Walmart is raising the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, will increase the minimum age to buy tobacco products, marking a big moment in the fight against teen nicotine addiction.

The company announced Wednesday it will stop selling tobacco or e-cigarettes products to anyone under the age of 21 in the United States. The changes will take effect July 1 at all American Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.
The company will stop selling sweet-flavored e-cigarettes, which have become popular among teenagers.
The policy shift comes after Walmart (WMT) received a letter from the US Food and Drug Administration for not fully prohibiting kids under 18 from buying tobacco products at its stores. The FDA conducted roughly 13,000 compliance checks since 2010 and said Walmart passed only 93% of them.
“While we have implemented a robust compliance program, we are not satisfied with falling short of our company-wide goal of 100% compliance,” the company wrote. “Even a single sale to a minor is one too many, and we take seriously our responsibilities in this regard.”

Ohio Marijuana Medical Card to give away 25 free evaluations per month

Ohio Medical Marijuana Card, the state’s largest provider of medical marijuana evaluations, announced Wednesday that it’s giving away 25 free medical marijuana evaluations each month in an effort to help ease the financial burden for patients who need help offsetting costs of medical marijuana.

Due to limited availability, medical marijuana costs throughout Ohio are significantly higher than neighboring states.

Ohio Medical Marijuana allows patients to pay for their appointments with installment payments, in addition to extending a $100 discount to veterans.

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What to know about CBD: Is it even legal in Ohio?

Stephanie Baldwin of Lockland is a big believer in the CBD oil she puts under her tongue twice a day.

“Let it sit there for a couple minutes, and then you can drink or swallow it or whatever,” Baldwin said, describing how she uses CBD, or cannabidiol.

Baldwin tried CBD after years battling ulcerative colitis with prescription drugs.

“My body was just crying out for help,” she said. “I just prayed for an answer and somehow CBD came across my path.”

Raised in a conservative Christian home, Baldwin said the fact CBD comes from a cousin of the marijuana plant called hemp, which does not produce a high, made no difference the first time she decided to give it a try at work.

“Within minutes I was experiencing more relief than I had in probably 20 years,” Baldwin said. “It was like this sense of calm and just, my gut calmed down. My muscles calmed down, and I was just like, ‘Oh my goodness. Wow. This is it. This is it.”

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Addiction Among Older Adults Poses Complex Challenge

Chronic pain and social isolation can complicate efforts to curb substance misuse in America’s older population.

As doctors, public health officials and community-based groups work to curb the nation’s drug crisis, concerns are rising that older adults may be falling through the cracks.

Although rates of alcohol and drug abuse have generally been lower among older adults, the number of people 50 and older who have a substance use disorder is projected to reach 5.7 million by 2020. Older adults also often face problems such as chronic pain, social isolation and mobility issues that can make it harder to identify and treat addiction.

Prescription drugs are a major driver of substance misuse among older adults, but these patients are often reluctant to change their habits or medication regimens, Kate Lufkin, a cognitive behavioral therapist with Ochsner Health System, said this week at the Aging in America Conference in New Orleans.

“Older adults have a combination of painful diagnoses, social changes, psychological considerations and physical limitations,” Lufkin said. “They also process alcohol and medications differently. … Mood-altering substances in older adults can mimic dementia, diabetes and depression.”

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FDA threatens to fine Walmart, Kroger and convenience store chains for selling tobacco to minors

The Federal Drug Administration threatened to fine Walmart, Kroger, Family Dollar and more than a half dozen convenience store and gas station chains for illegally selling tobacco products to minors.

The agency cited high rates of violations in nearly identical letters sent to retailers last week. In addition to the retailers above, 7-Eleven, BP, Casey’s General Stores, Chevron, Citgo, Exxon, Marathon Petroleum, Shell and Sunoco all received the letters, which were dated April 5 and posted to the agency’s website Friday. The FDA gave them 30 days to submit a detailed plan describing how they will mitigate illegal tobacco sales to minors.

None of the companies were immediately available for comment.

“Retailers in particular are on the front lines of these efforts to reduce the health consequences of tobacco use and nicotine dependence,” the FDA said. “Because tobacco use is almost always initiated and established during adolescence, early intervention — including making sure tobacco products aren’t being sold to minors —is critical.”

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Drug Tests Show Marijuana Use at 14-Year High Among Workers

More American workers are testing positive for marijuana, a new report finds, as lawmakers in New Jersey and Illinois push to join nearly a dozen more states where recreational use of the drug is now legal.

The number of workers and job applicants who tested positive for marijuana climbed 10% last year to 2.3%, according to an analysis of 10 million urine, saliva and hair samples by Quest Diagnostics Inc., one the nation’s largest drug-testing laboratories.

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Herbal drug kratom linked to almost 100 overdose deaths, CDC says

An over-the-counter herbal drug has been linked to more deaths in recent years, federal health officials say.

Kratom – a plant grown naturally in Southeast Asia and often sold in powder capsules – was a cause of death in 91 overdoses in the United States from July 2016 to December 2017, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In seven of the overdoses, kratom was the only substance to test positive in a toxicology report, though the CDC says other substances couldn’t be ruled out.

Health officials looked at numbers from state overdose reporting databases and found that of the 27,338 overdose deaths in that time period, 152 of the deceased people tested positive for kratom, even if it was not a cause of death.

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Senators’ scathing letter to Juul demands answers about tactics targeting youth, ties to Big Tobacco

Leading e-cigarette company Juul Labs is under the microscope again, with 11 senators demanding answers from the company at the center of the youth vaping “epidemic” whose business practices have been shrouded in “immense secrecy,” the senators said in a letter to Juul on Monday.

They are requesting data, plans and other information from Juul related to its popularity among youth and its relationship with tobacco giant Altria, which invested nearly $13 billion in the company late last year.

The Altria deal signaled that Juul is “more interested in padding its profit margins than protecting our nation’s children,” says the letter, signed by Democrats including Dick Durbin of Illinois, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Anti-vaping advocates push to raise minimum age for nicotine: “The addicted mind justifies some crazy things”

“The addicted mind justifies some crazy things,” said Matt Murphy. The 19-year-old got hooked on nicotine in high school, and what began as experimentation with vaping turned into an addiction.

“That snowballed into me having a neurochemical dependency on it without me even knowing,” he said.

His addiction followed him to college: “I would be studying in the library and I would have to bike back to the dorm, like, every 20 minutes.”

E-cigarette use among middle and high school students is rising sharply. In 2018 nearly five percent (or one in 20) middle school students reported trying e-cigarettes within the last 30 days. That’s up from less than 1 percent in 2011.

Among high schoolers, that number jumped from 1.5% in 2011 to more than 20% in 2018.

And that kind of jump has doctors and health officials concerned.

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Bipartisan Bill Would Give States Control Over Marijuana Laws

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has reintroduced a bill that would shield people complying with state marijuana laws from federal intervention, effectively leaving it up to states to decide their own marijuana laws and regulations.

Presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass, and Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., reintroduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, or STATES Act, in the Senate on Thursday. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and David Joyce, R-Ohio, put the measure forth in the House. A nearly identical bill was introduced in both chambers in 2018 but stalled.

Trump has previously expressed support for the bill. The Senate version of the measure has a bipartisan list of high-profile cosponsors, including Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski, from Alaska, and Rand Paul, from Kentucky, as well as Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, from Minnesota. The House bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Tom Graves, R-Ga., among others.

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