The COPD community had a very successful COPD Awareness Month thanks to all of your advocacy work! From Washington to Florida, COPD advocates have been visiting with elected officials, conducting letter writing campaigns, participating in awareness events, and spearheading social media activities–resulting in a record number of states passing COPD legislation this year!
This year 46 states passed COPD legislation; primarily governor proclamations and legislative resolutions announcing November 2012 as COPD Awareness Month. Advocates from across the country mobilized to submit proclamation requests to 47 governors from across the country and successfully received 43 governor signatures. These proclamations help raise COPD awareness throughout the states and often introduce elected officials to COPD and its effects in their state. To help keep the momentum going, advocates also wrote to their local newspapers thanking the governor for passing the proclamation and encouraging the community to learn more about COPD. Next year, our goal is to pass governor proclamations in all 50 states to blanket the nation with COPD awareness.
State legislatures also stepped up to help spread COPD awareness by passing resolutions announcing November as COPD Awareness Month or, in New Mexico, Massachusetts and Hawaii’s case, direct the state health department to create a COPD working group or commission to create state-wide COPD prevention strategies and develop education and awareness tools. This type of legislation is a great leap forward but it is up to you, the COPD community, to keep the pressure up by staying loud and involved!
In addition to the passage of a record number of proclamations and resolutions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the first ever state-specific COPD data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) in the November 23rd issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Due to outstanding advocacy efforts in 2010, the BRFSS included COPD in its 2011 survey for the first time to determine its prevalence, collecting data monthly in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Guam. For the first time, we now know which states have the highest prevalence rates (Kentucky with 9.3%) and which have the lowest (Puerto Rico, Washington and Minnesota). We also know that COPD was reported more inwomen, those with asthma, and those with lower income levels. For more information on the BRFSS or to see where your state ranks click here.
Our advocacy activities in 2012 have been strong and have built great momentum, let’s keep up the good work going into 2013! Now that we have this new BRFSS data and 47 states have passed COPD legislation, let’s keep up the pressure to improve the lives of everyone affected by COPD.
Let’s set a goal to pass proclamations in all 50 states, grow our advocacy numbers by getting your friends and family involved, and use the COPD Action Center like never before, flooding your elected officials with letters asking for action on COPD policy issues! Alaska, Rhode Island and South Carolina were the only states that did not successfully pass COPD legislation; if you live in one of these states we especially need you! We need you to help us make COPD a priority in your state next year so we can reach our goal of achieving COPD action in all 50 states.
Great work in 2012 advocates! Let’s keep it up as we bring in the new year!