Health Highlights: April 28, 2015

Health Highlights: April 28, 2015

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

Hawaii Poised to Raise Legal Age to Buy Tobacco to 21

Hawaii is on the verge of becoming the first U.S. state to make it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy tobacco products.

All that is needed now is for Gov. David Ige to sign the bill that was passed by the Legislature on Friday, CNN News reported. Ige has already approved legislation banning the use of e-cigarettes wherever smoking is illegal. Currently, the legal age for buying cigarettes in Hawaii is 18.

Forty-six states have laws prohibiting anyone under 18 from buying tobacco products, according to CNN. The other four states, Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah, have set the minimum legal age at 19. Meanwhile, dozens of cities and towns have raised the minimum legal age to 21, the news service said.

“This bold step will reduce smoking among young people, save lives and help make the next generation tobacco-free,” said Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement.

“We know that 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21, and tobacco companies spend $27.4 million annually in Hawaii to market their deadly and addictive products,” Myers said. “In Hawaii, tobacco use claims 1,400 lives and costs $526 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.4 percent of Hawaii’s high school students smoke. Today’s action will help to reduce tobacco’s awful toll.”

A survey conducted last year also revealed that more than 70 percent of Hawaii voters support the legislation, CNN reported.

The Hawaii bill comes on the heels of a federal report released last month that found raising the minimum age to 21 nationwide would result in nearly a quarter-million fewer premature deaths and 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019, the news service said.


Puppy Chews Recalled Over Salmonella Risk

One lot of Nylabone Puppy Starter Kit dog chews are being recalled by the company due to fears of contamination with the salmonella germ that could harm dogs, or the dog’s owner if he or she touches the chew.

In a corporate news release from TFH Publications Inc./Nylabone Products, of Neptune, N.J., the company says the chews were distributed across the United States and Canada, and through a domestic mail order facility. The recall includes 1.69 oz. packages marked Lot 21935, UPC 0-18214-81291-3, located on the back of the package, and with an expiration date of 3/22/18 also stamped on the back of the package.

While no illnesses have yet been reported, the “potential for contamination” with salmonella in the puppy starter kits was found after routine testing, the company said.

Consumers are advised not to use the chews under recall, and they can return the item to wherever it was purchased for a full refund.


Genetically Altered Foods Removed From Chipotle Menu

Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurant Inc. announced on Monday that it will start serving its Mexican fare without any genetically modified ingredients.

Although Chipotle is the first major restaurant chain to eliminate these ingredients, known as GMO products, it was a relatively easy task for the company to complete, Steve Ells, founder and co-chief executive of Chipotle, told the New York Times.

“The vast majority of our ingredients don’t come in a GMO variety, and we use lots of whole, unprocessed foods, so it was easier for us to do,” Ells explained.

This is not the first time the Denver-based company has led the way in this arena, the Times reported. In 2013, Chipotle began to indicate which items on its menu contained genetically modified ingredients. Some finer dining restaurants have since followed suit, according to the newspaper.

Grocers are also taking similar steps. Whole Foods stores are to have no GMO products by 2018, and Walmart is rapidly expanding its selection of organic foods, which cannot contain GMO ingredients by law, according to the Times.

Whether other major restaurant chains will do the same as Chipotle is unclear, the newspaper reported, because it is more expensive to use products that do not have GMO ingredients in them.

Finding oils for cooking was somewhat tricky for the Chipotle chain, Ells said, because more than 90 percent of corn and soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. Also, canola oil comes from rapeseed, another large GMO crop.

Chipotle restaurants will now use sunflower oil to fry its chips and tortillas, while fajita vegetables and rice will be cooked with a non-GMO rice bran oil, the Times reported.