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Be At Your Peak This Holiday Season

You can be the best you – at your peak this holiday season – by eating smart, moving more and making your well-being a priority. And you don’t have to put these healthy habits on pause during the holidays. We’ve got lots of ways to make the healthy choice the easy choice, as well as the fun and festive choice!

  • Choose seasonal fruits and vegetables to give your meals, snacks and party dishes that healthy holiday spirit. Try apples, dates, leafy greens, pears, pumpkin, root vegetables, sweet potato and winter squash. If you have a farmer’s market near you, walk or bike there for a bit of extra exercise.
  • Enjoy some of the special treats and splurges of the season without overdoing it. Balance is the key. For example, if you’re going to miss your workout for a holiday event, walk during lunch or ride your bike to work. If dinner is going to be a feast, opt for a light lunch.
  • Commit to staying healthy during the holidays. For example: “For the next three weeks I will move more and do something active every day, have a healthy breakfast and limit the sweets, and get at least seven hours of sleep each night.” If you don’t completely give up your healthy habits, you won’t feel like you have to start all over once the holidays are in the rear-view.
  • Eat smart at special holiday events. They often serve up extra helpings of less-than-healthy foods. If you’re a guest, eat a healthy snack before you go to avoid overdoing it at the event. If you’re the host, challenge yourself to offer some delicious and healthier options using our recipes and cooking tips. Your guests will thank you.
  • Keep the family active. When the kids are out of school, squeeze in some active chores and trips to the park. Break up the video game marathon with a physical activity break. Take advantage of cooler weather to get moving outdoors.

Find more ways to stay at your peak at www.heart.org/HealthyforGood.

 

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Sweet Caroline

By: Caroline’s Mom, Melissa Guarracino

“Caroline is a sassy, intelligent and charismatic 5-year-old.”

We have a trend in our little family to only use due dates as a (very, VERY) general guideline. None of our children have been born in the month they were due. So, when my late August due date came and went for baby number 3 and September began, all I could do was laugh. Caroline arrived, on her own time, in the early morning of September 4th, 2013, 5 long days late. We had a slew of visitors on day 1 including her older brother & sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents & dear friends. We were smitten and so thankful for this little life after an incredibly rough year of loss & grief in our extended family.

Eager to get some rest after her busy birth day my husband Nick and I sent Caroline to the nursery in the late evening of September 4th with the request to bring her back for her feeding. Right on schedule, in the wee hours of the morning the nurse wheeled Caroline in right next to my bed.

About an hour after feeding Caroline I was awoken by a wonderful nurse and attentive physician’s assistant who switched on the lights in our room to let us know that they had come to take stats and noticed that Caroline’s color was off – she might have said dusky, I was so tired it’s a blur. She assured us that it was likely nothing but she was going to take her to the NICU for a bit to have her checked out. We had been through this drill before with our oldest, George, who needed a few weeks in the NICU to strengthen his lungs after birth so we didn’t worry too much and we drifted back off to sleep. A few hours later we woke up and Caroline was still not in our room. We decided to find a wheelchair for me and go find her. We were directed to the NICU, which brought back a slew of emotions for both of us.

In the NICU amongst the beeping & chirping of machines we found Caroline in room 4. Our prior experience reminded us that the lower the number (out of 4), the closer you were to going home. Not good, Caroline. We stood by her open crib (good sign) and commented on how good she looked! A kind neonatologist approached us and asked us if anyone had been by to talk to us about Caroline. Nope, not yet. So he asked us to join him in “Caroline’s Room” within the NICU space to discuss what they’d found. Nothing could have prepared us for the news he delivered. Caroline was born with three complex heart defects. Transposition of the Great Arteries, Ventricular Septal Defect and Coarctation of the Aorta. Whoa. Our first reaction was – can you fix this? He assured us that she had some of the most easily fixable defects. Easily fixable with open heart surgery doesn’t sound easy at all when your baby’s heart is the size of a walnut. We were terrified, heartbroken and so overwhelmed.

The next week involved a lot of research, a lot of questions, many red tear-filled eyes & so much support from those around us. We had everyone from our pediatrician to our families to our new friends at Yale rallying for our sweet girl. We sought out second opinions, researched the pediatric heart surgeons, educated ourselves on her specific defects and tried our hardest to balance our time at the hospital with time at home bringing our older two children up to speed on why Caroline wasn’t coming home.

At 8 days old, Caroline underwent 9 hours of open heart surgery. We filled the waiting room with family who worked hard to feed us, make us laugh and distract us. The surgery blew by the expected duration which is when our anxiety ramped up. An hour after we thought she’d be out we were called to a conference room. Caroline’s body temperature was being brought back up and the surgeon informed us that the repairs were successful.

Caroline’s recovery was slow & steady. She was in the hospital a total of 20 days from birth to discharge. We felt so incredibly thankful for modern medicine.  Born 40 years earlier, our sweet girl most likely would have not had the same outcome.

We continue to have Caroline checked out every 4-6 months. She has only needed one additional intervention since her surgery – and is a sassy, intelligent, charismatic 5-year-old. You would never know of her newborn struggles unless you saw the scar on her chest. Just last night Caroline was asked about what that mark was on her chest. She tentatively looked at me and then back at the young girl asking and proudly said, “that’s where they fixed my heart!”

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2018 Hartford Heart Walk Co-Chairs Announced

        Corliss Montesi

The American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, announces Corliss Montesi of Stanley Black & Decker and Kay Mooney of Aetna, as co-chairs of the 2018 Hartford Heart Walk. The 26th annual Hartford Heart Walk will take place on Saturday, October 6 at a NEW location, the Yard Goats Stadium in Hartford.

Montesi and Mooney will lead the organizational and recruitment efforts in the greater Hartford area. They will call on thousands of area volunteers, survivors, walkers, and business leaders to step up to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular disease and stroke, the leading cause of death in the United States.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with over 7,000 deaths in Connecticut each year”, said Montesi. “I am eager to take on this leadership role once again and have the opportunity to promote health and wellness. Stanley Black & Decker has been a strong supporter of the American Heart Association and we are committed to continue our support to advance this lifesaving mission.”

           Kay Mooney

“Our commitment to heart health extends beyond this one day”, said Mooney. “Working to improve the lives of our employees and our community is a year-long effort at Aetna. By helping the American Heart Association, we are making an impact on our collective health and making a difference in the fight against heart disease and stroke.”

The Hartford Heart Walk will attempt to raise more than $375,000 to fund research and education to fight heart disease and stroke. Each day, nearly 2,400 Americans die from a cardiovascular disease. That’s an average of one death every 37 seconds.

Corliss Montesi is Vice President, Corporate Controller, at Stanley Black & Decker, a worldwide supplier of hand and power tools, industrial equipment, and security solutions. Corliss leads a global organization in all aspects of accounting, controls and trade compliance. A passionate supporter of women and diversity, she is also an Executive Sponsor of the SBD Women’s Network.

Kay Mooney currently serves as Vice President of Workforce Well-being & Inclusion for Aetna. In addition to overseeing the strategic design, delivery and administration of the company’s employee and retiree benefits, Mooney leads work to understand the many determinants of well-being and build programs that address the greatest area of opportunity – all in line with the company’s strategy of creating a health care experience that’s simpler and more responsive to individual needs.

To learn more about the Hartford Heart Walk, or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, please call Wendy Schrlau at (203) 303-3317 or go to www.hartfordheartwalk.org.

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American Heart Association and Hartford HealthCare Join Together to End Stroke In Connecticut

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA), along with Hartford HealthCare, are encouraging Connecticut residents to join to end stroke, the state’s fourth leading cause of death.

Despite claiming more than 133,000 lives annually in the United States, and an average of 1,300 deaths a year in Connecticut, as many as 80 percent of strokes remain preventable.


Most people who have a stroke have high blood pressure so it’s important to know your blood pressure numbers and keep them under control to help prevent stroke. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg. Nearly one in six American adults with high blood pressure don’t know it, according to AHA/ASA.

“Awareness is also key when it comes to stroke treatment,” said Donna Handley, President of Backus Hospital. “That is why Hartford HealthCare is working with the AHA/ASA to educate our employees and citizens of Connecticut through a social media and public service campaign featuring the signs of stroke. We believe that if people understand what a stroke is, we can prevent more lives from being lost or permanently altered by them.”

For many strokes, getting the right treatment immediately can save lives and improve recovery. The American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke™ initiative, sponsored nationally by Medtronic and locally sponsored by Hartford HealthCare, teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. to help people to recognize the most common stroke warning signs and what to do if one occurs:

  • F – Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • T – Time to call 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.

The AHA and Hartford HealthCare stroke awareness campaign kicks off in June and will continue through World Stroke Day, taking place on October 29th.

For more information about stroke visit StrokeAssociation.org.

 

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American Heart Association Announces Co-Chairs for the 2018 Eastern Connecticut Heart Walk

The American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, announces Kevin Brown of Mohegan Tribe and Donna Handley of Hartford HealthCare will co-chair the 2018 Eastern Connecticut Heart Walk. The annual event will take place on Sunday, September 23 at the Mohegan Reservation in Uncasville. 

 Brown and Handley will lead the organizational and recruitment efforts in eastern Connecticut. They will call on thousands of area volunteers, survivors, walkers, and business leaders to step up to fight cardiovascular diseases.

“Working in the healthcare industry, I understand the need for continual support in the fight against heart disease through funding and awareness,” said Handley, “Hartford HealthCare is committed to helping people live healthier lives and by supporting the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk – we are joining together to advance their lifesaving mission of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease while encouraging a culture of physical activity.”

The Eastern Connecticut Heart Walk will attempt to raise more than $370,000 to fund research and education to fight heart disease and stroke. Each day, nearly 2,400 Americans die from a cardiovascular disease. That’s an average of one death every 37 seconds. A leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke is lack of physical activity. Research has found that individuals may gain two hours of life expectancy for every one hour of regular, vigorous exercise they do.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and it is no secret that it affects the Native American community at rates higher than most others,” said Brown. “This is one of the many reasons I take particular pride in continuing my co-chair role where I have the opportunity to help promote health and wellness and change these statistics. On behalf of the Tribe, we are honored to once again host the annual walk and are so proud of the dedication, commitment and support of our team members who participate each year – leading the way in the state and region helping to continue to support the American Heart Association’s lifesaving mission.”

In her role as President of Hartford HealthCare’s East Region, Donna Handley provides executive leadership for the East Region which includes The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, Windham Community Hospital in Willimantic, the Plainfield Emergency and Ambulatory Center, various outpatient clinics and urgent care centers.

Kevin Brown is serving his second term as chairman of the Mohegan Tribe. As chairman, Brown is responsible for maintaining the sovereignty that the Mohegan Tribe fought hundreds of years for, overseeing its numerous business entities and ensuring the well-being of its more than 2,100 Tribal citizens. Brown also serves as Chairman of the Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) Management Board which oversees gaming entities across the country, as well as two professional sports teams.

To learn more about the Eastern Connecticut Heart Walk, or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, please call John Brannelly at 203-295-2941 or go to www.EasternCTHeartWalk.org.

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The American Heart Association launches Innovation Challenge to Identify Health Solutions that Address Social Determinants of Health

Applications sought through June 8 for initiative that awards $30,000 in grants

 

The American Heart Association is seeking applicants for the 2018 Northeast Health Equity Consortium Innovation Challenge, a grant-based initiative to identify innovative, clearly-defined solutions to improve the health and well-being in urban communities in New England, New York and New Jersey.

 

Community environments play a crucial role in health outcomes. People living just five miles apart can have a difference in life expectancy of more than 20 years. That’s why the American Heart Association – the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke – is seeking fresh ideas to impact health.

 

The Innovation Challenge will provide funding to the best creative solutions that increase healthy living behaviors, enhance the chain of survival and cultivate community transformation. Successful applicants are expected to use data and/or research to address issues such as inadequate housing, education, access to healthcare, and healthy food access. Candidates must complete an online application by the June 8 deadline.

 

Finalists are expected to be available to present their project before an audience at the Northeast Health Equity Consortium on June 28, in Hartford, Conn. Three projects will be selected to receive an $8,000 award. An additional six projects will be invited to attend the conference and be recognized with a $1,000 award.

 

The odds are stacked against low-income communities and communities of color. That is why the American Heart Association is focused on improving social determinants of health, the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age that influence their health outcomes. The Association is committed to ensuring that all Americans have equal opportunity to make choices that lead to good health.

 

For additional information about the Innovation Challenge and to submit an application, click here or visit https://americanheart.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4YGpBpcGlehPnCt.

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Connecticut Residents Can Fight A Silent Killer With Blood Pressure Management Program

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over thirty percent of adults in Connecticut have high blood pressure and many more may be at risk.

 

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, offers the free Check. Change. Control. ® program to help individuals identify, track, lower and maintain healthy blood pressure levels. As part of the program, participants check their blood pressure regularly either using an at-home device or available screening locations in the community and have access to resources to help them reach their blood pressure goals. In Connecticut, the American Heart Association issued a statewide Check It! Challenge to encourage residents to get checked and to track their progress at www.ccctracker.com using the campaign code CHKCT.  Participants commit to checking their blood pressure twice each month, changing to healthier habits, and work towards controlling their blood pressure.

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a pressure of 130 systolic or higher, or 80 diastolic or higher, that stays high over time. Nearly half of the American population over age 20

has high blood pressure, and African-Americans are disproportionally impacted.

 

“Organizations and community groups that provide blood pressure screenings are helping save lives,” says Connecticut American Heart Association Community Health Director, Lisa Neff. “High blood pressure is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., behind smoking cigarettes. You can see a cigarette in someone’s hand and know it’s bad, and a smoker knows they’re smoking. You can’t see or feel high blood pressure. Check. Change. Control. provides an educational platform as well as a tool for individuals to use and that accountability within the program can really help motivate people to improve their health.”

 

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, African-Americans in the United States have the highest rates of high blood pressure than any group in the world –

nearly half of blacks in the U.S. have it. In addition, compared with whites, blacks have nearly twice the risk of fatal stroke. About half of the higher stroke risk can be attributed to high systolic blood pressure readings.

 

“With a concerted focus on controlling blood pressure by self-monitoring, we can help people avoid very costly consequences such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and even death, particularly among African American communities,” said Neff.
While there is no cure, using medications as prescribed and making positive lifestyle changes can help enhance your quality of life and reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and more.

Make changes that matter:

By adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, you can reduce high blood pressure, prevent or delay the development of high blood pressure and enhance the effectiveness of blood pressure medications. You will also lower your risk of a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney damage, and vision loss.

While heart disease is still the number-one killer in the United States and around the world, death rates have decreased significantly, thanks in part to earlier and better treatment of high blood pressure. Joining the Check It! program can help you begin on a path of better health.

 

For more information about Check. Change. Control. and the Check It! program in Connecticut contact Lisa Neff at 203-295-2954 or Lisa.Neff@heart.org.  For information about high blood pressure, visit www.heart.org/hbp.

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Anthem President Supports Heart Health in New Haven

The American Heart Association, the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases, announces Jill Hummel, president, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, as chair of the 2018 Greater New Haven Heart Walk. The 2018 New Haven Heart Walk will take place on Saturday, May 5. Registration opens at 9:00am and the Walk kicks off at 10:00am at Savin Rock in West Haven.

 As chair, Jill Hummel will lead the organizational and recruitment efforts in the New Haven area. She will call on thousands of area volunteers, survivors, walkers, and business leaders to step up to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular disease and stroke, the leading cause of death in the United States.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with over 7,000 deaths in Connecticut each year”, said Ms. Hummel. “Working with the American Heart Association in many capacities over the past several years, I am happy to have the opportunity to continue to promote health and wellness to help change these statistics and raise the funds needed to support such a critical cause.  Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield has been a strong supporter of the American Heart Association and we are committed to continue our support to advance this lifesaving mission.”

Each day, nearly 2,400 Americans die from a cardiovascular disease. That’s an average of one death every 37 seconds. A leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke is lack of physical activity. The New Haven Heart Walk encourages physical activity while raising funds to support research, advocacy and awareness of cardiovascular disease and stroke research has found that individuals may gain two hours of life expectancy for every one hour of regular, vigorous exercise they do.

To learn more about the Greater New Haven Heart Walk, or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, please call Emily Linley at (203) 295-2936 or go to www.NewHavenHeartWalk.org.

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Four tips to move more in April

The American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good™ Challenges
All People to Move More and Live More

Staying active is a no-brainer when it comes to improving how you look and feel, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 56.1 percent of New York adults are getting the recommended amount of aerobic physical activity. This month the American Heart Association, the world’s leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, is challenging everyone to get moving.

 

Move More Month is part of the association’s Healthy For Good™ movement, which inspires people everywhere to make lasting changes in their health and their lives, one small step at a time.

 

Wednesday, April 4 is Move More Day, formerly National Walking Day. The Heart Association encourages everyone to gather friends, coworkers, family, the family pet, and move! You could walk, run, bike, shoot hoops, do hula hoops, do a little yoga – whatever your favorite kind of movement is, just do it!

 

“The human body was designed to move,” said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention. “Your body thanks you for moving by relieving anxiety, depression and even anger, and rewards you by making your brain and heart stronger.”

 

Not only can moving more help improve self-confidence, energy levels and sleep quality, those who are physically active and at a healthy weight live about seven years longer than those who are not active and are obese.

 

People are encouraged to share how they’re moving more in April by using the hashtags #HealthyForGood and #MoveWithHeart on social media.

 

“Just 150 minutes a week of activity that gets your heart pumping and leaves you a little breathless can provide major health benefits,” said Lenora Johnson, DrPh, director Office of Science Policy, Engagement, Education, and Communications at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. “We started #MoveWithHeart in February to encourage everyone to move more and we’re excited to see the American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good movement promoting it in April.”

 

The American Heart Association’s Healthy For Good movement encourages everyone to get moving with the following tips:

-more-

 

  1. Work it… at Work – Whether you work in an office, at home or behind the wheel, chances are you spend a lot of time sitting. Not enough time to move? Try moving more while you perform routine tasks. Start by taking one weekly meeting to go by walking while you meet. Other options include taking the stairs more often, parking farther out or taking stretch breaks throughout the day.
  2. Play with Fido – Most pet owners will tell you that having a pet can relieve stress and boost overall happiness. But did you know that people who walk their dogs are more likely to get the recommended amount of physical activity than those who don’t. According to one study, dog-walkers got an average of 30 minutes more exercise a day than non-walkers.
  3. Make it a Family Affair – You don’t need to break the bank to move more with your kids. There are numerous tips to keep your family active on the cheap. And if the weather is bad or outdoor activities are out of the question, try dancing, playing or cleaning indoors. Want to get out? Go for a walk around the mall or check out recreation centers in your neighborhood.
  4. Bust a Move Anywhere – The American Heart Association recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity every week. That can be accomplished by taking small activity breaks, setting reasonable expectations and finding a move more buddy. No matter what you do, it’s important to stay motivated by making every move count and celebrate your accomplishments.

Find resources and join the movement to be Healthy For Good at heart.org/MoveMore.

 

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CONNECTICUT KIDS MEET WITH LAWMAKERS TO PUSH SALE AGE OF TOBACCO TO 21

Kids to share 21 reasons for supporting Tobacco 21 in CT

Students from around Connecticut participate in a press conference at the State Capitol showing support of raising the tobacco sale age to 21.

Today, students of all ages came to the Connecticut Legislative Building to meet with legislators and share reasons for supporting ‘Tobacco 21’- raising the sale age of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21 in Connecticut. The event was held in conjunction with lobby days for both the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the American Heart Association. Advocates from across the state came to speak to their lawmakers about making cancer, heart disease and stroke legislative priorities.

During a press conference and in individual meetings, the students educated legislators on why it is important to them to raise the state’s tobacco sale age to 21 and about the need to reduce the number of teens taking up smoking and using other tobacco products. As a group they provided 21 reasons why ‘Tobacco 21’ matters to them and makes sense for the state. The youth are part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Connecticut as well as other youth groups focused on health issues from across the state.

The students participating were from the following towns: Berlin, Bristol, Hartford, Newington, Norwalk, Plymouth, Southington, Wallingford, Wolcott.

Research shows 95% of smokers started before the age of 21.

Every year in Connecticut, nearly 1,300 kids under age 18 will become new daily smokers, and 56,000 kids in the state under the age of 18 now will ultimately die prematurely from smoking. Currently, 10.3% of high school students smoke and 7.2% of high school students use e-cigarettes.

Southington resident, Leigh Pechillo talks to Sen. Joe Markley about why raising the  sale age of tobacco products to 21 will save lives of children in Connecticut.

“Here in Connecticut, 4,900 deaths are caused by smoking each year, and another 450 people die from second hand smoke – and this is simply unacceptable”, said Bryte Johnson, director of government relations for ACS CAN in Connecticut. “We know that an increase in the legal sale age of tobacco can be a critical component of a comprehensive approach tobacco control, and thus a powerful tool in the fight against cancer.”

“Studies show that if a youth reaches the age of 21 without smoking, the chance of them ever doing so plummets to two per cent. The lifesaving potential of this legislation is massive,” said Jim Williams, Government Relations Director for the American Heart/American Stroke Association. “We know that kids gain access to tobacco products from older kids—siblings, friends at school. So, raising the age will help eliminate tobacco from younger kids’ social circles.”

Youth from the Boys and Girls Club from around Connecticut raise their voice to raise the sale age of  cigarettes and other tobacco products to 21.

Most teens who smoke and use tobacco report getting cigarettes and other products from their friends; 90% of those who provide cigarettes to younger teens are under the age of 21. Eighty percent of youth smokers will become adult smokers and one-half of adult smokers will die prematurely from tobacco-related diseases.

Five states (New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, California and Hawaii), along with more than 290 localities (including more than 60% of the populations of New York and 70% of the population of Massachusetts) have raised their tobacco sales to 21.