A Message from Our President
Angela DeJulius. MD, MPH
In public health it sometimes feels like we take one step forward and two steps back as we are subject to policy decisions that defy science and logic. But occasionally, common sense prevails! Years of work to regulate and curtail tobacco sales and use in Ohio were about to be undone by our state budget bill. So, what a relief it was to see Governor DeWine’s exercise of his line-item veto to remove the tobacco regulation preemption language from the 2024-2025 budget bill. In so doing, he allowed local jurisdictions’ existing tobacco restrictions such as retail license programs to remain in effect, and other jurisdictions to pursue them. The Governor’s veto remains vulnerable to an override by legislators. More on that later.
The Ohio budget bill language would have negated all local ordinances or regulations to control tobacco sales and use. Striking this language allows communities to regulate their businesses and ensure tobacco is not being sold to underage customers. The argument for protecting business profits simply falls apart when the business model is based on selling addictive substances to our youth and perpetuating chronic disease among adults. Profits are important to our economy, but “health is wealth.”
The elephant in the room is the fact that tobacco use accounts for most of the preventable morbidity and mortality in this country. Other threats that concern us such as the carcinogenicity of aspartame or talcum powder, or the safety of Tylenol or over-the-counter birth control, should be taken seriously but simply pale in comparison to the cancers, strokes, heart disease, lung disease, and deaths that are directly caused by tobacco use. The problem is so massive and obvious that we’ve come to accept it as normal and insurmountable. True, we are fighting an uphill battle as our resources in public health will never match those of the tobacco industry. Yet we must continue to work for what we know is right, and we commend the Governor for acknowledging this. Tobacco-free Ohioans are healthier, more productive, and will have lower healthcare costs.
Amid the noise, we must not lose sight of tobacco as an equity issue. Smoking is more prevalent among marginalized populations including racial and ethnic minorities, low-income Ohioans, and the LGBTQ community - some of whom are specifically targeted by tobacco companies’ marketing strategies. We are seeing the same thing happen with vape products, adding a sense of urgency to our efforts.
Ohio’s health outcomes will never catch up to other states, and the US will never catch up to other wealthy nations unless we adhere to common sense and science in our public health priorities and practices. We commend Governor DeWine for acknowledging this and using his line-item veto accordingly. As mentioned, the Governor’s veto could be overridden by legislators. We need your help! Please, contact your legislators – share your concerns about the public health impact of tobacco use and the importance of local control over tobacco restrictions. Your voice matters. If you have questions or need assistance with your outreach, we are here to help!
Congratulations to the students from throughout Ohio who were selected through a competitive process to present their research projects at the Ohio Public Health Conference. Kudos to the following top finishers!
1st Place: Laura Sweet
2nd Place: Gwen Richner
3rd Place: Emma Jankowski
1st Place: Matthew Craver
2nd Place: Julie Strominger
3rd Place: Anuja Sriparameswaran
People’s Choice Awards
Nouf Alsaheil and Amy K. Kuntz
Ohio Journal of Public Health: Spotlight on Current Issues
Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis and the Naegleria fowleri Freshwater Amoeba: A New Concern for Northern Climates
- Karen Towne, Department of Nursing, University of Mount Union; Jonas Scholar 2021-2023; School of Nursing, University of Kansas
- Barbara Polivka, School of Nursing, University of Kansas
Naegleria fowleri (N fowleri), the freshwater amoeba known to cause primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), is historically found in the southern United States and Central America. Increased incidence of this rare, deadly, and often misdiagnosed illness in northern states causes concern that N fowleri is expanding northward due to climate change, posing a greater threat to human health in new regions where PAM has not yet been documented. This case study provides an example of public health nurses incorporating environmental health data into communicable disease investigations, demonstrating how public health professionals, health care providers, and individuals living in northern climates can work together to prevent, detect, and treat N fowleri infection. Read the article HERE.