FDA Authorizes Sale of E-Cigarettes for the First Time

The FDA has authorized three vaping products – the Vuse Solo Power Unit and two tobacco-flavored replacement cartridges – saying their benefits in helping smokers quit traditional cigarettes outweigh the risks of getting a new generation hooked on nicotine. The approved tobacco-flavored products are less appealing to teens than the fruit-flavored products of rival vaping companies like Juul, but the FDA is focused on providing less harmful alternatives to traditional cigarettes, which play a role in more than 400,000 American deaths per year.

FDA Takes Incremental Approach to Sodium Intake

About 9 in 10 Americans two years or older consume too much sodium and about 70 percent of it comes from pre-made or pre-packaged foods. In an effort to decrease average sodium consumption from 3,400 mg/day to 3,000 mg/day, the FDA is urging food manufacturers, restaurants and food service operators to lower salt levels in their foods. This new target is still far above the agency’s guideline of 2,300 mg/day and the American Heart Association’s 1,500 mg/day recommendation, but studies have shown that even modest reductions in sodium can significantly decrease risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.

Experts Advise Against Aspirin for Preventing Heart Attack or Stroke

For years, doctors have prescribed low doses of aspirin to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke in certain patients. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now discourages this, saying the risk of severe side effects outweighs the possible benefit. Aspirin hinders the formation of artery-blocking blood clots, but regular intake can increase risk for internal bleeding, specifically in the digestive tract and brain. Adults 60 and older who haven’t had a heart attack or stroke should not begin a daily aspirin regimen; adults already taking aspirin should talk to their doctor about whether continuing to do so is right for them.

Congress Proposes Higher Penalties for OSHA Violations

The House Committee on Education and Labor has proposed increasing maximum penalties for OSHA violations. The maximum fine for “willful and repeat” violations would increase from $136,532 to $700,000 and the maximum fine for “failure-to-abate” would go from $13,653 to $70,000. The bill reflects the new administration’s increased focus on labor law enforcement and would create much more serious financial penalties for employers that don’t follow established safety and health procedures.

[Hannah Sabitoni]