The Law: NYC Cigarette Purchase

cigarettesSince the fight to raise the age for the purchase of cigarettes from 18 to 21 started in New York City, lawmakers in other states may soon be following suit. This is particularly of interest now given Mayor Bloomberg’s other plan to make stores conceal cigarettes in their store as discussed in a recent post here.

Should this bill that was introduced last Friday become law, the state of New York would become a pioneer.  Other states have increased the age to 19, but not 21 (although a couple of towns have done that).

If passed, New York would become the first state to take this unprecedented move. Four states and some communities have increased the age to 19, and at least two towns have agreed to raise it to 21.  According to State Senator Diane Savino, “anything we can do to stop young people from starting is a step in the right direction.”  Given this, the proposal makes sense if the data assembled by City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn is anything to go by. She found that 80 percent of smokers begin the habit before they turn 21.  Thus if they intervene by adjusting the law, this could have a significant impact on the health of these youngsters.

Bidding Farewell to the Fizz

sodasIt seems that Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on sodas might not have been necessary after all. Despite the fact that ultimately it was overturned, recent studies have shown that water is replacing the fizzy drink buzz in terms of popularity amongst Americans.

This has been a long time coming given that soda has been in the fast lane for the last two decades.  Per year, these days Americans down an average of 58 gallons of the pure stuff as compared with 44 gallons of soda. Some experts put this down to an increasing awareness in the role soda is playing in the nation’s obesity issue.  As well, there has been a greater marketing effort generated by the bottled water companies.

However, when one talks of an increased consumption of water over soda, within this statistic is the flavored waters which can carry as much sugar as soda.  For example, as Associate Professor of Health Policy at Johns Hopkins University, Sara Bleich points out, the Vitaminwater brand carries 125 calories and 32.5 grams of sugar per 20 ounce bottle.  Soda has around 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar.   This has been put down to the fact that consumers are letting themselves believe that the sugared water drinks are actually healthy.

Ultimately, the healthiest drink as most people know is plain water.  But it is very tempting to believe that the sugary version is likewise as healthy. In general, with the problem of late onset obesity in the States increasing, it is important for everyone to be aware of the overall sugar intake in their diet, and, removing it from their drinks is a good first step.

Improving US Public Health Care

Eye on New York:

Over $971 million has been awarded by America’s Department of Health and Human Services in an effort to enhance treatment and potentially eliminate a whole slew of public health threats.  This money will be distributed throughout each state, eight American territories, and four large metropolitan areas.   Included in this amount is over $30 million which will be designated specifically towards health care and public health preparedness in the New York region.

Around $352 million of this overall sum has been given to the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) cooperative agreement. Of that, $12,036,626 has been awarded to New York. From the close to $620 million designated to the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement, $19,926,605, has been set aside for New York.

America’s Obesity Issue

Truthfully, one way of doing this is through preventive medicine and by averting disaster where possible. In other words – focusing on the obesity issue (incredibly prevalent throughout the United States of America) – losing weight and getting in shape.  As noted in a recent post, Mayor Bloomberg has been working on this for a while now.  The better shape people are in, the less medical care they will require.  It is likely that this was one of the reasons The Campaign to End Obesity was established, following its finding that the nation spends a staggering $168 billion in medical costs per annum on obesity-related healthcare.

Coping with Hazards

So that is at least something – in theory – that can be worked on.  The issue of hazards and emergencies is much harder to control and thus it seems justifiable that significant sums are now being poured into this.  Indeed, according to the assistant secretary for preparedness and response of the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Nicole Lurie, “having systems in place to provide better treatment for disaster survivors and improved public health for our communities also leads to better health outcomes on a day-to-day basis.”

Ultimately what needs to happen in New York’s health care industry – and indeed throughout the entire world – is for less money to be poured into issues that are within our control potentially (such as obesity) so that more can be designated for natural disasters and the like that we simply cannot control.

New York City Baby’s Life Expectancy: Mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that the life expectancy of a New York City baby born in 2009 has increased to 80.6 years. In 2000, the expectancy was 77.6, and today’s national rate is 78.2 years.

Mayor Bloomberg publicized the figures in a statement alongside Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley. During his statement, the mayor also cited New York’s health interventions, which include anti-smoking campaigns and strengthened testing and treatment for HIV.

He added that the life expectancy for New Yorkers in their forties has increased by two and a half years, to age 82, between years 2000 and 2009.