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October 4, 2014

Patient under evaluation with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C.

Patient under evaluation with Ebola-like symptoms in Washington D.C.

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Saturday, October 4, 2014

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A patient was admitted to a hospital in Washington, D.C. after showing Ebola-like symptoms, according to a statement yesterday by hospital spokeswoman Kerry-Ann Hamilton.

Howard University Hospital
Image: AgnosticPreachersKid.

Hamilton confirmed Howard University Hospital admitted the patient in stable condition. The patient had been to Nigeria, where some cases of the Ebola virus have occurred. The hospital has followed protocol for infection control, including separating the patient from others to prevent possible infection of others.

The director of the D.C. Department of Health said they have collaborated to monitor patients with Ebola-like symptoms with Howard University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland admitted another patient with Ebola-like symptoms, but health officials there yesterday night later determined this person had malaria, not the Ebola virus.

At the peak of Ebola countermeasures in Nigeria, almost 900 people there were monitored for the virus after contacting someone who was already sick.



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October 27, 2013

Slow start to winter 2013/2014 flu season in USA

Slow start to winter 2013/2014 flu season in USA

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

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With the United States flu season having started this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), The Weather Channel and Google‘s FluTrends websites report today low flu levels.

All three sources say there are no, or minimal, reports of the flu in Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. All three indicate Alabama has moderate flu levels. Google FluTrends indicates that at the same time last year, the flu level nationally was at moderate.

During the early part of the month, there were some concerns about the quality of flu reporting as the CDC and other government supported flu tracking organizations were impacted by the US government shutdown. Some non-profits and private organizations provided their own data during this period to fill the information void.

The CDC advises people to get a flu vaccine as the best means of avoiding getting the flu. Dr. Harry Leider, Chief Medical Officer for Walgreens, also is encouraging people to get the flu vaccine now before the flu becomes more widespread. For the 2013/2014 flu season in the US, there are two types of vaccines available. One provides immunization for two influenza A viruses and an influenza B virus — specifically, an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus; an A(H3N2) virus, similar for antigenic purposes to cell-propagated prototype virus A/Victoria/361/2011; and a virus similar to B/Massachusetts/2/2012. A second type of vaccine provides immunization for two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.

Flu prevelance by state
State Google FluTrend CDC The Weather Channel
Alabama Moderate Local Localized
Alaska Low Sporadic
Arizona Low Sporadic Sporadic
Arkansas Low No activity
California Low Sporadic Sporadic
Colorado Low No activity
Connecticut Low Sporadic Sporadic
Delaware Low No activity
Florida Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
Georgia Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
Hawaii Low Sporadic
Idaho Low No activity
Illinois Moderate Sporadic
Indiana Low Sporadic Sporadic
Iowa Low Sporadic Sporadic
Kansas Moderate No activity
Kentucky Moderate No activity
Louisiana Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
Maine Low No activity
Maryland Low No activity Sporadic
Massachusetts Low Sporadic Sporadic
Michigan Moderate Sporadic
Minnesota Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
Mississippi Moderate Local Sporadic
Missouri Moderate No activity
Montana Low No activity
Nebraska Low Sporadic
Nevada Moderate Sporadic
New Hampshire Low No activity
New Jersey Low Sporadic Sporadic
New Mexico Moderate Sporadic Sporadic
New York Low Sporadic Sporadic
North Carolina Low No activity
North Dakota Low Sporadic Sporadic
Ohio Low Sporadic Sporadic
Oklahoma Moderate No activity
Oregon Low Sporadic
Pennsylvania Low Sporadic
Rhode Island Low No activity
South Carolina Low Local Localized
South Dakota Low No activity Sporadic
Tennessee Moderate No activity
Texas Moderate Sporadic Localized
Utah Low Sporadic Sporadic
Vermont Low No activity
Virginia Low No activity
Washington Low Sporadic Sporadic
West Virginia Low No activity
Wisconsin Low Sporadic Sporadic
Wyoming Low Sporadic Sporadic
District of Columbia Low Sporadic



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February 3, 2013

Reports of at least fourteen dead this week due to gun-related suicides in the United States

Reports of at least fourteen dead this week due to gun-related suicides in the United States

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Correction — February 6, 2013
 
This article does not conform to our neutrality policy, due to its manner of presentation of an out-of-context selection of facts. The lapse appears to have been unintentional by all parties involved. We apologize for the error.
 
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

A number of suicides as a result of self-inflicted gunshot wounds took place around the United States this week with reports of deaths in Arizona, California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina and Washington.

Last Saturday in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alston Badger died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 51 years old.

On Monday in Clark County, Nevada, Jody Sherman, the Ecomom founder and CEO, died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Another suicide occurred Monday in New Jersey. Chester and Rosaria Andraka died after Chester allegedly shot Rosaria before killing himself. Chester was a former police officer and there were few signs of trouble in the relationship prior to their deaths.

Another murder-suicide shooting took place on Monday. This one occurred in Elmont, New York, where 58-year-old Audley Dennis is believed to have shot his 46-year-old wife, Karen Rodgers-Dennis, before he shot himself. The couple allegedly had a history of fighting, with a family friend telling the New York Post, “They had their altercations. They would argue and yell, have outbursts.”

Greensburg, Indiana, where one of this week’s gun-related suicides took place
Image: Dopey9928.

In Greensburg, Indiana on Tuesday, local police Lieutenant Larry G. Dance committed suicide, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot. He had joined the police force on January 1, 1995. He left behind by a wife and two daughters.

On Tuesday in Waldorf, Maryland, local police reported an attempted murder-suicide with sixty-four year old Linda Lindsey believed to have shot her husband before fatally shooting herself. Her husband was reported to have survived and be in critical condition.

Devin Peterson, a twenty-two year old, allegedly committed suicide with a state trooper’s shotgun following his alleged theft of a police cruiser, another car and a police chase on Interstate 80 in Nevada on Wednesday.

A seventy-year-old man from Renton, Washington died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound on Wednesday shortly after he called 911 to tell the dispatcher he was planning to take his own life.

On Wednesday, three people died in a murder-suicide in Oxnard, California that involved at least one gun. The deceased included two women and the suspected male shooter.

On Thursday, Lee Vining Fire Chief Tom Strazdims reported an Oregon man likely commited suicide by shooting himself in the parking lot of the town’s visitor center.

Also on Thursday, the body of a suspected gunman accused of killing a call center CEO and injuring a lawyer was found dead of a suspected self-inflicted gunshot wound in Mesa, Arizona. Police had been searching for the man since Wednesday following the shooting at a mediation session over a lawsuit.

In another reported suicide on Thursday, this one in the Baltimore area, a man was found dead in the parking lot of the Timonium gun range of a self-inflicted gun shot wound.

In Radcliff, Kentucky on Thursday, alleged burglar Michael Strand exchanged gunfire with police after they attempted to bring him in for questioning. Following a lull of approximately an hour, police entered the apartment and found the man dead from an alleged self-inflicted gunshot wound.

In Medina, Ohio on Thursday, United States Marine Andrew Baumgartner, who served in Afghanistan and had been discharged several months ago, got into an altercation with Sgt. Scott Schmoll after Schmoll felt a gun on Baumgartner’s person. Following this, Baumgartner hid in nearby woodlands, emerged to knock on the door of a local home to tell the resident he had been hit by a car, only to disappear into the woods again. He subsequently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police discovered his body alongside items they believed he had stolen.

The problem of suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound is recognized by some gun groups. The Royal Oak shooting range in Michigan stopped renting guns this week following after twelve people having attempted to kill themselves with guns rented from the range since 2001 (five of them were successful). Three of the incidents occurred in the past four months, with two of them fatal.

These suicides take place against a backdrop of gun control discussion in the United States Congress, where former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and an NRA spokesperson appeared before the body this week to discuss the possible need for stricter gun control laws.

According to the Maine Center of Disease Control and Prevention, guns are used in 85% of male suicides in the state. Debate has continued this week in the state about gun control as it relates to suicide. Iran’s PressTV published an opinion piece claiming that for every gun owner who uses their weapon in their home for self-defense, there are eleven suicide attempts involving a weapon. In the United States, veterans are more likely to use guns in acts of suicide than acts of homicide. The number of daily suicides by veterans is currently 22.

Guns are often used in suicide attempts, with PolitiFact reporting on Wednesday that there were 4,643 non-fatal gun involved suicide attempts in 2010. This number contradicts testimony by Wayne LaPierre of NRA to the United States Congress regarding unintentional deaths cause by firearms as LaPierre cited 600 deaths. Australia instituted tougher gun control regulations in 1996, including gun buy back programs. According to a study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University, these programs correlate to an 80% drop in suicides involving guns at a time when other methods of suicide remained consistent.

Similar research done in the United States has similar results. A 1991 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found stricter gun control in the District of Columbia was a likely cause of a reduction in the number of suicides by gun shot in D.C. compared to surrounding areas.



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January 14, 2013

Healthcare workers, public officials struggle to address Influenza outbreak across much of U.S.

Healthcare workers, public officials struggle to address influenza outbreak across much of U.S.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

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The influenza virus under an electron microscope.
Image: CDC.

Physicians and others are struggling to address a growing outbreak of influenza affecting a large portion of the United States. Earlier this week, the Mayor of Boston declared a “flu emergency” for the city, as 700 cases of the virus were reported.

Public officials in Texas have urged citizens to receive a flu shot. The state’s public health Commissioner said in a press release, “The best thing people can do to protect themselves is to get a dose of flu vaccine now.” Doctors are telling citizens to wash their hands, get a flu shot and avoid sick people if possible to lessen chances of catching the virus. However, a report released on Friday noted that 7.3% of deaths last week were a result of pneumonia and the flu.

A total of 20 children in the United States have died during this flu season from flu-related illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control reports nine out of 10 regions in the United States had “elevated” flu activity. These data indicate that seasonal flu has spread and reached high levels several weeks before the usual time of late January or February. New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo declared a state-wide public health emergency on Saturday. He also issued an executive order which allows pharmacists to administer flu vaccinations to patients between six months and 18 years of age.



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August 19, 2012

Multiple planes perform aerial spraying over greater Dallas, Texas in effort to combat mosquitoes

Multiple planes perform aerial spraying over greater Dallas, Texas in effort to combat mosquitoes

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

52,000 acres of land in Dallas county were sprayed aerially Thursday evening, in an effort to kill mosquitoes and reduce the spread of the sometimes-deadly West Nile Virus. More planes were slated to treat again on Friday. The state as a whole has seen more than 400 confirmed instances of the illness already this year.

Both the city’s mayor, David Rawlings, and the county’s Judge have executed a state of emergency. Each has rendered his support for the aerial action. The mayor told media, “I cannot have any more deaths on my conscience because we did not take action”. However, Rawlings is reserving his statement about the treatments’ effectiveness until a later time, to allow opportunity to assess the outcomes of the treatments. Some individuals have voiced fears over whether or not the chemicals might be harmful. One Dallas man told reporters he made no efforts to leave his home on Friday, and turned off his home’s air conditioner, in an attempt to safeguard possible chemical threat to his family. Dr. Roger Nasci of the Centers for Disease Control told reporters, “It’s something new there that has not been used in quite a number of years.” He further stated, “Anything novel comes with that unknown factor.”

Due to the scope of the problem, the Texas Health Department is intervening to supervise the action and to offset costs. The state’s Health Commissioner told media, “This year is totally different from the experience Texas has had in the past”. “If it’s nuisance mosquitoes, we ask the city or county to pay part of that. But in the midst of this disease outbreak, it’s easier for us to go ahead and do it”. Several Beechcraft King Air twin-engine planes sprayed on Thursday evening. The chemical used is synthetic pyrethroid; a specialist participating in the action told media the planes are normally loaded with chemicals just before take off, to minimize light exposure. One application costs approximately US$1 million.

File photo of US Air Force plane conducting aerial spraying over Louisiana.

Pilots were informed of certain exclusion zones, such as one containing the Preston Hollow home of former US President George W. Bush, and their flight plans factored in such information. The commissioner for the state’s department of health services is encouraging citizens to continue applying insect spray repellant while outdoors. The state has had seventeen West Nile-related deaths this year.

Reports from Friday morning indicated no county residents had been medically treated for reactions. The county’s judge told media he hadn’t expected any medical reactions to the chemicals used. East Dallas residents were reported that morning in ordinary outdoor exercise activities.



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January 7, 2012

US government expands definition of rape to include men

US government expands definition of rape to include men

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

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On Friday, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expanded its long-standing definition of rape to include men, and the rape of any gender by lack of consent — as opposed to physical coercion. The revised definition should ensure all rapes are recorded in crime statistics. Valerie Jarrett, a White House adviser, said it was a “very, very important step.”

The new definition defines rape as: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”

Describing the changes to crime reporting as “long overdue”, United States Attorney General Eric Holder said the revised definition of rape will, “help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to standing with rape victims”.

The prior definition of rape — “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will” — was set by the FBI in 1927. In contrast, the revised definition drops the requirement that there be physical resistance, thus including crimes where the victim is unable to give consent because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or due to their age.

The changes are primarily a revision to the Uniform Crime Reports system (UCR), and are not expected to impact prior cases or current prosecutions. Introducing no changes to current State or Federal law, the FBI expects the revised definition of rape will see victim numbers “more accurately reflected in national crime statistics”.

Close to the revised rape definition is a 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which included male rape and non-consensual sex; their figures indicate that, at some point in their lives, about 20% of women and 1.5% of men in the United States have been raped. Writing for Significance magazine, Stephanie Kovalchik says this report shows the US “is experiencing an epidemic of sexual violence.” Comparing with other CDC reports, she highlights “that [the] number of American women who have been raped is greater than the number who are current smokers.”

Vice President Joe Biden, with a history of advocating improved rape legislation, described the changes as “a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years.” Whilst still in the Senate, Biden led efforts to implement legislative change — including authoring the Violence Against Women Act.



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December 23, 2011

Walmart recalls infant formula after baby death

Walmart recalls infant formula after baby death

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Friday, December 23, 2011

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Trypticase containing Cronobacter sakazakii bacteria.
Image: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Retail store group Walmart has removed an infant formula from over three thousand of their stores in the United States. The decision was taken in the aftermath of the death of a baby who suffered from Cronobacter sakazakii, an infection which is extremely rare but poses a significant risk to babies born recently and those born prematurely should they contract it. A second newborn baby has also contracted the infection, which is most frequently discovered in plants like rice and wheat.

Ongoing tests are now attempting to establish whether or not the powdered infant formula is connected to the bacterial infection the two babies suffered from in the US state of Missouri. A statement from Walmart says that the company is taking the product Enfamil Newborn Formula off their shelves “out of an abundance of caution”. Speaking on behalf of Walmart, Dianna Gee stated that the group express their “deepest condolences” to the family of Avery Cornett, who died after removal from life support. Gee informed Agence France-Presse that lot number ZP1K7G had been removed and “Walmart customers who may have purchased the item at our stores can return it for a full refund or exchange it for another brand of formula”.

The manufacturer of Enfamil Newborn Formula has also stated that tests made before shipment of the product came back as negative. Chris Perille, a spokesperson for Enfamil manufacturer Mead Johnson Nutrition, has said: “The batch of our product used by the child’s family tested negative for Cronobacter when it was produced and packaged, and that has been reconfirmed from our batch records following this news”. Mead Johnson are “highly confident in the safety and quality of our products — and the rigorous testing we put them through” and is “working with the health authorities to support their efforts to identify the source or cause of this infant’s infection,” according to Perille. The U.S. government has reportedly made no recall of the product.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has referred the infant formula to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration for examination and has advised parents that “powdered infant formulas are not commercially sterile products” and destroying bacteria amongst the production process may not be possible, while “no exclusively breastfed infants have been reported to have” contracted Cronobacter sakazakii. Pending test completion, “it cannot be determined whether the illness is linked to Enfamil Newborn Formula 12.5 oz. cans lot #ZP1K7G or an outside source”, according to a statement from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. The department has also suggested that parents observe the World Health Organisation’s ‘Guidelines for the safe preparation, storage and handling of powdered infant formula’, which recommends “washing your hands with soap and water, thoroughly sterilizing all feeding equipment in hot, soapy water and preparing enough formula for only one feeding at a time”.



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July 10, 2011

US government reports decline in teen birth rate and binge drinking, rise in poverty and drug abuse

US government reports decline in teen birth rate and binge drinking, rise in poverty and drug abuse

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

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Image: Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget.

The US government has released a report with mixed news on the health of American children, ranging from a fall in the rates of teen births, premature births, deaths from injury, and binge drinking, to a rise in the rates of drug abuse, poverty, and obesity.

The report, named America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2011, was prepared by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, with participants from 22 federal government agencies and their private partners. This year’s report — the group’s fifteenth — presents 41 indicators on children’s “family and social environment, economic circumstances, health care, physical environment and safety, behavior, education, and health”.

The teen birth rate dropped from 21.7 per 1,000 girls in 2008 to 20.1 per 1,000 girls in 2009. This trend has been going on for a while, with only a slight “blip” a few years ago, according to Edward Sondik, the director of the National Center for Health Statistics in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC is unsure of the causes of this trend, but teen births are of particular concern to federal health officials due to the socioeconomic burden of pregnancy and childbearing.

The rates of premature births, infant deaths, teen injuries, and binge drinking among 12th graders also fell during the same time period. Math scores for 8th and 12th graders rose by 2009.

On the other hand, the report observes a rising rate of illegal drug usage, and of children living in poverty or inadequate housing. These characteristics may correlate with the marital status of the children’s parents: 41 percent of babies are born to unmarried mothers.

The percentage of children with asthma remained at about 9.6 percent from 2008 to 2009, but steadily rose from 8.8 percent in 2001.

The report also features a new section on adoption, which is generally preferred over long-term foster care or other alternatives. About 2.5 percent of US children are adopted, and 21.5 percent are of a different race than their guardians.



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April 24, 2011

Massachusetts study finds links between bullying and family violence

Massachusetts study finds links between bullying and family violence

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

School bullying
Image: Diego Grez.

Both bullies and their victims are linked with an increased incidence of violence in the home, according to a report on Massachusetts middle and high school students released on Thursday.

In a survey of 5,807 students in 138 schools covering incidents in the past year, about 25 percent of middle school students and 16 percent of high school students reported being bullied at school.

Between 13 to 15 percent of victims of bullying said they had seen violence in their families or been physically injured by a family member during the same time frame.

Students who were identified as being both bullied and victimized by a bully (called “bully-victims” in the study) were the most likely to report they had been physically injured by a family member, compared to those who said they were neither a victim nor a bully. They also reported a higher frequency of suicidal ideation or attempted suicide than victims or bullies who were not bully-victims.

“Sometimes, people who we have thought of as perpetrators are actually very vulnerable themselves,” said John Auerbach, Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Public Health whose agency collected survey data on 5,807 middle and high school students for the study.

Cquote1.svg A comprehensive approach that encompasses school officials, students and their families is needed to prevent bullying among middle school and high school students. Cquote2.svg

—CDC

The results, analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, also confirmed prior findings that bulling is associated with an increased incidence of suicidal ideation and attempted suicide, poor grades and drug abuse. The CDC said the report is the first detailed, state-level analysis of the risk factors for school bullying.

Last year a 15-year-old Massachusetts student Phoebe Prince of South Hadley committed suicide, focusing the state on the issue of bullying. In May 2010 Massachusetts passed legislation outlawing bullying in school and online, outlining procedures for the investigation and reporting of bullying, and establishing school programs to prevent retaliation. This study was completed a year later.

The finding that there is a link between bullying and family violence shows the importance of involving families in programs and strategies addressing bullying.

“A comprehensive approach that encompasses school officials, students and their families is needed to prevent bullying among middle school and high school students,” said CDC researchers.



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April 22, 2011

All US states could have smoke-free laws by 2020

All US states could have smoke-free laws by 2020

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Friday, April 22, 2011

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Image: Stefan-Xp.

Government officials have predicted that by 2020, all US states will have bans on indoor smoking in private sector bars and restaurants, the chief sources of secondhand smoke, if the current rate of progress in enacting smoking bans continues.

In a press release issued yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that by December 31, 2010 there were 26 states with broad indoor smoking bans, covering workplaces, bars and restaurants, while an additional 10 states had banned smoking in one or two specific indoor areas. Cumulatively, these restriction cover almost one half of the country’s population, 47.8 percent, while a remaining 88 million nonsmokers are still exposed to secondhand smoke yearly, including half of all children over three years old.

In comparison, in 2000 there were no states that had broad indoor smoking bans.

Some states have enacted less restrictive laws, such as requiring separate ventilation systems for smoking areas. Southern and western states are lagging in implementing smoking bans. Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina have banned smoking in two of the three sectors. Currently there are only seven states having no state wide restrictions on indoor smoking, although some have local ordinances. These are Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming, according to the CDC.

The full report was published in this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Secondhand smoke is a known cause of a number of diseases including lung cancer and heart disease. The Surgeon General’s report of 2010 says, “tobacco smoke damages every organ in the body, resulting in disease and death.”

Cquote1.svg Completely prohibiting smoking in all public places and workplaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure. Cquote2.svg

—Ursula Bauer, CDC

In the press release, Ursula Bauer of the CDC, said that secondhand smoke is the cause of 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths yearly in nonsmokers. “Completely prohibiting smoking in all public places and workplaces is the only way to fully protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke exposure,” she said.

Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the CDC said, “Eliminating smoking from work sites, restaurants and bars is a low-cost, high-impact strategy that will protect nonsmokers and allow them to live healthier, longer, more productive lives while lowering health care costs associated with secondhand smoke.”

The American Heart Association issued a statement: “We must zero in on those areas that continue to lag despite studies that show smoke-free policies benefit public health and the local economy with lower health care costs.”

Gary Nolan of the Smokers Club, a smoker’s rights group, said, “It wouldn’t surprise me if they prevailed.” He noted that heavy pressure is being applied to bars and restaurants by public health officials to ban smoking. “It’s just a little bit more liberty slipping away at the hands of big government.”



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  • “China plans to ban smoking in indoor public places” — Wikinews, March 25, 2011
  • “Florida prisons ban inmate smoking” — Wikinews, March 16, 2011

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