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Health Highlights: June 19, 2019


Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

San Francisco May Ban Sales of E-Cigarettes

A ban on the sale and distribution of electronic cigarettes being considered by San Francisco supervisors -- if passed, it would be the first such ban by any city in the United States.

The goal is to reduce youth use of e-cigarettes until the Food and Drug Administration completes a review of the effects of e-cigarettes on public health, the Associated Press reported.

Another measure would forbid the manufacturing of e-cigarettes on city property. Leading e-cigarette maker Juul is based in San Francisco.

If the measures are approved by city supervisors, they would require a second vote before becoming law, the AP reported.

"Young people have almost indiscriminate access to a product that shouldn't even be on the market," City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. Due to FDA inaction on the issue "it's unfortunately falling to states and localities to step into the breach," he added.

Since 2014, e-cigarettes have been the most widely used tobacco product among young people in the U.S. Last year, 1 in 5 high school students reported vaping in the previous month, a federal government survey found, the AP reported.

E-cigarettes are associated with heart attacks, strokes and lung disease, according to Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control and Research, and a supporter of the San Francisco measures.

E-cigarettes have "completely reversed the progress we've made in youth smoking in the last few years," he told the AP.

The San Francisco measures are opposed by the e-cigarette industry and groups representing small businesses.

Last year, city voters approved a ban on sales of candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products. All but two states have at least one law restricting youth access to e-cigarettes, according to the Public Health Law Center at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, the AP reported.

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Connecticut Bans Tobacco Sales to People Under Age 21

A law prohibiting people under age 21 from buying any form of tobacco, including e-cigarettes and vaping products, was signed into law Tuesday by Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and takes effect on Oct. 1.

Fourteen other states have similar laws.

The new law is necessary because 95% of smokers start using cigarettes before age 21, and young people have a higher risk of addiction, according to lawmakers and health advocacy groups, the Hartford Courant reported.

"With our nation facing a youth e-cigarette epidemic, Tobacco 21 laws are now more important than ever,'' said Harold Wimmer, CEO and president of the American Lung Association.

"The State of Connecticut took a significant step in protecting the health and wellness of its residents. We already know that adolescents and young adults are uniquely vulnerable to the effects of nicotine and nicotine addiction, making this legislation an important, lifesaving measure," according to Wimmer, the Courant reported.

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Faith in Vaccines Lowest in Wealthy Nations: Survey

While many people worldwide have faith in vaccines, those in wealthy countries have the lowest levels of confidence, a new survey reveals.

Researchers surveyed more than 140,000 people, ages 15 and older, in more than 140 countries and found that 79% agreed that vaccines are safe, and 9 in 10 said their children had been vaccinated, CNN reported.

People in Bangladesh and Rwanda had the strongest confidence in vaccines, with nearly all respondents in both countries agreeing that vaccines are safe, effective and important for children.

But only 59% of people in Western Europe, 40% of those in Eastern Europe, and 72% of those in North America agreed that vaccines were safe, according to the survey by the UK medical research charity Wellcome Trust, CNN reported.

Vaccines "are one of our most powerful public health tools, and we need people to have confidence in them if they are to be most effective," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust.

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Obesity Rates Fall for U.S. Preschoolers

The obesity rate among American preschoolers on government food aid fell from 16% in 2010 to 14% in 2016, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study says.

It looked at children ages 2 through 4 who receive food vouchers and other services in the federal Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. About 1 in 5 children that age were enrolled in 2016, the Associated Press reported.

The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A previous study of children the same age in the program found at least small declines in obesity in 18 states between 2008 and 2011, but it wasn't clear if that trend was just a blip, the AP reported.

The new study "gives us more hope that this is a real change," said Heidi Blanck, head of obesity prevention at the CDC.

Increased availability of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may have contributed to the obesity declines, the researchers said.

Among children ages 2-5 who were not enrolled in the program, obesity rates in 2016 remained stable at about 14%, according to Blanck, the AP reported.

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