Department of Health Outlines Children's Health Issues
Health department director Paul Halverson spoke with the senators about three major issues of concern: electronic cigarettes, teen pregnancy and childhood obesity.
Right now the nicotine cartridge in electronic cigarettes is not regulated like tobacco, so it's available for purchase to folks under the age of 18. Halverson asked senators to consider drafting a bill to stop that practice.
Halverson also told senators that more work needs to be done on the issue of teen pregnancy. The birthrate by teen girls is 52% higher in Arkansas than the national average.
The third issue, brought up by Senator Linda Chesterfield, was childhood obesity. Access to healthcare providers and the possibility of school nurses referring children to obesity programs work some of the ideas tossed around during the meeting.
Committee Chairwoman Cecile Bledsoe says she is at least open to considering legislation on all three problems.
"Of course, I haven't read their bill and I would not commit until I read their bill, but just hearing those three issues, I think they're very good issues. I think they're necessary and without reading the bill, I would have to say that it looks positive for them passing in session," said Sen. Bledsoe.