“I was honored to join AHA President, Dr. Timothy Gardner, Government Relations Manager Derek Scholes, and dozens of our public health partners at the White House yesterday when President Obama signed the FDA Tobacco Bill.
It was a great privilege to join our public health partners in celebrating over a decade of work to further this important legislation. I can’t think of another piece of legislation that has the support of over 1,000 public health organizations who worked tirelessly to advance this cause. The American Heart Association remained at the forefront of this fight with key partners, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the American Cancer Society and American Lung Association.
The significance of this legislation on the health of Americans can’t be emphasized strongly enough. I am grateful to our You’re the Cure Advocates, and American Heart Association staff and volunteers across the country who have devoted so much time and energy to make this day a reality.
I’ve had several people ask – “so what was it like to be at the White House”? The signing celebration was actually in the Rose Garden, which is as beautiful in person as it is on television. The President was joined by Vice President Biden, and over a dozen key Members of Congress who were there smiling broadly as the bill was signed. President Obama made a very passionate speech about the importance of the bill, the lives it will save, and the savings to our healthcare system we will realize because of improved public health. He even commented on his own use of tobacco, which began when he was a teenager. Check out the photos posted below of the signing ceremony.
Following the ceremony, we joined other AHA DC-based staff at a celebration party hosted by the American Cancer Society. There, I was able to share my thoughts on the significance of this bill to the AHA, our mission, and the public we serve. John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, the volunteer chairman of the board of the American Lung Association, and Matt Myers, CEO of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids also talked passionately about the impact this bill will have.
It was such an honor to represent all of the AHA volunteers and staff on such a significant day. I will remember this day always.
As an interesting aside, I asked our two former CEO’s recently to reflect upon their visits to the White House as well as on the decade long fight for FDA regulation. Both Cass Wheeler and Dudley Hafner have been blogging and twittering about their experiences over the years in the fight for FDA regulation of tobacco products. Dudley shared with me yesterday that he visited the White House three times when he was CEO: Once with President Reagan, and twice for visits with President Clinton, all to talk about the importance of and need for strong public policy in the area of tobacco control. Cass also had several opportunities to visit the White House during his tenure as CEO, and he even ran a short race with President Clinton early in his years as CEO…
Thank you again for all of your work to advance this critical piece of legislation that will truly change the health of Americans.”