WSMA, King County Medical Society lead unprecedented medical endorsement of Clean Air Initiative I-1631

American Lung Association, American College of Physicians, Virginia Mason and others among prominent medical supporters of 1631

In an unprecedented move, the members of the Washington State Medical Association have voted overwhelmingly to endorse Initiative I-1631, Washington’s Clean Air and Clean Energy initiative.  The vote took place Sunday, October 14, 2018 at the Washington State Medical Association annual meeting in Spokane.

The WSMA joins the King County Medical Society, The American Lung Association, The American College of Physicians, and dozens of leading health experts and organizations who have announced their endorsement of I-1631.  Supporters include Washington state hospitals, doctors, medical experts, patients, and healthcare professionals.

The Washington State Medical Association represents nearly 11,000 physicians, physician assistants, resident physicians and medical students in Washington state. The WSMA has advocated on behalf of the house of medicine more than 125 years. Its vision is to make Washington state the best place to practice medicine and receive care.

Newly inaugurated WSMA President Tom Schaaf, MD, MHA, announced the endorsement at a news conference Monday afternoon in South Seattle attended by a number of medical professionals from across the state. “We believe that we have a moral obligation to advocate for policy  that protects our patients’ health including the dangers of air pollution and climate change.  The Washington State Medical Association is proud to support investments in clean energy and healthier patients by endorsing Initiative 1631,” said Dr. Schaaf, a Spokane based physician specializing in geriatrics and hospice care. He serves as the chief medical officer of Providence Home and Community Care in Tukwila and provides patient care at Providence Sound Hospice in Olympia.

Mark Vossler, MD, a Kirkland-based cardiologist who practices at EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland, authored the resolution to the WSMA as a delegate from the King County Medical Society endorsing I-1631 and led its passage at last weekend’s WSMA annual meeting.

“We are currently facing the greatest existential threat of our generation, the continued use of fossil fuels.  I’m seeing the effects now in my patients.  On bad air days heart attacks go up, strokes go up, asthma admissions go up.  I’m also seeing the future.  A future that will have an uninhabitable planet for my children and my grandchildren if we do not act now,” Vossler said.

It’s extremely rare for the WSMA or King County Medical Society to endorse measures such as I-1631, Vossler added, because of the potential for political discord within the delegations.

“This year we’ve seized the opportunity to actually endorse a specific policy that will  make a huge difference in the lives of our patients and our children and our grandchildren. WSMA rarely  takes a stance on an initiative, the reason being there is rarely an initiative written like this that would have such an impact on the health of our communities,” Vossler said.

Washington’s residents are already paying the price of pollution. Pollution from vehicle exhaust has been linked to cancers, respiratory ailments, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Diesel exhaust accounts for 78% of the potential cancer risk from all air toxics in the Puget Sound area. More than 600,000 people in Washington suffer from asthma, and rates for asthma and other respiratory ailments are disproportionately higher for people with lower incomes and communities of color.

Washington has mandated goals for reducing pollution, set by the Legislature in 2008, but no pathway to achieve them. I-1631 was crafted to reach the goal of lowering carbon pollution by 25 million tons a year by 2035 and 50 million tons by 2050.

The list of health organizations that endorse 1631 continues to grow but currently includes,


Washington State Medical Association

The American Lung Association

King County Medical Society

Virginia Mason

Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments

King County Academy of Physicians

Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility


Healthcare Without Harm

Children’s Alliance

American Academy of Pediatrics (WA chapter)

Physicians for Social Responsibility

UFCW 21 (nurses and health professional unions)

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington

SEIU Healthcare 1199

Sherman Physical Therapy

Planned Parenthood

Washington Academy of Family Physicians



Josh Kerns

Director of Marketing & Communications

King County Medical Society

206.920.1482 (mobile)

 Nick Abraham

Communications Director/Yes on 1631