Hawaii Is Considering Banning the Sale of Cigarettes Entirely

iStock.com/lightfiction
iStock.com/lightfiction

Residents of Hawaii who smoke may want to stock up on their favorite brand of cigarettes—or consider quitting cold turkey. A lawmaker from the state of Hawaii's Big Island has proposed age restrictions that would essentially ban the sale of cigarettes by 2024.

According to the Associated Press, Democratic state Representative Richard Creagan wants to increase the minimum age for buying cigarettes to 30 in 2020. The age would increase incrementally to 40 in 2021, 50 in 2022, 60 in 2023, and 100 in 2024. So unless the state has a large contingent of smoking centenarians, it seems unlikely that stores would continue to carry packs of Camels or Marlboro Lights.

However, the ban wouldn't cover all tobacco products. Cigars, chewing tobacco, and e-cigarette products (many of which contain nicotine) would remain exempt and therefore available.

If passed, Hawaii would be the first state to ban the sale of cigarettes in recent history. The state already has some of the country's strictest cigarette laws, including comparatively high tax rates ($3.20 in taxes per pack) and a minimum smoking age of 21 [PDF]. Creagan, who is also a physician and former smoker, says these measures aren't enough to deter smokers, though. "It's slowing it down, but it's not stopping the problem," he told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

He said the measure is ultimately designed to protect the health of Hawaii's residents. "We, as legislators, have a duty to do things to save people's lives. If we don't ban cigarettes, we are killing people," he said. The state's House Health Committee is expected to hear the bill this week.

Although this marks a shift in the national discussion surrounding cigarettes, the measure has historic precedent. Fifteen states banned the sale of cigarettes from 1890 to 1927, partially overlapping with Prohibition (from 1920 to 1933). The cigarette ban was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, but industry pressure and the appeal of tax revenue put an end to those bans.

[h/t KCTV News]

These ASMR-Ready Headphones Promise to Lull You to Sleep

AcousticSheep
AcousticSheep

What do hushed whispers, gently tapping fingernails, and Bob Ross’s voice have in common? They’re all examples of triggers that may cause what’s known as an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), or, as Dictionary.com succinctly explains it, a “calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation” that can be triggered by soothing stimuli. ASMR has recently been recognized as an effective relaxation technique for those looking to calm their nerves; now, ASMR enthusiasts and novices alike can experience it in the form of a sleep-ready headband.

Upon first glance, SleepPhones: ASMR Edition may look like just a fabric headband, but the device actually features flat speakers tucked into soft, stretchy, eco-friendly material. Unlike regular headphones, SleepPhones can be worn comfortably to bed, even if you sleep on your side, and they come preloaded with content designed to help you relax. They feature eight hours of built-in ASMR content by 16 different ASMR artists (or ASMRtists), including but not limited to tracks with rhythmic tapping and "peaceful Italian whisperings."

A close-up of the SleepPhones speaker technology
AcousticSheep

The speaker components of SleepPhones
AcousticSheep

Using SleepPhones is designed to be a stress-free experience. The speakers have the ability to play for 20 ad-free hours with a mere three-hour charging time in between. There are also zero cords involved, meaning you won’t get all tangled up as you lie down or if you have a tendency to toss and turn at night. The small button located in the back of the headband allows you to start, pause, or skip tracks and control the volume.

For people looking for ways to relax beyond yoga and meditation, ASMR may be the way to go. One study observed that subjects watching ASMR videos not only reported feeling that aforementioned pleasant tingling, but were also found to have reduced heart rates.

You can get a pair of your own SleepPhones on Kickstarter with a pledge of $75 or more. They come in three different sizes with seven colors from which to choose.

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FDA Is Warning Against Fecal Transplants After Person Dies From E. Coli Infection

iStock/artisteer
iStock/artisteer

Though it may sound gross, the benefits of a fecal transplant—taking the feces of one person and introducing it into the gastrointestinal tract of another—are promising for those suffering from a Clostridioides difficile infection. The tenacious infections are often the result of sustained antibiotic use, which can kill the patient's "good" gut bacteria and allow C. difficile to proliferate. As the theory goes, the “good” bacteria in feces transplanted from a healthy person may restore the infected person's microbiome and alleviate symptoms like life-threatening diarrhea.

The treatment, which is not FDA-approved, is risky. The FDA has announced that two people involved in a clinical trial recently received fecal transplants that contained drug-resistant bacteria, with one of them dying as a result.

According to The New York Times, the FDA did not offer details of either case, relating only that both patients were immunocompromised, which is one of the contraindications of receiving the transplant. The stool they received was believed to contain antibiotic-resistant E. coli bacteria.

As a result, the FDA is suspending a number of fecal transplant clinical trials until it can be determined how stool is being tested for contamination with potentially deadly bacteria and why the E. coli was not detected. The stool that infected both patients came from the same donor.

Fecal transplants are considered an experimental treatment for C. difficile infection when first-line treatment like antibiotics are ineffective. The fecal transplant is usually introduced to the digestive tract via pills or an infusion.

[h/t The New York Times]

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