November 17, 2017
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AMA adopts policies to prevent tobacco use, increase organ donation

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During its interim meeting, the AMA voted to advance its anti-tobacco efforts and to increase nationwide organ donation rates, calling for the development of public education programs to improve these public health issues.

While not announced as part of the interim meeting, the AMA also released a new public service awareness campaign with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to encourage better control of hypertension.

Tobacco use

AMA’s anti-tobacco policy seeks to combat the “organized conspiracy” put forth by several tobacco companies to deceive consumers about the adverse health effects of smoking tobacco. AMA noted that in 2006, some of these companies, including Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, were found to have violated the U.S. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to boost their revenues without considering individual illness or growing health costs.

“For years tobacco companies have continued to put their profits above the health and well-being of their customers through deceptive practices that include targeting young people and preventing current smokers from quitting,” Albert J. Osbahr III, MD, board member of the AMA, said in a press release. “We will do everything we can to ensure the public is aware of the negative health consequences associated with tobacco products and help deter more people from using them.”

In collaboration with state and medical specialty societies and public health organizations, the AMA policy is intended to raise public awareness of tobacco companies that violate the RICO Act and/or fail to disclose required corrective statements that detail the health consequences of smoking and second-hand smoke, the addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, and the lack of benefits from “low tar,” “light,” “ultralight,” “mild” and “natural cigarettes.”

Under the policy, the AMA urges that state and medical specialty societies and public health organizations identify public policies potentially influenced by tobacco companies and prevent influences on future policy.

Organ donation

The AMA also emphasized a need to increase the number of organs available for donation, noting that despite reports indicating that most adults in the United States support organ donation, only half are registered organ donors and only three in 1,000 registered people become donors after death.

“Although the numbers of organ donors and transplants has been growing slowly over the last 2 decades, there aren’t nearly enough donated organs to satisfy the number of people in need of transplants,” Osbahr said in a separate release.

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He added, “We know this is due in large part to the factors that influence a person’s decision on whether to designate themselves as a donor — ranging from religious and cultural beliefs to family influence, beliefs about body integrity after death, and limited knowledge about organ donation. We will continue to support the implementation of programs aimed at improving the public’s willingness to donate and help identify other approaches to encourage more people to become organ donors.”

The AMA policy encourages the creation of programs to educate the public about influential factors on willingness to donate, and focuses on minority populations with low donation rates.

Hypertension

AMA’s campaign for hypertension calls for more awareness on the life-threatening effects of uncontrolled high BP and urges for patient-doctor collaboration on creating and adhering to BP management plans. AMA noted that the campaign comes after the new guidelines published by the AHA, the American College of Cardiology and nine other societies, stating that hypertension is now defined as systolic BP 130 mm Hg/diastolic BP 80 mm Hg, which will lead to a new diagnosis in approximately 14% more Americans.

“Of all the things we can do right now to reduce heart disease, strokes and other debilitating disease, controlling blood pressure is one thing that has tremendous potential to save lives and improve well-being,” Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, chief medical officer for prevention at AHA, said in a press release. “Physicians and patients, together, need a clear and workable plan to keep blood pressure controlled. We want to help make that happen.”

 

Disclosure: Healio Internal Medicine was unable to confirm relevant financial disclosures at the time of publication.