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Bill to regulate e-cigarettes clears California legislative hurdle

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The California State Senate on Thursday passed a bill to regulate electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, sending the measure to the Assembly where a similar bill died earlier this year.

The bill by State Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco, would ban the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vapor cigarettes or vapes, in the workplace, at schools and other places where cigarettes already are forbidden, and would require that they be sold in child-resistant packaging.

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Sale of e-cigarettes to minors already is banned but the bill would require businesses wishing to sell them to obtain a license.

E-cigarettes generally contain nicotine, drawn into the lungs after it is heated in a flavored liquid. The vapor also contains some formaldehyde and other chemicals, according to Leno.

Electronic cigarette makers and distributors have said the devices are a safer alternative to smoking. But Leno, whose bill is backed by the American Cancer Society and numerous other public health organizations, said they are highly addictive and can serve as a gateway to tobacco dependence and regular smoking.

Earlier this year, California’s former top public health official said electronic cigarettes can lead to nicotine poisoning among children and threaten the state’s decades-long effort to reduce tobacco use.

According to a report by Dr. Ron Chapman, the former director of the California Department of Public Health, 7.6 percent of California’s young adults aged 18-29 used electronic cigarettes in 2013, up from 2.3 percent in 2012. Among children under the age of five, incidents of nicotine poisoning rose from seven in 2012 to 154 in 2014, the report said.

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Leno’s bill passed the Senate earlier this year but died in a committee of the State Assembly in July. He re-introduced it as part of a special session held this summer on public health issues.

The bill, which passed 25-12 in the Senate on Thursday, must still get through the Assembly health committee, but its membership is different for the special session. Leno has said he expects it to have a better chance of passing this time around.


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‘Friday Night Massacre’ at US Postal Service as Postmaster General—a major Trump donor—ousts top officials

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Government watchdogs, Democratic lawmakers, and pro-democracy advocates declared it a "Friday Night Massacre" for the U.S. Postal Service after news broke in a classic end-of-the-week dump that Louis DeJoy—a major GOP donor to President Donald Trump and the recently appointed Postmaster General—had issued a sweeping overhaul of the agency, including the ouster of top executives from key posts and the reshuffling of more than two dozen other officials and operational managers.

According to the Washington Post:

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Virus outbreak in Houston-area nursing home kills 17

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A novel coronavirus outbreak at a Missouri City nursing home, outside of Houston, has killed 17 residents, according to data from state officials.

City officials issued a press release this week raising alarm over 19 deaths that they said occurred at the Paradigm at First Colony Nursing Home but nursing home officials told The Texas Tribune that the number is incorrect and declined to provide the correct number.

The city also reported that the facility has 24 infected staff members and the nursing home reported 11 currently infected residents who are in stable condition.

“This harrowing development speaks to the severity of this pandemic and how everyone needs to take it even more seriously,” said Missouri City Mayor Yolanda Ford of the outbreak in a Wednesday press release.

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‘Gullible’ Trump administration paid up to $500 million too much for these ventilators: investigators

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Citing “evidence of fraud, waste, and abuse,” a congressional subcommittee investigating the federal government’s purchase of $646.7 million worth of Philips ventilators has asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to launch its own investigation of the deal.

The House subcommittee launched its review after ProPublica stories in March and April showed how a U.S. subsidiary of Royal Philips N.V. received millions in federal tax dollars years ago to develop a low-cost ventilator for pandemics but didn’t deliver it. Instead, as the coronavirus began spreading around the globe and U.S. hospitals were desperate for more, Philips was selling commercial versions of the government-funded ventilator overseas from its Pennsylvania factory. Then in April, despite having not fulfilled the initial contract, the Dutch company struck a much more lucrative deal to sell the government 43,000 ventilators for four times the price.

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