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US mulls ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid youth ‘epidemic’

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WASHINGTON: US regulators said Wednesday they are considering an immediate ban on flavored e-cigarettes, as the Food and Drug Administration chief warned of an “epidemic” of vaping among youths.
The agency sent more than 1,100 warning letters and 131 fines to retailers it said illegally sold JUUL and other e-cigarette products to minors during a nationwide undercover sting including brick-and-mortar and online stores this summer.
The crackdown marked the “largest coordinated enforcement effort in the FDA’s history,” the agency said in a statement, warning of even harsher action to come.
“We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion, and we must adjust certain aspects of our comprehensive strategy to stem this clear and present danger,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement.
“We’re especially focused on the flavored e-cigarettes. And we’re seriously considering a policy change that would lead to the immediate removal of these flavored products from the market.”
Gottlieb cited preliminary data that has not yet been published, but which he said shows “youth use of e-cigs is rising very sharply.”
The data is expected to be published in the coming months. The FDA declined to release the figures publicly.
According to the Washington Post, the preliminary data is from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, and it shows a 75 percent increase in e-cigarette use among high school students in 2018 compared to 2017.
“I use the word epidemic with great care. E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous – and dangerous – trend among teens,” added Gottlieb.
“The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end.”
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids’ president Matthew Myers, the FDA has made a crucial step toward curtailing youth use of e-cigarettes.
“Critically, FDA for the first time recognizes that it must be addressed by requiring that manufacturers remove flavored products from the market unless those products have been reviewed by FDA, alter current marketing practices, eliminate online sales and take significant steps to curtail illegal sales to kids,” Myers said.
He said the FDA move could “represent a fundamental turning point” if the agency requires “all of these products undergo premarket review now, not four years from now.”
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat a nicotine liquid into a vapor that can be inhaled. Many use fruit-flavored liquids that critics say appeal to kids, and risk addicting them to nicotine.

 

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Environment

Trash burning continues despite smog alerts

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ISLAMABAD: The unprecedented fatal Smog phenomenon has caused heavy casualties and hazardous diseases across the region especially, in the neighboring countries of China and India however, the garbage burning continues in the twin cities despite several admonitions by health, environmental experts and concerned authorities.
Talking to APP, Ahmed Ali a student and resident of I-10/1 regretted the open burning of trash in various garbage trolleys, open places and roadsides causing suffocation and serious respiratory problems. He said that environmental reports, experts and doctors are repeatedly advising to avoid trash burning but still it persists in almost every sector of the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. “There are shamming social media campaigns and hashtags going viral over the internet but nobody is bothering about creating awareness among the masses on serious and poisoning emissions caused due to the burning of waste.
There are no reports in the media over the unbridled burning of garbage at the part of the citizens, sanitation workers and rag pickers who are putting public health and environment at serious risk,” he remarked. Monazza Shehzad said that people in I-12 sector mischievously set heaps of garbage and at times dry grass in the deserted patches of the sector for fun which produces huge smoke screens in the air. “It (smoke of burning garbage) produces a pungent and stinking smell that sometimes create an emergency situation for an asthmatic patient and senior citizens which should be dealt with a strong mechanism from the concerned authorities,” she added.
Farkhanda Ilyas, a resident of Asghar Mall Scheme, Rawalpindi said that trash and household waste burning is common in every nook and corner of the area. “People are found setting a small pile of garbage at the fire just to warm them which is deplorable as they do not know its impacts on the environment and public health. Such persons should be charged with heavy fines and punishment by the concerned authorities,” she said.
The Environment Protection Agency (PAK-EPA) officials said that the agency was making all-out efforts but it is now at the part of the society and media to educate the masses over the looming issue they were breeding themselves as EPA was doing its lot within available resources.

 

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Health

Rational use of antibiotics

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ISLAMABAD: The National Institute of Health (NIH), Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination in collaboration with World Health Organization (WHO) and Rawalpindi Medical University (RMU) Monday organized a seminar today at Holy Family Hospital Rawalpindi to increase awareness regarding the rational use of antibiotics.
The theme of the seminar was “Change can’t wait. Our time with antibiotics is running out”. This seminar was a part of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week and was attended by the physicians, young doctors, paramedics, students and faculty members of Rawalpindi Medical University. The aim of the seminar was to increase awareness regarding the rational use of antibiotics.  It was intended to promote best practices among the general public and healthcare workers to minimize the widespread use of antibiotics.
During the seminar, Dr. Afrinish Amir, Laboratory Coordinator, NIH discussed the Global and National overview of AMR resistance, and the existing misuse of antibiotics all over the world in different forms.  Dr. Nasim Akhtar, Infectious Diseases physician Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) discussed the precautions to be taken by the paramedical staff to prevent the risk of bacterial transmission and antibiotic resistance among patients. She added, increasing Nosocomial infection within hospital setting was also an alarming situation which was very hard to treat due to antimicrobial resistance.
The session was concluded with the brief message by the Vice Chancellor of Rawalpindi Medical University, Dr. Muhammad Umar, who highlighted the significance of creating awareness about AMR and finding a permanent solution for this problem for the benefit of future generations.  At the end of the seminar, awareness walk was also organized by the participants.

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Health

Global fight against malaria has stalled!

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Global fight against malaria has stalled

MAPUTO: The World Health Organisation on Monday said global efforts to fight malaria have hit a plateau as it reported there were more cases of the killer disease in 2017 than the previous year.
The latest WHO report showed that the number of malaria cases climbed to 219 million last year, two million higher than 2016, while international funding has declined.
“The world faces a new reality,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned as the UN agency launched the new report.
“As progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” the WHO chief said.
Malaria, which is spread to people through the bites of infected female mosquitoes, occurs in 91 countries but about 90 percent of the cases and deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Foreign funding to some of the most affected countries has declined, in certain instances by more than 20 percent for every individual at risk of contracting the disease.
“A considerable proportion of people at risk of infection are not being protected, including pregnant women and children in Africa,” the WHO chief said.
The disease killed 435,000 people last year, the majority of them children under five in Africa.
Another constraint in fighting malaria has been mosquitoes building up resistance to some commonly used insecticides, according to the report.
WHO said it was embarking on new ways to scale up the battle against one of the world’s deadliest diseases.
The plan includes country-led projects to “jumpstart aggressive” control efforts, said Kesete Admasu, who heads Roll Back Malaria, a global partnership initiative to curb the parasitic disease.
Mozambique is one of the target countries.
“Business, as usual, is no longer an option,” said Admasu.
Most malaria cases reported last year were in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Five countries accounted for nearly half of the cases: Nigeria (25 percent), DR Congo (11 percent), Mozambique (five percent), and India and Uganda with four percent each.

 

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