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Support ATS Advocacy Efforts on Clean Air, Tobacco and TB

Help support ATS advocacy efforts for cleaner air, tighter regulation of tobacco products and tuberculosis control by responding to reports on these issues in your local community papers and other media outlets. Letters to the editor and posting comments in these community-level outlets demonstrate support (or opposition) to a policy at local, grassroots level.  Decision makers pay more attention to letters in local papers as a barometer of local opinion than they do large national papers, which tend to have a well-established world view on most issues.  The goal in these letters to local outlets is not always to reach the most people but to reach the right people.

Here are some sample letters, which can and should be adapted to address the particular report.

To the Editor:

On World TB Day, Let’s Commit to Stopping TB

March 24 is World Tuberculosis Day, the day in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch discovered the cause of tuberculosis (TB), an airborne infectious disease that kills1.3 million people each year. The disease remains the second-leading infectious disease killer globally, directly behind HIV/AIDS. The world is also grappling with the continued spread of drug-resistant TB, which is much costlier and more complicated to treat than drug-susceptible TB.

Here in the U.S., all states continue to report cases of TB annually. TB outbreaks occur in schools, workplaces and prisons across the country. In 2013, Los Angeles battled a TB epidemic among a homeless population in which 11 people died and over 4,600 people has to be tested for TB infection. Also last year, Wisconsin had to spend $4.6 million to control an outbreak in one county. The U.S. is not immune to drug resistant TB either. Between 2008 and 2012, the U.S. had 15 cases of extensively drug resistant (XDR) TB, which is extremely difficult to treat, with treatment and associated costs reaching as much as $1 million per case. California usually has between 25 – 30 cases of multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB annually.

Yet despite the devastation TB wreaks, it is not a global health priority and federal funding for TB control in the U.S. was cut back this year to fiscal year 2005 levels ($135 million). If we fail to address TB, millions more people around the world will die over the next decade. And the U.S. will face many more, and much costlier, outbreaks of TB, including drug resistant TB.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Street Address
City, State, ZIP
A member of the American Thoracic Society.

To the Editor:

Contrary to the arguments by opponents of the ban, touting e-cigarettes as a safe aid for quitting smoking is premature, as the potential adverse health consequences of their use have not been well studied. E-cigarettes deliver nicotine just as cigarettes do, yet they are not subject to the same FDA oversight of their content and manufacture.

The American Thoracic Society has long fought in the battle against tobacco addiction and supports the urgent need for more effective therapies. In addition to the lack of clarity on the possible health effects of e-cigarettes, the ATS believes these devices are a potential gateway to smoking among young people, to whom they are heavily marketed.

The ATS recently released a policy statement on the regulation of e-cigarettes which recommends that federal, state and municipal authorities should assert jurisdiction and effectively regulate e-cigarettes, including setting age restrictions for their sale and regulating their content and advertising.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Street Address
City, State, ZIP
A member of the American Thoracic Society.

To the Editor:

The updated air quality standard proposed by the EPA today is badly needed to protect Americans against life-threatening air pollution such as mercury and arsenic from power plants. The American Thoracic Society supports this vitally important move by the EPA.
The proposed rule could save thousands of lives each year, and spare countless individuals from the harmful effects of some of the most toxic air pollutants known to us. Even in small amounts these extremely harmful air pollutants are linked cancer, heart disease, neurological damage, birth defects, asthma attacks and even premature death.

As a society of healthcare professionals who specialize in pulmonary and critical care medicine, the ATS whole-heartedly supports the proposed rule. The effects are not just theoretical; our membership encounters individuals every day whose health is compromised, or whose lives are lost, because of these toxic pollutants released into the air by the power industry. As healthcare professionals, we must do everything possible to help our patients, but as citizens and humans, we must take a broader view and advocate for stopping the problem at its source.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Street Address
City, State, ZIP
A member of the American Thoracic Society.