Insight News

Friday
Apr 18th

Health

New law protecting youth from tobacco products takes effect August 1

A new state law protecting Minnesota youth from the harmful effects of tobacco products takes effect Aug. 1. The Tobacco Modernization and Compliance Act was passed by the 2010 Legislature and signed into law by Governor Pawlenty.

The new law applies existing state tobacco taxes and regulations to new smokeless tobacco products which attract young customers because they are low-cost. Specifically, the law:
•    Expands the definition of tobacco products to include any product that contains tobacco and is intended for human consumption.
•    Requires all tobacco products and tobacco-related devices to be sold behind the counter so they are not easily accessible to youth.
•    Prevents the sale of new tobacco products and e-cigarettes to youth.

"Tobacco use continues to be the leading preventable cause of death in this country," said Minnesota Assistant Commissioner of Health Patricia Adams. "While cigarette smoking among Minnesota youth has declined since 2000, there has been no change in the percentage of students smoking cigars or little cigars or using smokeless tobacco. This new law will help young people avoid the harmful effects of tobacco by decreasing their access to today's new generation of tobacco products."
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Fight childhood obesity by making family reunions a healthy affair

Family reunion season has arrived! Family reunions give families a chance to reconnect with loved ones from across the country, reflect on fond memories, share news and achievements, and welcome new additions.

Food is a big part of the celebration. From recipe swaps to barbeque bragging rights, many of the most cherished memories involve eating. But while grandma's famous fried chicken and auntie's sweet potato pie may be mouth-wateringly delicious, they are also high in fat and calories. As a result, instead of creating healthy traditions, we may be inadvertently passing down to our children a legacy of obesity.

Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. The problem also has caught the attention of First Lady Michelle Obama who has made combating childhood obesity a national priority. Her "Let's Move" campaign aims to turn the tide of childhood obesity within a single generation.
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Prescription help available for the unemployed

Despite assertions that the recession is ending, many Americans are still out of work and continue to have trouble finding employment. Since 2000, a steady increase in unemployment has contributed to a lack of employer-sponsored insurance coverage. Without health coverage, many have difficulty accessing needed medical care including prescription medicines.

The national unemployment rate is uncharacteristically high at nearly 10%, and has been for more than a year. Minority populations struggle the most, with over 15% of the African American population and over 12% of the Hispanic population currently unemployed. Data suggest that the high unemployment rate means an increase in uninsured individuals.

Without employer-based insurance coverage, many uninsured patients lack access to a medical home and ultimately forego preventative health care measures, which are critical to maintaining good health.
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CDC report: AIDS is a Black – and poor – disease

CDC report: AIDS is a Black – and poor – disease  VIENNA, Austria (NNPA) – Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, has good reasons for describing AIDS as a Black disease. Although Blacks are 12.8 percent of the U.S. population, they represent 45 percent of all people infected each year with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Black women represent 66 percent of all new HIV cases each year among women, a study conducted in five major cities found that 46 percent of gay and bisexual Black men have contracted HIV, compared to 21 percent of similar White men, and although Black teenagers are only 15 percent of U.S. teen population, they account for 68 percent of all new AIDS cases among teens.
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Summertime Safety Tips

In the midst of these summer months in Minnesota, it is especially important to protect against the harmful effects of the hot summer sun and to take extra safety measures around water. 

Did you know that each year,    according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 9.2 million children aged 0 to 19 years are seen in emergency departments for injuries, and 12,175 children die as a result of being injured. Whether you are relaxing at home, exploring one of Minnesota’s recreational areas or going for a swim, here are a few helpful reminders to ensure your comfort and safety.   
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Pouring bleach down the drain.

Pouring bleach down the drain.Dear EarthTalk: My neighbor told me to pour bleach down my drains every week to keep them clear. Is this safe to do? -- Trish Osterling, via e-mail

Bleach is a useful cleaner and disinfectant, but pouring it down the drain will not do anything to help keep the drains clear. In addition, you could cause a dangerous chemical reaction if it comes into contact with other household products you might be using.

Common household bleach, also known as chlorine bleach, is a liquid compound of sodium hypochlorite, which is a combination of sodium chloride (a salt) with water and chlorine. It’s often used to whiten laundry or to disinfect kitchen surfaces. Bleach is also an ingredient in other household cleaners, like those used for bath and toilet cleaning. (A different sort of bleach, known as oxygen bleach, is used for laundry stain removal and does not have the same disinfecting/cleaning properties as chlorine bleach.)
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Gas-powered motors on wind turbines?.

Gas-powered motors on wind turbines?.Dear EarthTalk: I heard that some wind farms use fossil fuels to power their generators when the wind won’t. Doesn’t that defeat their whole renewable energy purpose? Why not let the wind power it or not? Also, I've heard that the low-frequency sounds generated by these turbines can harm people and animals. Is this true? -- Ryan Lewis, Plainwell, MI

Indeed, one of the major drawbacks to wind power is the fact that, even in windy locations, the wind doesn’t always blow. So the ability of turbines to generate power is intermittent at best. Many turbines can generate power only about 30 percent of the time, thanks to the inconsistency of their feedstock.

In order to overcome this Achilles’ heel of intermittent production, some wind companies have developed back-up systems that can spin turbines even when the wind isn’t blowing, thus optimizing and keeping consistent the power output. For example, Colorado-based Hybrid Turbines Inc. is selling wind farms systems that marry a natural gas-based generator to a wind turbine. “Even if natural gas is used, the electricity produced…is twice as environmentally clean as burning coal,” reports the company. Better yet, if a user can power them with plant-derived biofuels, they can remain 100 percent renewable energy-based.
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