CDC Warns of Increased Risk for HIV-Positive Smokers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s most recent ad campaign is a series of graphic TV ads called “Tips From Former Smokers” that outline—in gritty detail—the negative effects of smoking. They include Terrie, a 40-year-old woman diagnosed with oral and throat cancer; Amanda, a 30-year-old woman whose smoking during pregnancy resulted in a premature birth; and Brian, a 45-year-old gay man who suffered a stroke as a result of complications from smoking and being HIV-positive. (Check out his video above.)

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Expert Opinion: 3 Things a Philly Doc Thinks You Should Know About E-Cigs

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Shutterstock

You’ve probably heard the term “vaping” a lot recently. It’s used to describe the use of e-cigarettes and experiencing the inhalation of the “vapors”  from the product. Vape shops are cropping up everywhere in Philly, allowing customers to use e-cigarettes in their venues and tapping into the now billion dollar industry.

No doubt, sudden prevalence of these cafes is strengthening the marketing strategy for e-cigs, but it raises some questions, too. As a physician, it’s important for me to understand lifestyle habits of patients that may place their health at risk. I’ve added e-cigarettes to my history-taking list of questions. From a public-health perspective, here are some answers to some of the concerns:

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Mayor Nutter’s Public Park Smoking Ban Is Pointless Nanny-State Grandstanding

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Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter seems to be in the middle of an existential crisis. Now, normally this confrontation with life, the universe, and everything is perfectly natural and OK. That is, most men react to these crises with something harmless like impulse-buying a sports car.

The problem here, though, is that Nutter is taking at least 375,000 Philadelphians along for his ride into the “What’s the point?” abyss with his new executive order “banning” smoking in public parks.

Nutter’s the guy who callously slashed library funding by $8 million in 2008, eliminating 117 library jobs. Later, Nutter tearfully “corrected” his wrong by putting back a fraction ($2.5 million) of the original cut in his proposed budget this year. He also proposed the new property tax valuations, called the AVI. It’s arguably a necessary fix but nobody’s happy about it, particularly because the AVI seems at best complicated and at worst arbitrary. And, Nutter’s the guy currently presiding over a police force disproportionately arresting black people while seemingly ignoring white people violating those very same laws.

Basically, Nutter seems to be in the middle of an identity crisis because he sure as hell looks a lot like former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg right now.

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Philadelphia Bans Smoking in Public Parks

Thinking of lighting up a smoke in Rittenhouse Square? You can still do it, but you’ll be breaking the law.

On Tuesday, Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law a bill banning smoking in the city’s parks. Per the mayor’s own words, the ban is “effective immediately.”

Nutter says there are no talks in expanding a smoking ban to public city streets. The new park smoking ban comes for the usual reasons governments pass them: Concerns over secondhand smoke, general environmental worries and as an encouragement for smokers to quit.

“Eliminating smoking in public parks is a commonsense policy that clearly aligns with our City’s existing smoke-free regulations for recreation centers, pools and playgrounds. Specifically, this policy protects the environment and the health and wellness of our citizens,” the mayor said in a release.

The ban will be enforced by staffers in city parks and essentially has no penalty associated with it. Per a city press release, the Parks and Recreation and Public Health departments will also be doing “No butts about it” PSAs.

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Study: Smoking Screws Up Your Taste Buds

 

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In today’s scary smoking-related news: Apparently, smoking doesn’t just give you wrinkles and an inhaler dependency, it also messes with your ability to taste. According to the Huffington Post, a new study shows that both current and former smokers have more difficulty identifying the bitter taste of caffeine, compared with non-smokers.

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Main Line Health Will No Longer Hire Smokers, Starting in May

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Shutterstock

Almost exactly one year after the University of Pennsylvania Health System announced a move to weed out tobacco users from its payroll, Main Line Health just released details about a new tobacco-use employment policy, effective May 1, 2014, which will bar nicotine and tobacco users from employment at the health system’s four hospitals and other area facilities. Current employees will be required to disclose whether or not they use tobacco or nicotine products, and those who do will pay a surcharge for their health care benefits beginning in 2015.

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On Heels of CVS, Customers Call on Walgreens to Drop Tobacco, Too

Judging by your Facebook likes and shares on Wednesday, it seems a lot of you were as happy as I was to hear that CVS will stop selling tobacco products at all of its stores by October 1st. Now customers at Walgreens and Duane Reade (the latter, of course, the ubiquitous pharmacy chain in NYC, which is owned by Walgreens) are calling on those retailers to follow suit.

A petition on the website Change.org quickly cropped up this week, calling on the powers-that-be at Walgreens to discontinue sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products at their stores. Here’s the text of the petition:

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CVS To Stop Selling Cigarettes … But Is That Enough?

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Shutterstock

Wednesday, drugstore chain CVS announced that it will no longer sell tobacco products. (And now people want Walgreens to follow suit.) The move will cost them upward of $2 billion in revenue and is part of an effort to be more of a healthcare company. Many are applauding the move. I agree. But why stop there? Ever been to a CVS? There are plenty of other products that they sell that should also be taken off the shelves. I can think of 16 right of the top of my head.

Shampoo.  Nope, haven’t used the stuff in years. And you wouldn’t believe what I save on barber visits. Someday I’ll sit you down and explain to you some of the benefits of being bald. I see a lot of bald guys around like me. Not sure what all that shampoo fuss is about.

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