Nysha Recent News

Public Health and Policy

Graphic warnings stoke teen smoking: study

Santa Monica, CA — Anti-smoking advocates consider graphic images of the terrible effects of cigarette smoking to be highly effective in keeping people from taking up smoking. 

 

But an unusual study by the legendary RAND Corporation indicates that, with vulnerable teens who never smoked before, the graphic images actually encourage them to start smoking.

 

Researcher at the famous think tank built a full-scale mock convenience store in a Pittsburgh mall—complete with full-size graphic anti-smoking posters.

 

Teens who expressed little or no desire to smoke in pre-exposure surveys were little affected by the graphic posters.  But teens considered at high risk for smoking based on their pre-exposure surveys appeared to want to smoke more after seeing the posters.

 

“We went into the study with the idea that the graphic posters would diminish kids’ desire to smoke, and when we analyzed the data we were shocked to find that this was not the case,” RAND researcher William Shadel, PhD, told MedPage Today.

 

According to Dr. Shadel, smoking-risk teens may want to smoke more after seeing the posters because they respond defensively to them, “causing them to discount or downplay health risks.”

 

The study findings were published Dec. 13 in Nicotine & Tobacco Research.

 

In related news, the NIH’s newly-released annual Monitoring the Future survey finds that nearly one in three U.S. 12th Graders reported use of some kind of vaping device last year.  While teen smoking is dropping, teen vaping—or usage of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs)—is rising.

 

Moody’s takes stock of public health

New York, NY — Ask a Wall Street institution to take stock of U.S. public health—and 30 percent of national adverse health traceable to just five conditions is what you get.

 

On Dec. 14, industry pillar Moody’s Analytics released a report saying that depression, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and substance use disorders are responsible for 30 percent of adverse health among those covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.

 

The report also suggests that mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and affective disorder may be under-diagnosed in many places.

 

Affordable Care Act 2018 signups hit 8.8 million

Washington, D.C. — As of Dec. 22, nearly 8.8 million people signed up for an insurance plan through HealthCare.gov during the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s open enrollment period this year.  Last year’s total enrollment in HealthCare.gov plans was 9.2 million.

 

21st Century Cures Act marks 1st year

Washington, D.C. — A Dec. 12 joint editorial in CQ Roll Call this December hailed the first 12 months of the 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan bill that was President Barack Obama’s last piece of signed legislation.

 

“We began with one goal in mind: helping patients and their families,” wrote Cures co-authors Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.).

 

The Cures Act currently funds four major National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiatives: the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot; the Precision Medicine Initiative; the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative; and the Regenerative Medicine Innovation Project, which aims to accelerate the field of stem cell science.

 

“Today is a day to reflect on how far we have come, but also a reminder that we have much work left to do,” wrote Upton and DeGette.  “Patients and their families are counting on us.”

 

Christie: Docs should need ongoing opioid training

Baltimore, MD — According to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, doctors should be required to take continuing education classes on opioid prescribing if they want to keep their prescribing licenses.

 

Christie, who chaired the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, made the recommendation at a late-November Congressional field hearing at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

 

“As a lawyer, I have to take continuing education to maintain my license,” Christie said.  “How is it that physicians could have a DEA license and not be required to take continuing medical education on this problem when 64,000 people died from it last year?"

 

State DOH: New York flu season strong

Albany, NY — According to a Dec. 14 statement by the New York State Dept. of Health (DOH), flu is now prevalent across the state—and everyone should get the flu shot.

 

With the announcement that this year’s seasonal influenza virus is “prevalent,” health care workers who haven’t had a flu shot are now legally required to wear masks around patients.

 

The announcement reflects the U.S. flu season this year, which officials at the CDC have said could be tougher than usual.

 

Influenza is a serious illness whose season occurs primarily from October through May, often peaking in February.  It is not too late to get vaccinated, and there are ample amounts of the vaccine available.

 

FDA Approvals

  • Luxturna, gene therapy for rare vision-loss disorders called biallelic retinal dystrophy, Dec. 19