Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Health Laws

The North Carolina smoking ban was only one of many public health laws that took effect across the country on Jan. 1.  Some other examples:

- California became the first state to ban restaurants' use of trans fats in cooking. Initially, restaurants won’t be able to use “oil, shortening, or margarine containing specified trans fats.” In 2011, the bill will expand to prohibit restaurants from serving “any food containing artificial trans fat.” Certain exceptions will apply, and some school cafeterias will be exempt.

- A ban on texting while driving took effect in New Hampshire, Oregon and Illinois. That brings the number of states that ban the practice to 19, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

- Illinois Cancer laws.. A new Illinois law requires health class curricula to include information on cancer risk factors, prevention and early detection. 2010 also brings new cancer screenings as a component of Illinois school sports physicals.

- Retailers may only sell cigarettes that extinguish themselves if left unattended, thanks to laws passed in  Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Fire-safe cigarette laws will also take effect in Mississippi, Ohio and South Dakota by the first week of 2011. Wyoming is the only state that hasn't passed such a law, according to the Coalition for Fire-Safe Cigarettes.

- A new Arkansas law requires health insurance policies to cover prostate cancer screenings and treatment for men at least 40 years old.

- A new law in Maryland requires the provision of substance abuse benefits to people under the Maryland Medical Assistance Program.

- In Texas, teens who use tanning beds must be accompanied by an adult or bring signed permission slips, while new college students who want to live on campus must prove they have been vaccinated against bacterial meningitis.

- A Tennessee law seeks to help prevent the accidental or intentional poisoning of people, pets and other animals as a result of ingesting antifreeze or engine coolants. The law requires manufacturers to add a bittering agent. Without it, antifreeze has a sweet aroma and flavor.Ethylene glycol, a key ingredient in antifreeze, is toxic to humans and animals.

- Illinois health care institutions are banned from flushing medications into public sewer systems or septic systems, except those in intravenous fluids, syringes and transdermal patches. designed to reduce the amount of prescription medications found in local water supplies.

- Wisconsin will start work on an environmental quality  protocol for schools.  A new law requires the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to convene a task force to develop a model management plan for indoor environmental quality in public and private schools.

- Oregon will require children under age 16 to wear a seat belt on any ATV or vehicle on public property, and will increase the fine for people riding a motorcycle without a helmet to $720.

• In Texas, smoke detectors will need to be able to alert a hearing-impaired person if requested by a tenant. 


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