs are creating high-paying jobs locally that continue to fuel Albuquerque’s and New Mexico’s economic engines,” Larson adds. “More importantly, our research directly addresses New Mexicans coping with debilitating chronic diseases, life-changing catastrophic accidents, and effective preventive health measures.”

Last year’s research awards supported nearly $60 million in high-tech New Mexico salaries with federal money. “As part of our research mission, we are bringing significant new monies, jobs and salaries into New Mexico – rather than tapping state coffers – to resolve local, regional and global health challenges,” Larson points out.


New Mexico Residents Learn about AEDs


Last week the American Heart Association partnered with the YMCA, REI and the American Red Cross to hold a community health and safety event. With our Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) volunteers we were able to train over 300 people throughout the day on CPR Anytime and the basics of AED use. We were also able to talk to more than 500 participants about why it is important to support AED and CPR training in schools reaching our youth. See photos from the event:


National Start! Walking Day Rally at Sunport

Mayor Martin Chavez and The American Heart Association are calling on Albuquerque residents to walk for 30 minutes. Residents can put on their sneakers and support the fight against heart disease by participating in National Start! Walking Day on Wednesday, April 8. This is the day that adults nationwide can make the pledge to Start! walking and to become active and heart healthy, especially in the workplace.

As part of his Fit City initiative to improve the health and enjoyment of life of Albuquerque residents, Mayor Martin Chavez will discuss the American Heart Association’s National Start! Walking Day, the Albuquerque Prescription Trails program, and the Sunport’s adoption of the Start! walking program at a press conference at the Albuquerque Sunport on April 7th at 10:30am. Sunport will be the 3rd airport in the nation to adapt START as their walking program not only for their employees, but also their passengers!

The National Start! Walking Day encourages people to start taking a more active role in their health. Walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity. It’s the simplest positive change people can make to effectively improve their heart health.

The Albuquerque Prescription Trails program encourages people to get up and get moving and provides prescriptions for walking and wheelchair rolling and a walking guide that suggests routes in our community.

The Start! Walking program Is more than a program. It's a movement. Heart disease is this country's No.1 killer. But by exercising for as little as 30 minutes each day people can reduce their risk. The Start! Movement is about walking more, eating better and living a longer, healthier life. The program provides free online tools and trackers to monitor success. The Sunport has jumped on board to get their employees walking and taking a more active role in their health. The Sunport will also implement the program for passengers and will encourage them to “walk before they fly”.

Research has shown that the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you:

Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
Improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels
Improve blood lipid profile
Maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity
Enhance mental well being
Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer
Reduce the risk of non insulin dependent (type 2) diabetes

The American Heart Association makes hosting a National Start! Walking Day event easy. Tips, tools, and promotional materials are provided for free. To download information about Start! or the National Start! Walking Day visit http://mystartonline.org.


Stroke? Dial 911

If you think you’re having a stroke, would you call 911? You should.


Help Improve Our State Trails

We need your help passing a law that will help create beautiful state trails throughout the state. Tell your Senator to vote Yes on HB 273 and help improve our state trails system.

This proposal will make it easier for state trails to be created and improved. New Mexico trails are some of the most scenic in the country and this bill will encourage more people to use them. We want more New Mexicans to be physically active and walking is a great Start!

Walking is one of the best forms of exercise you can get. It’s easy; almost anyone can do it and it’s fun whether alone or with a partner. The health benefits are also outstanding. Research has shown that 30 minutes of walking can:

-reduce risk of heart disease
-improve blood and sugar levels
-lowers risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes

HB 273 has already been passed by the New Mexico House and now needs to pass the Senate. Please thank your Representative and tell your Senator to vote YES!


Cig Tax Update: Mixed Results from Committee Hearing

The proposed cigarette tax increase is still alive in the legislature, but at a lower amount. Instead of a full dollar increase legislators are now suggesting only a 50 cent increase per pack of cigarettes. There is still time increase the amount back to a dollar, and we need your help to deliver our message. Click here to tell lawmakers to support a $1 cig tax increase!

We support a dollar increase for many proven reasons. If New Mexico passed the dollar increase here are the evidence based projections:

-There would be 10,000 fewer adult smokers
-There would be 15,500 fewer youth smokers
-The long term health savings would be over $368 million

Please help us pass the cig tax increase and restore it to a full dollar!

Brian Bowser
Grassroots Coordinator
Advocacy Dept.
American Heart Association, South Central Affiliate


Cig Tax in Committee Today

A proposal that will raise the cigarette tax by a dollar will be heard TODAY in a committee. We need to tell members of the committee to support the cigarette tax increase so it can move forward. Please click here to send your message now!

This issue should be heard around 1:30 PM; please send your message before Noon so it can be fully considered. This bill has already passed one stage of process and we want to keep the momentum going!

Tobacco taxes have proven to be one of the most effective ways of reducing smoking and preventing youths from starting. With tobacco use being a leading cause of preventable death in the state and a major risk factor for heart disease, passing the proposed bill will be a huge win in the fight against heart disease.

With your help, we will pass this tobacco tax increase and reduce smoking in New Mexico. Again, please take action before noon today and share your voice.


Brian Bowser
Grassroots Coordinator

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