KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

Viewpoints: A Debate Over Reducing Cigarettes’ Nicotine Levels; Dems Should Resist The Temptation Not To Negotiate On Health Care

A selection of opinions on public health issues from around the country.

USA Today: Cutting Nicotine In Cigarettes Is An Intriguing Idea
Five decades of warnings about the deadly consequences of smoking have helped cut smoking rates in half, but more than 36 million people are still puffing away in America. And if history is any guide, about half of them will die premature deaths, plagued by everything from heart disease to lung cancer. Now Scott Gottlieb, a physician and commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has proposed a radical and intriguing plan to help the remaining smokers kick the habit and prevent more teenagers from getting hooked: Reduce the nicotine in cigarettes to minimally addictive levels. (8/29)

USA Today: Don't Cut Nicotine Levels In Cigarettes
Reducing deaths from smoking is a goal everyone shares, and while lowering nicotine levels in cigarettes sounds like a reasonable idea, it carries huge risks for potentially little reward. Smokers are drawn to cigarettes for the nicotine, but it’s the smoke that kills them. Nicotine doesn’t cause lung cancer, and no real-world evidence suggests that reducing nicotine will lower smoking-related deaths. (Guy Bentley, 8/29)

RealClear Health: Democrats Should Negotiate With The GOP On Health Care
Congressional Democrats may be tempted to think they shouldn’t negotiate with Republicans on health care because, so far, the GOP has shown itself incapable of fulfilling its commitment to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Why rescue Republicans from their failure?” the thinking goes. (James Capretta, 8/30)

WBUR: The Opioid Epidemic Needs A Strategy For Teens
Any forward-thinking national overdose strategy needs to invest heavily early in the life course -- that is, in children and adolescents. To be successful, the strategy must prevent teens from initiating problematic opioid use in the first place, and expand access to evidence-based treatment for teens. (Scott Hadland and Sarah Bagley, 8/29)

Health Affairs Blog: Improving Older Adults’ Health: Creating Solutions With—Not For—Them
With the best of intentions, foundations and nonprofit organizations often design and support programs based on what they think the people they serve need and want. But in the end, they discover they have designed solutions that miss the mark—their programs aren’t used, and they don’t get the outcomes that they expected. So at the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, we wanted to find out what was possible when we created solutions with people, rather than for them. (Katherine McLaughlin and Diane Oyler, 8/29)

Stat: Cancer Is 'Natural.' The Best Treatments For It Aren't
It is human nature to believe that anything that is “all natural” is intrinsically good. That line of thought can lead people astray. The truth is, cancer is all natural. While some are caused by smoking or chemical exposures, most of them are sporadic, meaning they aren’t caused by any lifestyle factor, food, or chemical exposure. Cholesterol, a major cause of heart attacks and strokes, is natural and even necessary — the body requires it to build cell membranes and the protective covering around nerves. HIV, Ebola, and Zika are all caused by naturally occurring viruses. (Suneel D. Kamath, 8/29)

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