Editorial pages look at these public health topics and others.
Bloomberg: The FDA Wakes Up To The Danger Of E-Cigarettes
Like a parent who’s just caught the kids vaping in the backyard, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been jolted into realizing that electronic cigarettes are a problem. The agency’s wake-up call came in the form of startling early data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey indicating that e-cigarette use among high school students is up more than 75 percent since last year, and among middle-schoolers by 50 percent.FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has warned Juul and the other leading e-cigarette companies that he means business when he says they need to keep their devices out of teenagers’ hands. He accused the companies of so far treating the problem as a “public-relations challenge” rather than a serious legal and public-health concern. (10/29)
The New York Times: It’s Time To Talk About The N.R.A.
The massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, allegedly by a man with 21 guns registered to his name, was terrifyingly predictable. Every day in America, about 104 people die from guns, while in Japan it takes about a decade for that many to die from gun violence. Equally predictable was the response. President Trump and members of Congress denounced the violence but show no signs of actually doing anything to stop it: So Americans will continue to die from guns at a rate of one every 15 minutes. (Nicholas Kristof, 10/29)
Cincinnati Enquirer: Time To Double Down On Opioid Fight
This latest, bipartisan effort in the battle against our national opioid epidemic, called the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (H.R. 6), is a comprehensive package of bills targeted towards advancing treatment and recovery initiatives, improving addiction prevention, protecting our communities and bolstering efforts to fight deadly illicit synthetic drugs such as fentanyl.This isn’t the beginning of efforts to battle the ongoing opioid crisis, and it certainly is not the end either. It cannot be. (Brad Wenstrup, 10/29)
USA Today: It Took A Village To Kill My Brother: How Families, Hospitals And Government Fail Alcoholics
According to the National Institute of Health approximately 88,000 Americans die annually from alcohol-related causes. Yet, Columbia University’s 2012 study on addiction medicine found that “only a small fraction of individuals receive interventions or treatment consistent with scientific knowledge about what works.” Not every alcoholic responds favorably to any particular treatment — as with any chronic disease. It’s no surprise then that Tim failed to find sobriety in any of the 16 treatment facilities endorsing the 12-steps that he entered in his last three years. Many medical professionals recommend that hardcore addicts spend at least 90 days in an inpatient facility; he usually stayed about 30 days. (Jeff Gewert, 10/30)
USA Today: ‘A Star Is Born’ Movie Is A Lesson In Addiction Treatment Gone Wrong
I went to the movies this week to see “A Star Is Born”, so excited for a night off to watch a movie about music and romance. I’d never seen any of the previous versions and was caught off guard in the theater as the story that unfolded was another tragedy about the failures and missed opportunities of treating a person struggling with addiction. I grew up with parents who suffered from severe heroin use disorder and have worked in this field for over two decades. … This story could have had a different ending. The nearly 200 lives we lose to overdose death every day, based on 2017 numbers, could have and should have a different ending. (Jessica Hulsey Nickel, 10/28)
The Hill: Decline In US Birth Rates Shouldn’t Be Viewed As A Doomsday Prophecy
According to a recent report released by the CDC, fertility rates are down and the age of first-time mother’s has increased. As a high-risk pregnancy doctor who works at one of the busiest labor and delivery units in the country, these facts mirror my daily reality. But contrary to the alarming headlines that are invoking panic in reproductive-aged women across the country, the report’s findings are not necessarily bad news.In fact, I think they highlight an opposite truth. While there are many factors likely contributing to why the demographics of childbearing are shifting, the most noteworthy — particularly in a period when reproductive autonomy is being threatened — is that women are taking more control over the timing and circumstances of their pregnancies. (Priya Rajan, 10/29)
Stat: Postpartum Can Be Boundless Love And Deep Sadness. It Shouldn’t Mean Silence
It was hard to admit that a mental health crisis had crept up on me, just weeks after one of the happiest days of my life. I told myself that I was exaggerating my own symptoms, that I was just overtired. Many women have it worse, I thought. I could make it work. And yet, even as I was “making it work,” I was pierced by moments of breathtaking sadness. I was underwater before I saw the tide coming in.I loved my baby more than it was possible to describe. I also had postpartum depression and anxiety. It was hard to square those facts. (Alissa Ambrose, 10/30)
Los Angeles Times: The President Refuses To Take Responsibility For His Dangerous Rhetoric
If President Trump were a different — and better — man, he would have reacted to the sickening slaughter of 11 congregants at a Pittsburgh synagogue by engaging in some sober self-examination and refraining from incendiary comments that might energize other violent extremists. (10/30)
Stat: States Are Protecting Living Organ Donors. Congress Should Follow Suit
The national Living Donor Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 1270), sponsored by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), would guarantee that living donors can take unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to undergo living donor surgery and recover from it without losing their jobs. It would also prohibit insurers from declining or limiting coverage of a living donor under any life insurance policy, disability insurance policy, or long-term care insurance policy, or consider his or her kidney donation status in determining premiums. Many states have passed their own legislation to protect living donors and encourage living donation. (Lavarne A. Burton, 10/30)
Los Angeles Times: Dialysis Companies’ Anti-Proposition 8 Fight Has Gone Over The Top — In Self-Interested Campaign Spending
As we have learned from bitter experience over the years, in California’s ballot initiative process, money talks. On Proposition 8, which aims to rein in profits of the kidney dialysis industry, it’s been screaming at top volume. The for-profit dialysis industry just set an all-time record in spending, bringing its total war chest to defeat the measure to more than $ 111 million. That spending has bested the record set in 2016 by the pharmaceutical industry, which spent $ 109 million to kill a California ballot measure aimed at capping drug prices. (Michael Hiltzik, 10/29)
Dallas Morning News: Dallas Must Stop Arresting Homeless People For Not Having Homes
Dallas County’s homeless population is steadily rising. With no stable place to lay their heads, the homeless people have taken to the streets, a new normal that is disruptive to homeless residents and to the many business owners in Dallas and its surrounding cities. Government has responded to this difficult problem in the most expensive and inhumane way imaginable: by jailing its homeless population through aggressive prosecutions for criminal trespass, a low-level misdemeanor that simply means being on someone else’s property. The majority of these cases do not involve anyone’s home, but rather gas stations, hospitals, malls and even DART stations. (Philip Kingston and Mark Clayton, 10/29)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.