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American Public Health Association adopted 12 new policy statements at 140th Annual Meeting

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American Public Health Association adopted 12 new policy statements at 140th Annual Meeting

San Francisco, Calif., January 3, 2013 – The American Public Health Association adopted 12 policy statements during its 2012 Annual Meeting last fall. The policy statements address a wide array of public health topics ranging from the environmental and health concerns of fracking, to taxing sugar sweetened beverages, to a call for cessation of military recruitment in schools. The policy statements are now available online and searchable in APHA’s policy statement database at http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/.

Below, find brief summaries of the 10 newly adopted policy statements and two late-breaker interim policy statements approved by APHA’s Governing Council on Oct. 30, 2012. The policy statements have been copyedited and finalized. To view the full 2012 policy statements, visit the above link.

20121 National Physical Activity Plan – Recognizing the National Physical Activity Plan, adopted in 2010. Provides a roadmap for actions that support progress in increasing physical activity among Americans and calls for forming partnerships with other national and state organizations to disseminate and promote the plan. Also calls for steps such as providing an emphasis on the importance and need for culturally specific and tailored interventions to improve overall conditions that contribute to population disparities and to encourage individual members and staff to adopt and maintain a physically active lifestyle as recommended by the plan.

20122 Taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages – Acknowledging that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic and increases the risk for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dental decay, calls for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to discourage consumption by adults, young adults and children and to raise money for obesity prevention in children. Calls on local, state and federal governments to impose excise taxes on all sugar-sweetened beverages and for the public health community to collaborate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others to monitor the impact of the taxes.

20123 Military recruiting in schools – Calls for cessation of military recruiting in public elementary and secondary schools. Calls for Congress to repeal the provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act that mandate public schools collaborate with military recruiters by providing full access to school buildings and student contact information. Urges the U.S. Department of Defense to restrict its recruiters from entering public schools and to revise recruiting manuals to refrain from "predatory" recruiting practices. Calls on the U.S. Department of Education to advise parents on how to opt out of having contact information referred to recruiters.

20124 Working conditions in global electronics industry – Calls for improving occupational and environmental conditions in the global electronics industry. Spotlights the rapid growth of the manufacture and use of electrical and electronic products accompanied by increased use of toxic chemical substances and a subsequent rise in adverse health outcomes. Recommends development of precautionary, health-based exposure limits, age limits for employment and specific work activities based on hazards, implementation of green design, formation of expert advisory panels and tracking and reporting of diseases linked to the electronics sector in electronics-producing countries.

20125 Health impacts of fracking – Considering the environmental and occupational health impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of unconventional gas reserves, calls for increased public health capacity to monitor, regulate and respond to fracking in local communities. Recommends adoption of regulations that take a precautionary and adaptive approach. Calls for protecting worker health and promoting the role of public health professionals in natural gas extraction activities and for the public health community to advocate for planning and policy approaches that take into account the uncertainty around fracking.

20126 Coastal watersheds, waters and human health – Calls for improving management of modern environmental insults to address emerging pollutants, failing infrastructure, climate change and industrial operations. Calls for strengthening the capacity of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement federal water quality rules and strengthening national standards for the reduction of pollution through an emphasis on preventing runoff at the source. Also calls for building capacity at the state and local levels to administer watershed protections.

20127 Occupational information in health records – Calls for incorporating occupational information in electronic health records because work environment has a well-recognized influence on health through exposures to physical, chemical and other hazards as well as stress and other working conditions that can be detrimental to health. Calls on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to implement the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine's 2011 "Incorporating Occupational Information in Electronic Health Records" report.

20128 Secure Communities program – States that the federal Secure Communities program, or S-COMM, has disrupted public health and safety in immigrant communities. Under the program, fingerprints of all arrestees are forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security for matching, which, the policy states, has led to race-based police stops and pretext-based arrests of both documented and undocumented immigrants. Calls for abolishing the program to remove negative effects on the health and health care access of immigrant communities and to remove a persistent and growing friction between federal, state and local authorities.

20129 Facilitating multisite research, establishing appeals process – Proposes changes to the Common Rule in the Code of Federal Regulations that governs ethics, safety and oversight of human research and delegates authority to institutional review boards, at research institutions. The proposed changes include making one board of record for domestic, multisite research studies and requiring an independent appeal process of a review board decision. Calls for public health departments to enter into collaborative agreements with universities, hospitals and health systems that cover board review of multisite research.

201210 Health impact assessments – Calls for health impact assessments to be institutionalized at the federal, state and local levels. Calls for building capacity to maximize the potential of health impact assessments to increase health considerations in planning. Recommends emphasizing monitoring and evaluation as a necessary component of health impact assessments to help practitioners ensure their practice follows guidelines and meets professional standards. Underscores the potential for health impact assessments to add value to routine governmental decision-making.

The following two late-breaker policy statements serve as interim policy until the 2013 APHA Annual Meeting and must be resubmitted for the full 2013 policy review cycle.

LB-12-01 Preserving dental amalgam – Recommends dental professionals continue the use of dental amalgam as a restorative material given its long track record of safety and effectiveness. Calls for regulatory agencies to implement requirements for training, including continuing education, regarding best management practices to minimize release of mercury from dental amalgam into the environment. Calls for schools and programs educating dental professionals to place greater emphasis on education and training for all dental personnel regarding mercury hygiene.

LB-12-02 Overdose prevention via naloxone – Acknowledges that despite evidence to support the value of expanding access to and utilization of naloxone among pain patients and individuals who misuse or abuse opioids, the medication is only available to laypeople in 15 states and the District of Columbia through facilities such as drug treatment programs, community-based organizations, parents' groups and medical clinics. Notes that community-based overdose and education and naloxone distribution programs do not exist in many states with the highest rate of opioid use and overdose deaths. Calls for a coordinated national effort focused on prevention of overdose fatalities.

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