Public Health News Roundup: December 27
Young Adult Smoking Rates Fell in 2012
A recent survey from the National Institute on Drug Abuse finds that youth smoking rates fell in 2012 among eighth, tenth and twelfth graders. This is the second year in a row that the survey found a significant annual decline in youth smoking, following several years during which progress on getting more young people to quit had stalled.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, strategies that led to the lower smoking levels include higher tobacco taxes, well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs that include mass media campaigns, strong smoke-free laws, and effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing.
Rural Residents Less Likely to Follow Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines
A new study from the University of Utah finds that people who live in rural communities are less likely to follow colorectal cancer screening recommendations than urban residents. The researchers say the geographic disparity is evident across all risk groups, including those who have a family history of the disease. The study was published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
The researchers looked at data from the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, a set of telephone surveys coordinated by the Centers for Disease Control and state health departments. Factors that impact screening, according to the researchers include distance to screening facilities, fewer rural residents are covered by health insurance for colorectal screening (the researchers note that this is likely to be improved under the Affordable Care Act) and rural residents are less likely to receive a recommendation for screening from a health care provider because there are fewer primary care providers in rural areas, and those providers are under time constraints.
A new policy brief from the George Washington University school of Public Health and Health Services in Washington, DC finds that low wage workers are especially vulnerable to financial troubles that can result from on-the-job injuries and illnesses.
The researchers calculated that in 2010 1.6 million low wage earners suffered from non-fatal injuries, and 87,857 developed non-fatal occupational health problems such as asthma and found that workers compensation insurance either does not apply or fails to cover many expenses, which can bankrupt families with no financial cushion. According to the brief, insurers cover less than one-fourth of the costs of occupational injuries and illnesses. The rest falls on workers’ families, non-workers-compensation health insurers, and taxpayer-funded programs like Medicaid. The researchers say policy makers need to improve workplace safety and strengthen the safety net for low wage workers.