New York City, a pioneer at smoking bans in restaurants, bars and workplaces, has extended its policies to the outside world, with a new law that makes smoking in city parks, beaches or public plazas a crime punishable by a $50 fine. [More]
An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that everyone get flu vaccinations from now on, not just people in special higher risk groups. According to WebMD, “the CDC almost certainly will make universal flu vaccination official U.S. policy for this fall’s 2010-2011 flu season, as it consistently follows the advice of the panel of outside experts.” [More]
We’ve all been there, trying on a pair of shorts in a Kohl’s dressing room when suddenly we feel the cold sting of three used syringes. Or maybe it’s a joy that was limited to a Texas woman who was shopping yesterday at the Kohl’s in Harris County, Texas.
Major health insurance companies own nearly $4.5 billion worth of stock in tobacco companies, according to a Harvard University study. It kinda makes sense: health insurers know tobacco sickens people, and so as long as people are smoking, why not profit from the killer? It’s what David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study, calls “the combined taxidermist and veterinarian approach: either way you get your dog back.”
Cigarette companies have conspired for decades to defraud and mislead the public about the health risks of “light” and “low-tar” cigarettes, a federal appeals court said yesterday. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that a federal district judge was right to ban the terms from appearing on cigarette packages. Under the ruling, cigarette companies may soon be required to issue a public mea culpa admitting that they were killing people when they said cigarettes were safe and non-addictive.
Pack up your maracas, Carnival is returning to Mexico! The cruise line wasn’t happy with putzing off the California coast, and the CDC says that swine flu isn’t deadly enough to keep us out of Mexico forever. By the end of the month, souvenir-seeking Americans will again be able to down margaritas and scoop up trinkets in Cabo, Cozumel, and Puerto Vallarta.
Everyone’s still unsure whether the H1N1 Swine Flu is a mild outbreak or something worse, but in the meantime you can amuse yourself with this grim Google Map of suspected and actual cases around the globe. It will give you something to do until the time comes when you have to decide between joining Randall Flagg or Mother Abagail.
Call it the Twilight phenomenon. The EPA held its first ever “bed bug summit” last week, to discuss the rise in infestations of the tiny nocturnal bloodsuckers. There was talk of more ‘bed bug task forces’ in big cities, possible federal research into new technology such as steaming or freezing the bugs, and lots of icky close-ups of parasites.
The House this week voted to empower the FDA to regulate tobacco, just in case people still smoke even after new taxes push the cost of cigarettes to over $9 per pack and the recession bankrupts everyone. Under the measure, which passed 298-112, the FDA would be able to set nicotine levels, control cigarette advertising, and require companies to provide a full list of cigarette ingredients. As usual, the killjoys in the Senate may force the House to smoke a light version of the cigarette bill…
A new campaign arguing that the 21-year-old drinking age is not working, and that it “has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking” on college campuses has been signed by an eclectic group of over 100 college presidents, including those of Duke, Dartmouth, The Ohio State University, and Johns Hopkins.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is the chemical used in various plastic bottles and can linings that Canada recently banned, consumers in Arkansas, California, and Ohio have filed lawsuits over, and Playtex and Nalgene have stopped using. The fear is that it’s toxic—studies on animals in Canada have shown that it’s damaging, and some tests in the U.S. suggest it’s harmful to humans as well. Critics of the anti-BPA movement point out that the human studies rely on super high dosages that never occur in real life, and that making safety decisions based on the general public’s fears isn’t exactly scientific.
Over 100 rodent droppings in one cooler alone is too many, says the Chicago Department of Public Heath… and so the Lincoln Park Whole Foods has been closed until the management can eliminate the infestation. Ick.
Bedbugs are usually thought of as something that only hotel guests have to worry about, but apparently New Yorkers who like to sit on benches while they wait for the subway should be concerned about the bloodsuckers as well.
New York’s famous Serendipity 3 restaurant, home of the world’s most expensive dessert (the $25,000 “Frrozen Haute Chocolate”), has been shut down by the New York City Health Department after the restaurant failed two health inspections in a month.
Attention residents of Calgary: Anyone who ate at the McDonald’s at Foothills Industrial Park, 5326 72 Ave. S.E., across from the Calgary Soccer Centre from Oct. 1 to 23 is at risk for Hepatitis A after a food handler tested positive for the disease.