Feb 22

County Health Rankings Release Set for March 29


tobacco research


Published online at countyhealthrankings.org, the Rankings help counties across the United States understand what influences how healthy residents are and how long they will live. The Rankings measure the current overall health of each county in all 50 states. They also look at a variety of measures that affect the future health of communities, such as high school graduation rates, access to healthy foods, rates of smoking, obesity, and teen births.

The release of the rankings is an opportunity for public health supporters to engage the community in health efforts. Communities use the Rankings to garner support for local health improvement initiatives among government agencies, healthcare providers, community organizations, business leaders, policy makers, and the public.

Learn more in this PDF flier.

Feb 22

State health officials urge smokeless tobacco users to quit


MONTGOMERY — Smokeless tobacco users are encouraged to quit this week by the Alabama Department of Public Health as part of “Through with Chew Week.”

The education week runs through Feb. 23 and was established in 1989 by the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery.

According to the 2016 Alabama Adult Tobacco Survey, 8.1 percent of Alabama adults had used smokeless tobacco within 30 days of taking the survey, and 9.3 percent of Alabama teens said they had used smokeless tobacco in the 30 days before taking the survey.

Alabama provides a free quitline for residents wanting help quitting tobacco use. It can be reached seven days a week between 6 a.m and midnight. Resources are also available at quitnowalabama.com.

The Alabama Tobacco Quitline offers up to eight weeks of free nicotine patches to medically-eligible individuals enrolled in a quitline coaching program.

Smokeless tobacco use can cause oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancers and lead to tooth loss and gum recession.

Source: Times Daily

Feb 22

MUSG approves tobacco-free policy


The Marquette University Student Government Academic Senate approved the tobacco-free campus policy, introduced in November of 2015, Monday night. It will go into effect Aug. 1, 2017.

The new policy makes the campus tobacco-free and will direct students toward sidewalks owned by the City of Milwaukee if they need to use tobacco.

In 2015, a recommendation on creating a tobacco-free campus inspired senators to reach out to their constituents through survey for their opinion on Marquette being tobacco-free.

“We are Jesuit and we are an urban campus and we took that into account,” said Legislative Vice President Ricky Krajewski, a senior in the College of Health Sciences. “We found something that was relatively feasible and similar to other urban campuses.”

Last Thursday the final version of the policy was brought in front of the Staff Senate and passed unanimously. The version was then brought to the Academic Senate and ended in the same fashion.

“This is a culture shift,” Krajewski said. “We understand that students that currently go to Marquette might not be as affected, but after a few years and tour guides promoting it, we think it will have a positive effect on campus.”

Meeting brings new appointment and focus on commuters

With elections approaching, executive board positions are also going through changes. The new senior communication vice president will be Ben Dombrowski, a junior in the College of Communication.

Dombrowski formally served as creative director for MUSG. He was approved unanimously by his fellow senators with glowing remarks.

”In all my time as a senator, I don’t think I’ve seen a more qualified candidate that MUSG has approved people for,” senior Senator J.R. O’Rourke, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “Ben has approached every task that I have seen him work on with enthusiasm and a good work ethic.”

Dombrowski said he hopes to bring a voice to MUSG that can better communicate with students on campus through social media and event promotion.

“There is a lot of things that MUSG does well that doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves,” Dombrowski said. “There are also a lot of ways MUSG can improve and I want to do whatever I can to make MUSG better for students.”

On top of improving communication with students, MUSG has been reaching out to commuter students through email to get students further involved with on-campus activities.

“Commuters are a very important part of this campus,” Krajewski said. “MUSG wants to make sure that they are not being overlooked in any capacity. They are just as important as any other student on campus.”

MUSG Senate Adviser Jen Reid, a graduate student in the College of Education, closed the meeting with her thoughts on the recent negativity displayed in senate meetings and her concerns with senators not treating each other with kindness.

“You have to be more generous with each other and focus on the work you are doing to benefit students,” Reid said. “Just think are you focusing on things that have to do with the student body or just MUSG?”

Source: Marquette Wire

Feb 22

Bill would ban tobacco discounts, coupons in New York


ALBANY – Coupons and other discounts for tobacco products would be banned under a proposal from a pair of state lawmakers from the Lower Hudson Valley.

The bill, which was re-introduced in the state Senate last week, would prohibit retailers from accepting any coupons or offering discounts on cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes or most other types of tobacco.

The proposal — sponsored by Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County, and Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, D-Yonkers — is modeled after a local law in New York City.

It’s meant to combat tobacco use by taking away an avenue to reduce the price of products like cigarettes, which are taxed by the state at $4.35 a pack.

“Time and time again, we’ve seen that as prices go up for tobacco products, the usage declines,” Carlucci said Monday. “(Coupons and discounts) are a way for big tobacco companies to get around the high prices of cigarettes.”

The bill would not apply to products — like nicotine gum — meant to help people quit smoking.

If approved, stores that violate the ban would face a $1,000 fine for a first offense, $2,000 for a second and $5,000 for a third.

New York City’s cigarette coupon ban took effect in 2014 after it stood up to a legal challenge from cigarette manufacturers and convenience store owners, who claimed the ban violated their First Amendment rights.

Mayer and Carlucci first introduced their statewide bill last year, but it died in committee.

The lawmakers re-introduced the bill this year, where it currently sits in Senate and Assembly’s health committees.

The bill has support from the American Lung Association and a group representing county health officials, which listed it among the bills they lobbied on at the Capitol last year.

Opponents of the bill have been active, too.

State records show tobacco giant Altria among those who lobbied on the measure in 2016, along with the state Association of Convenience Stores and the Cigar Association of America.

In the lawsuit challenging New York City’s cigarette discount ban, opponents claimed the ban would cause “irreparable harm” to convenience stores and tobacco outlets and would unconstitutionally limit their ability to market their products.

Ultimately, a judge disagreed, siding with the city.

State law sets a minimum price for cigarettes based on a formula that takes the wholesale price and various markups into account.

New York’s $4.35-a-pack state excise tax is the highest in the nation, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Connecticut is second at $3.90.

Source: The Journal News

Feb 22

Panel votes to phase out ND center for tobacco prevention


BISMARCK—A North Dakota Senate committee has initiated a move to dissolve North Dakota’s tobacco prevention and control agency.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 11-3 on Friday to give Senate Bill 2024 a do-pass recommendation. The bill would phase out the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, or BreatheND, by the end of the biennium and shift tobacco settlement funds to the state Health Department.

Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, chairman of the Senate Appropriations committee, said the bill received a party-line vote, with the three Democrats on the committee voting against it.

Holmberg said the bill could come up on the Senate floor as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Former Gov. Jack Dalyrmple recommended the agency be eliminated in his final budget address in December. Gov. Doug Burgum also did not include funding for BreatheND in his budget proposal.

Jeanne Prom, executive director of BreatheND, expressed concern that eliminating the agency could undo the work it already has done, which includes cutting youth smoking rates in half since the agency’s inception.

“This is a real big step backwards in public health,” Prom said.

BreatheND was created in 2008 after North Dakota voters approved a measure to use a percentage of the state’s tobacco settlement fund — part of an agreement states reached with big tobacco companies in 1998 — for a comprehensive tobacco prevention program.

The agency uses about 20 percent of the tobacco settlement for a prevention program.

“Even in these economic times that we have in our state right now, there’s still ample tobacco settlement money to be used for a comprehensive program without a dime of taxpayers’ money, without a dime from the state general fund. And yet (legislators are) ignoring the vote of the people — an initiated measure that created this comprehensive program,” Prom said.

The state could save money by eliminating BreatheND, thus creating only one agency, the Health Department, that would focus on tobacco prevention, according to Holmberg, who noted the agency’s current costs included “some of the highest salaries in the state” for its eight employees.

“Some people could look at that and say, you know, maybe the Health Department could do it a little cheaper,” Holmberg said.

Prom said her salary and her employees’ salaries are set by the Office of Management and Budget and are within the permitted ranges. She also said many of her employees have upward of 35 years of experience.

Two Democrats who voted against the bill in committee pointed to the BreatheND’s track record in reducing smoking rates.

“BreatheND has been a complete success story, it has worked; it’s one of the best programs in the country, and, to me, it’s a mistake that we’re not getting behind it and supporting it and keeping it in place,” said Sen. Larry Robinson, D-Valley City.

“The bottom line is, the Health Department is going to be loaded implementing medical marijuana, and to take this on on top of it is clearly a step in the wrong direction,” Robinson said.

Source: Grand Forks Herald

Feb 22

Legislature considers tobacco tax hike


MISSOULA, Mont. – Montanans could see a higher tax on tobacco products.

The revenue generated would be used to offset cost of critical healthcare programs.

Senator Mary Caferro is proposing a bill that would raise the tax $1.50.

According to the American Cancer Society the last time Montana raised the tobacco tax 2005.

If the bill passes, the increase would put the total sales tax at more than $3.20 a pack.

The generated revenue would fund home health care, hospice and other programs.

“I’m against it, definitely against,” said Mark Fiscus. “I barely have enough to make ends meet as it is.”

All tobacco products would be more expensive not just cigarettes.

“Right now, the tobacco tax goes to health and Medicaid services with a portion passed on to the General Fund.

The added tax would barely put a dent to the cost of smoking.

According to the American Cancer Society, Montana’s pay $440 million a year for tobacco related illnesses.

It’s estimated the proposed bill would cut those costs by more than $5 million over the course of five years.

Source: NBC Montana

Feb 22

Doctor-lawmaker tries to restrict smoking in tobacco country


FRANKFORT (AP) — When Dr. Ralph Alvarado was elected to the Kentucky state Senate in 2014, he found his new colleagues had something in common with most of his patients: They knew smoking was bad, they just couldn’t quit.

For more than two years, Alvarado has led the effort to restrict smoking in a state with the highest smoking rate in the country. He keeps a white lab coat in his Senate office, giving him a little more authority with lawmakers and lobbyists. But his efforts have so far been thwarted by the cultural legacy of tobacco, which along with coal has declined sharply because of a mix of market and political forces while still maintaining its grip on public policy in Kentucky.

Banning smoking in public places is still a politically perilous position for most of the state’s Republican lawmakers, whose constituents view it as an attack on their personal freedoms. Alvarado — also a Republican — is insulated from this, even though his district includes parts of rural Montgomery and Clark counties where he says smoking bans are met with scowls.

“The comments from people (are), ‘Well what do you expect, he’s a doctor.’ And so I’m almost excused,” he said. “It takes off the shackles for me a little bit to be able to talk about this issue.”

State lawmakers have focused most of their attention to the state’s rising death toll from drug overdoses, including opioids, which killed more than 1,200 people last year. During that same time period, more than 8,800 Kentuckians died from tobacco-related illnesses, according to Shawn Jones, past president of the Kentucky Medical Association.

Kentucky had more tobacco-related cancer cases per 100,000 people than any other state, according to a study from 2009-13 by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“If you’re going to use the word crisis with respect to the opioid epidemic in Kentucky — and I think we should — then we must do the same with regard to smoking,” he said.

Alvarado’s first attempts to ban smoking failed. In 2015, he angered his Republican colleagues when he joined Democrats in an attempt to force a vote on a statewide workplace smoking ban. Last year, Alvarado sponsored a similar bill that had the support of at least one major tobacco company and the promised indifference from other tobacco interests. But he could not convince a majority of Republican senators to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

Alvarado has since narrowed the legislation and is trying again. This week, he convinced the Senate to approve a ban on all tobacco products from public schools and school-sponsored events, something only 36 percent of Kentucky’s 173 school districts had done. The bill still drew opposition from some rural Republicans and Democrats, but it prompted a reluctant “yes” vote from Sen. Damon Thayer, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate who has long opposed other statewide smoking bans.

“The people at a school have no choice to be there,” Thayer said.

While the Senate vote gives anti-smoking advocates hope that they have momentum, they still have hurdles to overcome. Since 2011, the tobacco industry has spent more than $4.5 million lobbying the state legislature, among the most of any industry.

And most lawmakers have steered the debate away from health risks and toward the philosophy of personal choices.

“You hear the statement that this could save lives. There’s a lot of things we could do to save lives,” Republican Sen. John Schickel said. “For me the question is who should be making the decision? Clearly, we shouldn’t be making it.”

A spokesman for Altria, which owns Phillip Morris USA and is consistently one of the top lobbying spenders in Kentucky, said the company did not lobby Alvarado’s 2016 smoking ban bill. But they do support his tobacco ban in public schools.

Alvarado says his primary motivation comes on Friday afternoons, when he exchanges his suit jacket for a white lab coat and visits patients.

“I’m watching them kill themselves and I see them die with their last dying breath with a cigarette in their mouth,” he said. “You get frustrated for those people probably more so than trying to pass a law.”

Source: Middlesboro Daily News

Feb 22

Two Tobacco-Related Bills Are Disease-Prevention Bills


If Kentuckians want to quit smoking, we should help them. We should remove roadblocks that make it harder for them to get the treatment they need to quit. And we certainly should try to stop our youth from starting to smoke in the first place, so they’re not burdened with trying to overcome a deadly tobacco addiction later in life.

Two bills making their way through Kentucky’s legislature would go a long way toward accomplishing these goals. More importantly, the bills would help reduce the Commonwealth’s nation-leading smoking rate, which contributes to our disturbingly high rates of death from both cancer and heart disease. And, they would reduce health care costs for smoking-related diseases, which total $1.9 billion annually in our state. That’s an average of $428 out of every single Kentuckians’ pocket every single year.

More than a quarter of Kentucky adults still smoke, despite mountains of evidence that tobacco kills.

Most smokers start as youth or young adults, so the fact that nearly 17 percent of Kentucky teens already are smoking does not portend well for reducing the Commonwealth’s adult smoking rate, or for improving our health. We simply must act.

Not incidentally, Kentuckians die from cancer more often than people from any other state. Nationwide, nearly 29 percent of cancer deaths can be linked to smoking. So it shouldn’t be a shock that, while cancer deaths declined 20 percent from 1980 to 2014 in America as a whole, they rose significantly in many Kentucky counties during that same 35-year span. In fact, the rate of tracheal, bronchus, and lung cancer nearly doubled in Owsley County.

Kentucky also has the highest rate of adult asthma in the nation, the second highest rate of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and the seventh highest rate of heart disease mortality. Smoking contributes to each of these diseases as well.

Senate Bill 89

A 2011 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that 70 percent of current smokers want to quit. But it’s hard, and many people simply can’t do it without help.

Senate Bill 89 would require health insurance plans offered in Kentucky to provide coverage for programs proven to help smokers quit for good; the bill also would prohibit insurers from setting up roadblocks that make it harder for Kentuckians to access these programs. The health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate, and the long-term improvements to Kentucky’s health from a reduced smoking rate would save billions in both insurance company expenditures and taxpayer dollars.

Senate Bill 78

As I travel around our beautiful state, many of the people I meet are surprised to learn that all Kentucky schools are not already tobacco-free. But the truth is that nearly two-thirds of our school districts have yet to enact tobacco-free policies. That leaves about half of the school-age children and youth in our state unprotected from second-hand smoke during school and after-school activities. This exposure not only sets a bad example that encourages youth to smoke, it impairs students’ ability to learn and exacerbates the asthma suffered by 11 percent of Kentucky’s kids.

Tobacco-free laws reduce smoking rates; it’s that simple. Senate Bill 78 would require Kentucky schools to enact tobacco-free policies by the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.

Here’s something that may not surprise you: Kentucky adults overwhelmingly support 100 percent tobacco-free schools. So says our annual Kentucky Health Issues Poll. And support comes not just from nonsmokers and former smokers; even 80 percent of current smokers favor tobacco-free schools, the poll found.

Bills that reduce Kentucky’s smoking rate are disease-prevention bills. As residents of a state with some of the worst health statistics in the nation, I hope we can all do the right thing and get behind these two bills.

Source: The Hazard Herald

Feb 16

Ricketts signs first bill to cut Nebraska state budget


LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has approved more than $137 million in cuts from the state budget in the fiscal year that runs through June 30.
Ricketts signed the budget bill into law on Wednesday surrounded by members of the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee. The governor says it’s an important step toward addressing the projected $895 million state revenue shortfall.

Lawmakers still have to pass a two-year budget to cover expenses through June 2019. Ricketts says officials should consider the interests of taxpayers before “special interests” and balance the budget without raising taxes.

Sen. John Stinner of Gering, the Appropriations Committee chairman, says senators have already begun work on the upcoming budget and expect a vigorous debate in the Legislature.

All contents © copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Source: KIOS

Feb 16

Nebraska Lawmakers Consider Raising Smoking Age to 21


LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – A bill that would raise Nebraska’s legal smoking age from 18 to 21 won support from medical groups at a legislative committee hearing Monday, but opponents say it would strip rights from young people who are considered responsible enough to vote and serve in the military.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Merv Riepe of Omaha, would apply to smoking, chewing tobacco and using alternative nicotine products such as e-cigarettes. If it becomes law, Nebraska would join California and Hawaii as the only states to ban smoking until age 21.

Riepe said the measure would help “disrupt the chain of youth tobacco addiction” by limiting the number of 18 to 20-year-olds who legally use tobacco or nicotine products and preventing younger teens from getting cigarettes through their older friends.

“Raising the drinking age to 21 is a prime example of the deterring effect raising the minimum age can have on society,” he said.

About two-thirds of people who smoke at least one cigarette a day started in their teens, said Andy Hale, vice president of advocacy for the Nebraska Hospital Association. Smoking has decreased steadily in the past decade, but it’s still a leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., he said.

“That’s more deaths caused by tobacco than by HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, suicide and motor vehicle accidents” combined, Hale said.

The bill also applies to e-cigarettes, which Nebraska banned for minors in 2014. Most e-cigarettes are designed to look like traditional filtered cigarettes, and they contain a solution of often-flavored nicotine that’s vaporized by a heating element. They’re often touted as safer alternatives to cigarettes because they don’t contain tar or other additives.

Many e-cigarettes are sold with fruity or sweet flavors, such as grape, cotton candy or Captain Crunch cereal, which specifically target younger students, said Julia McKarble of the Nebraska chapter of the American Lung Association.

She said 22 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes, while 13 percent reported smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Tobacco at any age is a killer, and if we can stop the access of our youth, we’re setting ourselves up for success,” McKarble said.

But proponents of e-cigarettes say they can help people quit smoking. Sam Salaymeh, who owns a chain of Midwest vape shops, told the committee he smoked two packs a day after he came back from Iraq, and he wasn’t able to quit until he took up vaping.

He said he uses fruity flavors because they taste better than tobacco-flavored solutions, not to target children.

Sens. Carol Blood, of Bellevue, and Burke Harr, of Omaha, questioned how the state could say 18-year-olds were old enough to vote and serve in the military but too young to smoke.

“How can you help me justify the fact that we make 18-year-olds register for draft, can make them go to war, but can’t let them make the adult decision to smoke?” Blood asked Riepe.

Increasing the smoking age sets a “slippery slope” for young adult rights, said Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association. It also could make existing 18 to 20-year-old smokers criminals, something he said he experienced as a 19-year-old when New Jersey raised its smoking age to 19 in 2006. Conley’s friends asked him to buy them cigarettes, he said.

“I don’t think it respects the rights of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds, especially those who are already smokers and vapers,” he said. “They deserve rights too.”

Source: WDIO

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