RHA Statement on Governor Rauner’s Veto of Tobacco 21

On Friday, August 24, 2018, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed Senate Bill 2332, legislation that would have substantially reduced youth smoking and saved the state hundreds of millions of dollars in future health care costs by raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 from 18.

Respiratory Health Association (RHA) is incredibly disappointed in Governor Rauner’s decision to veto this legislation after it passed the Illinois General Assembly.  The bill is also supported by a majority of Illinois residents. A recent study, conducted by Fako and Associates, showed that two out of three adults in Illinois support Tobacco 21, a figure that is even higher among current and former smokers.

A cornerstone of RHA’s work has been to reduce the toll of tobacco on our communities, particularly among our youth. At this point, 26 communities across the state have adopted local laws to raise the tobacco purchase age. These local laws cover more than 30 percent of the state’s population and will remain in full force and effect.

Tobacco 21 laws are important because 95 percent of adult smokers take up the habit before they turn 21. By raising the purchase age from 18 to 21, the law would have helped keep tobacco out of schools and away from teens.

“Too many kids are being exposed to tobacco products in their teenage years,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO, Respiratory Health Association. “If we can keep kids away from tobacco until they’re 21, they’re far less likely to become addicted and can live healthier lives.”

Tobacco 21 also would have yielded significant health and economic benefits.  The Institute of Medicine estimates that raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 could result in a 12 percent decrease in smoking rates by the time today’s teenagers become adults. RHA estimates that in Illinois alone the law would save $500 million in future healthcare costs and avoid $500 million more in lost productivity associated with smoking and tobacco related illnesses.

“Respiratory Health Association is undeterred.  We will continue to fight to protect kids across Illinois from smoking and tobacco addiction in the next legislative session. Tobacco 21 is the right thing to do,” continued Africk.

To date five states – California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon – and hundreds of municipalities around the US have raised the tobacco purchase age to 21.

Prior to working on Tobacco 21, RHA advocated strongly for the Smoke-free Illinois Act, which passed in 2007. That legislation was the strongest statewide smoke-free law in the country.

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Chicago since 1906. A policy leader, our organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for Tobacco 21 and Other Tobacco Product policies. For more information, visit www.resphealth.org.

Environmental and Public Health Groups Challenge US EPA’s Decision to Exclude Areas from Ozone Non-attainment List that Would Trigger Clean-up

Environmental and Public Health Groups Challenge US EPA’s Decision to Exclude Areas from Ozone Non-attainment List that Would Trigger Clean-up

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2018

Contact: Judith Nemes
(312) 795-3706
[email protected]

Washington, D.C.On August 2, the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and Respiratory Health Association (RHA) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the EPA’s final rule, published in June 2018, that identified areas that meet and fail to meet the 2015 ozone air quality health standard.

ELPC and RHA are challenging the exclusion of certain areas in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana from the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis “non-attainment” areas that have smog levels above the 2015 standard.

“EPA has sadly disregarded the plain facts and sound science in making these designations,” said Howard Learner, ELPC’s Executive Director. “EPA has not followed the letter or the spirit of the Clean Air Act and has excluded areas involving unhealthy air quality for millions of Midwesterners. Cleaner air is essential to public health and a strong economy in our region.”

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to designate non-attainment areas in counties where air quality fails to meet federal health standards for ozone and where local emissions contribute to unhealthy air quality. The states must then take steps to reduce emissions of the air pollution that cause smog.

In 2015, EPA issued a more protective ozone air health standard, which triggered a process to identify violating areas so that clean air planning could begin. In the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis areas, EPA originally proposed more comprehensive non-attainment areas, but excluded certain areas in its final decision in June in response to requests from the states.

“We are very concerned that EPA would dial back these decisions,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs at Respiratory Health Association in Chicago. “Everyone deserves to breathe clean air, and EPA’s decision puts area residents at risk of more lung infections, asthma attacks, and hospitalizations for respiratory problems.”

Ozone is formed when pollution emitted by power plants, industrial facilities, motor vehicles and other activities reacts with sunlight to form ozone. Ozone, also known as “smog,” is a lung irritant and harms people with asthma or other respiratory diseases, older adults, children and other vulnerable people. It can drive kids and sensitive adults inside on hot sunny summer days  and put outdoor workers at risk.

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Tobacco Policy Experts & CEO Available to Discuss Tobacco 21 Legislation

Interview Availability: Tobacco Policy Experts & CEO Available to Discuss Tobacco 21 Legislation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 23, 2018
Erica Krutsch
Desk: 312-628-0226
Cell: 734-262-4527

WHAT:            Respiratory Health Association, a local leader in tobacco policy change and key advocate for Tobacco 21 in Illinois, has expert staff available for comment on the passage of Tobacco 21 in Illinois.

WHY:               In communities across Illinois, the passage of local Tobacco 21 laws has led to significant declines in cigarette use by youth. In Chicago, where the Tobacco 21 law was accompanied by other City efforts to tighten laws restricting youth access to tobacco, the effect appears to be even more dramatic.

The health consequence of this development is significant because 95 percent of smokers start before the age of 21, making early intervention a key strategy in building a tobacco-free generation.  Each year tobacco use costs Illinois $5.49 billion in health care costs and $5.27 billion in lost productivity, according to research from the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.

Respiratory Health Association serves as Healthy Chicago’s community co-leader for tobacco control and offers evidence-based tobacco control strategies and smoking cessation programs. Respiratory Health Association played a leading role in the passage of Smoke-Free Illinois and has been a strong advocate for statewide adoption of Tobacco 21 in Illinois.

WHEN:             Immediately 

WHO:  Joel J. Africk – President and Chief Executive Officer
             Respiratory Health Association
              Available on site or by phone

              Matt Maloney – Director, Health Policy
             Respiratory Health Association
              Available on site or by phone

WHERE:        Respiratory Health Association

                        1440 West Washington Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Metropolitan Chicago since 1906. A policy leader, our organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies.  We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for Tobacco 21 and Other Tobacco Product policies.  For more information, visit www.resphealth.org.

Over 200 Cyclists Ride to Fight Lung Disease at CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2018
 
Contact: Erica Krutsch
Desk: 312-628-0225 
Cell: 734-262-4527

Over 200 cyclists ride to fight lung disease at CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour

WHAT: Respiratory Health Association’s CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour is an annual cycling event from Lake County, Illinois through southern Wisconsin. Over 200 cyclists of all ages from across Chicagoland will line up at Gurnee Mills to pedal as far as 190 miles in Respiratory Health Association’s 22nd annual CowaLUNGa Charity Bike Tour. Participants will bike 18 miles, one, two or three days and cross the finish line in Hubertus, Wisc. The event will raise $200,000 for Respiratory Health Association’s lung disease research and programs.

WHY: The tour raises awareness and funds to fight lung diseases such as asthma, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and to support clean air and other healthy lung initiatives. This year’s event kicks off with special guests Illinois State Senator Terry Link, Lake County Board Member Paul Frank and youth advocates for lung health from the Catalyst Youth Prevention Group of Stevenson High School. Respiratory Health Association will thank participants for the important roles they played in passing Illinois’ new Tobacco 21 legislation, which raises the tobacco purchase age to 21 from 18, a policy proven to reduce teen smoking. The deadline for Gov. Rauner to sign Tobacco 21 into law is August 27.

WHEN: Saturday – Monday, August 4, 5 and 6, 2018. Start line media opportunities begin at 7:00 a.m. Ride begins at 9:00 a.m.

WHERE: Start line located in Gurnee Mills Parking Lot H, at the intersection of Interstate 94 and Grand Avenue (IL 132) in Gurnee, Ill. Cyclists will travel through southern Wisconsin Aug. 5 and 6 with stops in Williams Bay, Whitewater, and Hubertus, Wisc.

SCHEDULE FOR PHOTO/VIDEO OPPORTUNITIES:

  • 7:00 a.m. Riders begin arriving in Gurnee Mills Parking Lot H to check in
  • 9:00 a.m. The Charity Bike Tour officially kicks off with Lake County legislators ringing the official start line bell. Riders depart for Wisconsin as a mass start.
  • Media opportunities at other points of the ride can be arranged by contacting Erica Krutsch, RHA Director of Marketing & Communications, at 734-262-4527.

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES (REQUESTED IN ADVANCE IF POSSIBLE):

  • Hundreds of cyclists, many of whom are personally affected by lung disease
  • Youth advocates for lung health from the Catalyst Youth Prevention Group of Stevenson High School (Lincolnshire, Ill.), representing the youth sector of Stand Strong Coalition
  • Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association
  • Illinois State Senator Terry Link
  • Lake County Board Member Paul Frank

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader since 1906. Today, the association works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air and help people live better through education, research and policy change. For more information, visit www.resphealth.org.

Governor Signs New ‘Stock Asthma Rescue Medication’ Law Making Schools Safer for Children with Asthma

Governor Signs New ‘Stock Asthma Rescue Medication’ Law Making Schools Safer for Children with Asthma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 7, 2018

CONTACT:
Erica Krutsch
Director, Marketing and Communications
Respiratory Health Association
Desk: (312) 628-0225
Cell: (734) 262-4527

Illinois schools are one step closer to creating a safer environment for students living with asthma. Stock Asthma Rescue Medication in Schools (SB 3015) was passed by the Illinois Legislature this spring and signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner on August 3rd.

Illinois now joins ten other states including Indiana and Missouri in adopting similar policies regarding stock asthma medication. Early results in other states indicate that these policies reduce the need for 911 calls and EMS transports as a result of asthma attacks. Initial data also demonstrate that these policies reach populations of need and improve health outcomes.

Stock Asthma Rescue Medication in Schools—SB3015, now Public Act 100-0726—improves access improves access to life-saving medication by allowing schools to stock ‘undesignated’ asthma rescue medication and allowing school nurses and trained school staff to administer the medication at the first signs of respiratory distress. This legislation builds on a 2014 Illinois law allowing schools to stock undesignated epinephrine auto-injectors to protect those who may experience a severe allergy in school.

Across Illinois, more than 330,000 children have reported asthma; however, fewer than twenty-five percent of those children have their asthma under proper control. That means three out of four kids living with asthma are likely to experience symptoms of respiratory distress, leading to increased emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

“We applaud our lawmakers for their leadership and for taking this important action which will better equip schools to handle asthma emergencies,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “This new law, which allows schools to stock asthma rescue medication, builds on existing school policies to create a safer environment for all. We look forward to working with all stakeholders on the implementation of this law.”

“Asthma attacks can occur without warning and because of this, children with asthma should always have access to asthma rescue medication (Albuterol). Asthma rescue medication administration in a school setting allows kids to remain in the classroom and avoids costly emergency room visits. Without this medication, the attack often worsens and can become life-threatening,” said Craig E. Batterman, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Southern Illinois University Medicine.

Asthma causes an estimated 300,000 missed schools days per year in Illinois, which in turn leads to days of work missed by adult caregivers. Asthma-related annual health care costs in Illinois are projected to reach $1.9 billion by 2020.

“Illinois has made great strides in helping children with asthma attend school without the fear that their schools will be unprepared for an inevitable asthma attack,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “SB 3015 will help children even more by allowing asthma medication to be kept at the school, similar to EpiPens.”

“Thankfully, administering albuterol has minimal side effects.  By comparison, the consequences of not treating or delaying treatment of a child experiencing respiratory distress can be dangerous. SB 3015 will give schools the ability to quickly respond to asthma emergencies and work with students and families on proper asthma management at school,” said Amy Zimmerman, a Program Director at Legal Council for Health Justice.

Respiratory Health Association and Legal Council for Health Justice worked together to pursue a stock asthma rescue medication policy in Illinois. They published an issue brief assessing the fit and feasibility of stock asthma rescue medication in Illinois schools, which is available for download on Respiratory Health Association’s website resphealth.org.

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906. The organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful policies and programs to improve the lives of those living with asthma.  We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for asthma prevention and management policies and provide asthma management programs for underserved communities. For more information, visit www.resphealth.org

Legal Council for Health Justice conducts education, outreach, and advocacy to address discrimination, disadvantage, and disparities in health, wealth, and well-being across the lifespan of vulnerable populations. Through our award winning medical-legal partnerships we target people impacted by chronic, disabling and stigmatizing health and social conditions to empower them to lead fulfilling lives, reach their self-determined goals, and secure and plan their futures. For more information visit www.legalcouncil.org.

First Air Pollution Action Day of 2018 Called

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2018

CONTACT:
Michele Reyes
Coordinator, Marketing and Communications
Respiratory Health Association
Desk: (312) 628-0226

 

First Air Pollution Action Day of 2018 Called

CHICAGO – Respiratory Health Association is alerting the public that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency issued an Air Pollution Action Day alert to individuals in the Chicago Metropolitan area for Saturday. As a result of the high temperatures and low wind speeds, air pollution levels, specifically ground-level ozone, are expected to reach the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category. This is the first Action Day issued for 2018. Due to weather conditions, ozone smog levels may remain high for several days over the holiday weekend.

An Air Pollution Action Day is declared when weather conditions are such that widespread ozone or fine particulate matter (PM2.5) levels are expected to be at or above the “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category on the U.S. EPA’s Air Quality Index for multiple days. Saturday, May 26th is expected to meet these criteria, therefore, an Air Pollution Action Day is being declared. At increased levels, ground-level ozone poses a potential health hazard to sensitive populations, especially individuals with respiratory or pulmonary conditions as well as active children and adults. Those individuals should take special precautions and follow their physician prescribed regimen. Residents should keep cool and limit physical activity when air pollution levels are high.

Employers and residents of the Chicago metropolitan area are asked to follow “Green Actions” (as described below) to reduce contributions to air pollution. These groups are also encouraged to share air quality forecasts and Action Day alerts with colleagues, friends and family to help protect their health.

  • Take public transit, Rideshare, walk or bike.
  • If driving, avoid idling, consolidate errands and run them after 7 p.m. when sunlight is not as strong.
  • Avoid using gasoline-powered equipment on Air Pollution Action Days.
  • Switch to energy efficient light bulbs.
  • Set your thermostat up 2 degrees.
  • Turn off and unplug electronics not in use.
  • Use environmentally-friendly household and cleaning products.
  • Use a charcoal chimney or gas grill instead of lighter fluid when grilling.
  • Do not burn leaves and other yard waste.
  • Sign-up to receive air quality forecasts via email at enviroflash.info!

Up-to-date information on daily air quality for the Chicagoland area can be found at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s www.airnow.gov webpage.

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in metropolitan Chicago since 1906. Today, the association addresses asthma, COPD, lung cancer, tobacco control and air quality with a comprehensive approach involving research, education and advocacy activities. For more information, visit www.resphealth.org.

Latest Study Shows Persisting Racial Disparities among Chicago Children with Asthma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2018

CONTACT:
Erica Krutsch
Director, Marketing and Communications
Respiratory Health Association
Desk: (312) 628-0225
Cell: (734) 262-4527

Latest Study Shows Persisting Racial Disparities among Chicago Children with Asthma

Emergency Department visit rates for African Americans 75% greater than citywide average

CHICAGO – For over a decade, researchers, clinicians and community-based organizations have recognized and worked to address racial disparities in asthma. Chicago has also been identified as an epicenter for asthma, with higher prevalence in minority communities on the city’s west and south sides.

On World Asthma Day, Respiratory Health Association released a new report showing little progress in addressing racial disparities among Chicago children with asthma. The report focuses on rates of asthma-related emergency department (ED) visits from 2009-2015.

Key Findings Include:

  • African American children accounted for over 63 percent of all asthma-related emergency department visits recorded in 2015.
  • The rate of visits by African Americans remained 75 percent greater than the citywide rate.
  • Asthma-related pediatric ED visits translated to an estimated $18.7 million in health care charges. According to Medical Expenditure Panel data, the average charge for an asthma-related ED visit in Chicago was $2,116. Application of that figure to the 8,848 asthma-related pediatric ED visits in Chicago in 2015 suggests health care charges of more than $18.7 million.
  • Racial disparities led to $6.1 million in preventable health care charges. Had the 2015 rates of ED visits among African American and Latino children been equal to the rate of visits by White children, asthma-related ED charges could have been reduced by nearly $6.1 million.

Download the full report.

“It is clear we need to do more to understand and address the disparities in asthma,” said Joel Africk, President and Chief Executive Officer, Respiratory Health Association. “Poorly managed asthma leads to missed school days, reduced health outcomes and overall lost opportunities. No child should fall behind because of a manageable condition like asthma.”

Asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism, causing an estimated 300,000 missed schools days per year in Illinois, which in turn lead to days of work missed by adult caregivers.

In addition to lost educational opportunity and productivity, asthma represents a large financial burden for Chicago. When treated properly, asthma can most often be managed in a primary care, outpatient setting. Since a primary care visit is estimated to cost five times less than an ED visit, improvements in education, care and treatment can significantly reduce the economic burden of asthma.

Respiratory Health Association is calling for more research into trends in asthma; better data tracking of asthma prevalence and demographics; broadened support of community-based asthma programming to promote asthma management; and additional collaboration between research, practice and policy partners as initial steps to close the gap in racial disparities among children with asthma.

“Reducing racial disparities in asthma is one of the top priorities identified in the city’s Healthy Chicago 2.0 agenda. The City of Chicago has made tremendous progress in advancing policy changes that impact asthma outcomes like dramatically reducing youth smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke and protecting the environment through innovative sustainability initiatives,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner, Julie Morita, MD.

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906. A policy leader, our organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful policies and programs to improve the lives of those living with asthma.  We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for asthma prevention and management policies and provide asthma management programs for underserved communities. For more information, visit www.resphealth.org.

Media Alert: News Conference on Racial Disparities among Children with Asthma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2018

CONTACT:
Erica Krutsch
Director, Marketing and Communications
Respiratory Health Association
Desk: (312) 628-0225
Cell: (734) 262-4527

Latest Study Shows Persisting Racial Disparities Among Chicago Children with Asthma

News conference with Julie Morita, MD, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner 

WHO:       President & CEO of Respiratory Health Association Joel Africk, Dr. Julie Morita, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Ken Fox, Chief Health Officer for Chicago Public Schools and Dr. Ruchi Gupta, pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, will discuss new data on racial disparities in pediatric asthma.

WHAT:     Data analysis by Respiratory Health Association shows little progress in addressing racial disparities among Chicago children with asthma. The report focuses on rates of asthma-related emergency department visits from 2009-2015.

                 African American children accounted for over 63% of all asthma-related emergency department visits recorded in 2015. The rate of visits by that group remained 75% greater than the citywide rate. In addition, racial disparities in childhood asthma contribute to over $6 million in avoidable health care charges each year in Chicago.

WHEN:     World Asthma Day – May 1, 2018 at 10:00 AM

                  Speakers will be available for interview beginning at 10:20 AM

WHERE:   Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

                 225 E Chicago Ave, 11th floor conference center

WHY:        Chicago has been identified as an epicenter for asthma, with higher prevalence in minority communities on the city’s west and south sides.

                 Following the news conference, leaders in asthma research and policy will convene for a short summit to discuss next steps and recommendations for increasing health equity among Chicagoans with asthma.

About Respiratory Health Association

Respiratory Health Association (RHA) has been a local public health leader in Chicago since 1906. Our mission is to prevent lung disease, promote clean air and help people live better through education, research and policy change. RHA’s asthma education programs teach 2,000 Chicago students asthma management techniques each year.  For more information, visit www.resphealth.org.

State Lung Health Education Day Brings Constituents to Springfield to Fight Lung Disease – Wednesday, April 18, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2018

CONTACT:
Erica Krutsch
Director, Marketing and Communications
Respiratory Health Association
Desk: (312) 628-0225
Cell: (734) 262-4527

State Lung Health Education Day Brings Constituents to Springfield to Fight Lung Disease – Wednesday, April 18, 2018

WHAT:     Respiratory Health Association’s State Lung Health Education Day is an annual advocacy event. More than 30 constituents from across the state travel to Springfield, IL to meet with elected officials and advocate for policies that address lung disease and clean air.

This year, RHA’s top policy priorities include:

  • Raising the purchase age of tobacco to 21
  • Permitting schools to stock emergency asthma medication
  • Raising awareness of COPD, lung cancer, cystic fibrosis and asthma
  • Promoting clean renewable energy 

WHEN:     Wednesday, April 18, 2018   9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

WHERE:   Illinois State Capitol, Springfield, IL

SCHEDULE FOR PHOTO/VIDEO OPPORTUNITIES:

  • 5:30 am – 6:00 am – Bus loading at RHA offices in Chicago
  • 9:30 am Arrival in Springfield, IL
  • 9:30 am – 1:00 pm legislative visits

INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITIES – REQUESTED IN ADVANCE IF POSSIBLE

  • Lung disease patients and family members participating in State Lung Health Education Day.
  • Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association.
  • Matt Maloney, Director, Health Policy, Respiratory Health Association.
  • Senator Dave Koehler, sponsor of asthma legislation
  • Senator Julie Morrison/Rep. Camille Lilly Sponsors of Tobacco 21

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader since 1906. Today, the association works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. For more information, visit www.resphealth.org.

‘Stock Asthma Rescue Medication’ Legislation Aims to Protect Students with Asthma

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2018

CONTACT:
Erica Krutsch
Director, Marketing and Communications
Respiratory Health Association
Desk: (312) 628-0225
Cell: (734) 262-4527

‘Stock Asthma Rescue Medication’ Legislation Aims to Protect Students with Asthma

CHICAGO – Illinois schools are one step closer to creating a safer environment for students living with asthma. Stock Asthma Rescue Medication in Schools (SB 3015) passed the Illinois Senate unanimously on Wednesday, April 25. A House vote is expected soon.

Since 2001, Illinois students have been allowed to carry asthma medications in school, but what happens if those medications are left at home, run out or are simply unattainable?

Across Illinois more than 330,000 children have reported asthma; however, fewer than twenty-five percent of those children have their asthma under proper control. That means three out of four kids living with asthma are likely to experience symptoms of respiratory distress, leading to increased emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

Children from minority and low-income households are even more likely to face barriers in access to medication and other asthma management resources that can lead to poorly controlled asthma and emergency department visits. Indeed, emergency department visits for asthma in Illinois occur among African American children at nearly six times the rate of visits by White children.

“While current rules allowing students to self-carry and self-administer asthma medications are good first steps, those policies don’t help if a student faces barriers to obtaining medications or simply forgets his or her medication at home,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “Allowing schools to stock asthma rescue medication builds on existing school policies to create a safer environment for all.”

Stock Asthma Rescue Medication in Schools (SB3015) improves access to life-saving medication by allowing schools to stock undesignated asthma rescue medication and allowing school nurses and trained school staff to administer the medication at the first signs of respiratory distress.

“Asthma attacks can occur without warning and because of this, children with asthma should always have access to asthma rescue medication (Albuterol). Asthma rescue medication administration in a school setting allows kids to remain in the classroom and avoids costly emergency room visits. Without this medication, the attack often worsens and can become life-threatening,” said Craig E. Batterman, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Southern Illinois University Medicine.

Asthma causes an estimated 300,000 missed schools days per year in Illinois, which in turn lead to days of work missed by adult caregivers. Asthma medical costs in Illinois are projected to reach $1.9 billion by 2020.

“Illinois has made great strides in helping children with asthma attend school without the fear that their schools will be unprepared for an inevitable asthma attack,” said State Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria). “SB 3015 will help children even more by allowing backup inhalers to be kept at the school, similar to EpiPens.”

Ten other states have adopted similar policies, including Indiana and Missouri. Early results indicate that these policies reduce the need for 911 calls and EMS transports as a result of asthma attacks. Initial data also demonstrate that these policies reach populations of need and improve health outcomes.

“Thankfully, administering albuterol has minimal side effects; however, not treating or delaying treatment of a child experiencing respiratory distress can have dangerous health consequences.  SB 3015 will give schools the ability to quickly respond to asthma emergencies and work with students and families to ensure ongoing proper asthma management at school,” said Amy Zimmerman, a Program Director at Legal Council for Health Justice.

Respiratory Health Association and Legal Council for Health Justice worked together to propose a stock asthma rescue medication policy in Illinois. They recently published an issue brief assessing the fit and feasibility of stock asthma rescue medication in Illinois schools, which is available for download on Respiratory Health Association’s website resphealth.org.

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Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906. A policy leader, our organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful policies and programs to improve the lives of those living with asthma.  We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for asthma prevention and management policies and provide asthma management programs for underserved communities.  For more information, visit www.resphealth.org.

Legal Council for Health Justice conducts education, outreach, and advocacy to address discrimination, disadvantage, and disparities in health, wealth, and well-being across the lifespan of vulnerable populations. Through our award winning medical-legal partnerships we target people impacted by chronic, disabling and stigmatizing health and social conditions to empower them to lead fulfilling lives, reach their self-determined goals, and secure and plan their futures. For more information visit www.legalcouncil.org.