HomePoliticsHow Ohio's GOP Governor Is Selling Public Health: Don't Call It That.

How Ohio’s GOP Governor Is Selling Public Health: Don’t Call It That.

Many Republicans across the country have long dismissed public health initiatives as “nanny state,” with the coronavirus pandemic only further politicizing the government’s efforts to save lives.

Only one GOP Governor – Ohio Mike DeWine – says he’s found a strategy to get conservative lawmakers and taxpayers to pay attention: focus on the kids.

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“It’s hard to sell things based on public health,” DeWine said in an interview ahead of Wednesday’s State of the State address. “Everyone wants children to do better. … It’s easier if you put it in those terms, rather than talking about building what some people will see as a bureaucracy that is interfering with my life.”

The two-term The governor has struggled to implement key parts of his public health policy agenda with a very conservative legislature blocking his initiatives, as detailed by The Washington Post in an investigation last year into how red state politics are shaving years off American lives.

The Post’s findings, DeWine said, put the alarming statistics for his condition in human terms. About 1 in 5 Ohioans will die before they turn 65, a life expectancy comparable to that of Ohioans Slovakia and Ecuador, relatively poor countries.

DeWine said he instructed his Cabinet to read The Post’s life expectancy report as part of his efforts to make improving the longevity of his constituents a focus of his remaining years as governor. He even met with his former state health director, Amy Acton, to ask how he could improve ohio’s health outcomes, said acton, who has been put forward as a Democratic candidate for statewide office.

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Appearing before the state legislature on Wednesday, DeWine announced initiatives aimed at improving the lives of Ohio’s children, using rhetoric that emphasizes traditional conservative values.

“The most important thing we can do for Ohio’s future is to ensure that all Ohio children – all our children, wherever they live, no matter who their parents are – have the opportunity to live their full, God-given to live. potential,” he said.

He got his PhD safe sleep for infants, early childhood education, mental health care, poison control, and gun violence prevention. He touted an initiative to install health clinics in Appalachian schools. He highlighted a pilot nurse home visiting program to assist new mothers.

He proposed legislation to ban flavored vapes and cigarettes that he said tobacco companies use to target children. He remained in favor of stricter seat belt laws. The Post previously described tobacco and vehicle-related deaths as preventable contributors to Ohio’s lagging life expectancy.

And he did it all without mentioning those two words: public health.

Republican lawmakers previously thwarted DeWine’s efforts to strengthen the state’s seat belt laws, a measure that public health experts say saves lives. DeWine himself lost his daughter Becky in a car accident more than thirty years ago.

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Last fall, legislation he had supported year to curb distracted driving went into effect, allowing police to do so stopping drivers for using their phones.

Since then, preliminary data shows a significant decline in distraction-related crashes as reports for distracted driving have more than doubled, said Lt. Ray Santiago, spokesman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The result: a 20 percent decrease in fatal accidents due to distraction compared to 2022.

“We see immediate success,” Santiago said.

DeWine is redoubling his efforts to codify Ohio troopers’ ability to pull over drivers for not wearing a seat belt, a measure introduced in 35 states. More than 500 Ohioans who lose their lives in car accidents each year do not wear seat belts.

“That’s why I’m coming to you with a proposal to save the lives of young people — and adults — through a primary seat belt law,” DeWine told lawmakers Wednesday. “We know it works. It is a vote that will save lives.”

Ohios The deeply conservative lawmaker has opposed DeWine’s efforts to curb tobacco use, including limiting local jurisdictions’ ability to banning flavored vapors and preventing attempts to increase tobacco taxes. About 1 in 5 adults in Ohio smoke, one of the highest rates in the country.

DeWine encouraged the Biden administration to take action on a nationwide menthol ban that experts say could prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths around the world. predominantly black communities. The ban, originally expected last year, has been delayed due to political pressure and warnings that it could alienate some Black supporters of President Biden before the election, White House officials said.

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DeWine recently told The Post that he knows how to make political calculations: The votes aren’t there for a higher tobacco taxes, a proven public health initiative to reduce smoking-related deaths. But he said in his speech on Wednesday that he will try to implement the ban on vaping and cigarette flavors in a different way.

“We have a duty to protect Ohio children,” he said, “and we have the opportunity to do that.”

The Governor also used the speech as a platform for children’s access to healthcare healthcare, school and a better economic future — essential efforts to extend their life expectancy, he told The Post.

The investments may not pay off during his political lifetime, he said, but they will change the lives of future generations.

“While we can talk about the legislature overriding a veto every now and then and you can talk about their unwillingness to pass a tobacco tax. The truth is, on almost every one of these children’s shows, they’ve given me the money I asked for,” he told The Post.

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Dan Diamond contributed to this report.

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