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PHI in the News

Now that recreational marijuana is legal, what should advertising look like?

September 18, 2018 | Michell Eloy | KCRW

Photo by Michell Eloy/KCRWIn California and other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, most TV and radio ads for cannabis are not an option, since it is still illegal at the federal level, and online platforms like Facebook and Google also don't allow the ads. This story by KCRW in Los Angeles examines the current temporary regulations in California that seek to further limit children's exposure to cannabis marketing—and whether those regulations should be taken a step further.

The piece includes an interview with PHI's Dr. Lynn Silver, who leads our Getting it Right from the Start: Local Regulation of Recreational Marijuana project, who says she wants to see even stronger regulations in California to protect young people, namely by adding a warning to any billboard, poster or product that a child might see.  more

Hospitals Take Aim at ‘The Greatest Health Threat of the 21st Century’

September 14, 2018 | Justine Calma | Grist

One of the larger themes at this week’s massive Global Climate Action Summit taking place in San Francisco is the relationship between climate change and human health. Healthcare institutions representing more than 17,000 hospitals and clinics across more than two dozen countries agreed to slash four coal plants’ worth of carbon emissions from their operations each year. The initiative, led by the Global Climate and Health Forum, calls climate change “the greatest health threat of the 21st century. ” PHI and the U.S. Climate and Health Alliance, for which PHI is the secretariat, were among the host organizations for the forum.

“Our biggest hope is that the summit will serve to mobilize people in the health sector around the world to really step up and take action,” says Linda Rudolph, who heads PHI’s Center for Climate Change and Health and the U.S. Climate and Health Alliance.  more

Sacramento Is Making Urban Agriculture a Way of Life

September 12, 2018 | Heather Gehlert | Civil Eats

Photo courtesy of BMSG.As the food movement gains strength and farm-to-fork practices become increasingly popular, many cities across the United States are investing in urban agriculture, both to attract tourists and to improve community health. Yet few places have been more vocal in their efforts to expand urban agriculture as Sacramento, California. Heather Gehlert from PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group explains in this Civil Eats article that instead of focusing primarily on food, advocates there are working to highlight the people who grow and sell it—and to make sure that everyone benefits equally from the area’s bounty.   more

Is it True That Weed Addiction Is Becoming a Problem?

August 21, 2018 | Elizabeth King | Brit + Co

In recent years there has been a rise in the total number of adults using marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes, and an increasing number of states have legalized use in some form or another. This Brit + Co article exploring the evidence on cannabis addiction cites a 2017 study from PHI's Alcohol Research Group, which found that recent increases in use among American adults were not specifically associated with the legalization of medicinal or recreational marijuana.

“Our findings suggest that US society has become more tolerant and accepting of marijuana use and less concerned with risks, which has led to broader use,” said Dr. William Kerr, ARG's senior scientist.  more

Short of breath? Chest pains? Smoke-related health impacts from Holy fire felt across Southern California

August 10, 2018 | Laylan Connelly and Martin Wisckol | The Orange County Register

In Southern California the Holy fire has burned more than 18,000 acres, leaving unhealthy levels of smoke lingering in the air. Wildfire smoke can travel long distances and is laden with particulate matter, which triggers asthma and worsens lung and heart disease, says Dr. Linda Rudolph, director of PHI's Center for Climate Change and Health, in this Orange County Register article.  more

Pollution Makes the Personal Political

August 08, 2018 | Ada Statler | Sierra Magazine

At the age of 19, Jose Gurrola ran for city council in his hometown of Arvin, CA, and won. Gurrola, who has had asthma for as long as he can remember, wanted a lot of things for the city, but more than anything, he wanted to clean up the air in an area surrounded by agricultural operations and oil production. This profile of Gurrola's efforts cites a recent report from PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program finding that preterm births attributable just to particulate matter pollution cost Kern County, where Arvin is located, over $45 million annually.  more

To understand Philly’s gun violence crisis, in-depth reporting is needed

August 03, 2018 | Jessica Beard and Jim MacMillan | The Philadelphia Inquirer

This op-ed from a trauma surgeon who cares for people injured by guns every day and a journalist with decades of experience reporting on gun violence argues that stories about gun violence are far more complex than the cursory news reports they often receive. In recent years, gun violence has rightly been recognized as a public health problem. The authors highlight the role journalists can play as part of the solution, referencing a recent study from PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group which found that "not enough people recognize that violence is preventable, in large part because of the public discourse around gun violence, which portrays it as extreme and inevitable."   more

Learn Before You Leap: The Catalytic Power of a Learning Network

July 27, 2018 | David Ehrlichman & David Sawyer | Stanford Social Innovation Review

There are currently nearly two-dozen multipurpose prevention technology (MPT) products in development—items that simultaneously deliver varied combinations of contraception, HIV prevention, and prevention of other STIs—and MPTs have become widely recognized as a new class of comprehensive prevention products in sexual and reproductive health.

The authors of this deep dive into social sector learning networks say the MPT field could never have advanced this far, or this fast, without the catalytic role of the Initiative for MPTs and the active role that PHI's CAMI Health has played as the network’s secretariat to coordinate activities in the field.  more

“Sin” taxes are less efficient than they look—but they do help improve public health

July 26, 2018 | The Economist

This article on so-called sin taxes—levies on socially harmful products and practices—includes a look at soda taxes, and references PHI's joint study last year with researchers at the University of North Carolina which found that the city of Berkeley's soda tax is working as intended. The study found that after the tax was implemented, sales of sugary drinks fell by almost 10%, while sales of bottled water and other healthier beverages rose.  more

Health Systems Take on Role as Anchor Institutions, Enhance Community Development

July 25, 2018 | Jaime Rosenberg | American Journal of Managed Care

On a recent webcast discussing health systems' role as anchor institutions working to improve the physical, social and economic environments in their region, PHI's Douglas Jutte, executive director of the Build Healthy Places Network, underscored the burden of avoidable chronic disease: "We spend about $3.5 trillion per year on medical care, and what’s worth remembering is that 85% of that is spent on chronic disease.”  more

Photo: Getty/AndreyPopov

CMS physician payment proposal nudges open the door for telehealth

July 16, 2018 | Evan Sweeney | Fierce Healthcare

Telehealth advocates are celebrating a proposed rule released last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that would reimburse physicians for certain virtual interactions, a move that some see as a significant first step in overcoming telehealth payment obstacles and paving the way for using telehealth services for substance abuse treatment. Mei Wa Kwong, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy, says the agency had to work around some legal payment restrictions that limit telehealth reimbursements to rural facilities.  more

Are state Medicaid policies helping or hurting telehealth? 7 stats

July 11, 2018 | Julie Spitzer | Becker's Hospital Review

Laws governing reimbursement often stand in the way of telehealth adoption — either hospitals don't want to offer it over confusion about getting paid or patients don't want to use it over confusion as to who pays. However, most state Medicaid programs — 49 states and the District of Columbia — reimburse live video telehealth, according to data from PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy.  more

How can City Hall improve our health? A new push in Pinellas hopes to show the way.

July 11, 2018 | Justine Griffin | Tampa Bay Times

The city of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently announced a Health In All Policies project aimed at getting local officials to think more deeply about the impact of their decisions, large and small, on residents’ well-being. PHI is a national and international leader in the Health in All Policies (HiAP) movement, as this article notes. Our members on the California HiAP Task Force provide consultations on the approach for local communities across the country.  more

Preparing for the health impacts of a fiery future

July 10, 2018 | Linda Rudolph, MD, MPH | The San Bernardino Sun

More than a dozen large wildfires are currently burning in the western U.S., including a blaze in Colorado that has torched more than 23,000 acres. Welcome to the new normal, says Dr. Linda Rudolph, director of PHI's Center for Climate Change and Health. On a warming planet, we are seeing more of the hot, dry conditions that have turned the American West into a tinderbox.

Given the huge public health impacts of wildfires, especially on low-income and marginalized populations, here are some actions we can take to protect our communities.  more

In Public Health, It's Hard To Prove Benefits Of Alcohol — But Easy To Show Its Harms

July 09, 2018 | Christina Mair | WBUR

While the rising opioid epidemic has rightfully received considerable attention in the past five years, the author of this commentary says it is important to remember that alcohol is involved in a greater number of deaths and physical and social problems. The article references the disparities work of scientists Nina Mulia and Sarah Zemore at PHI's Alcohol Research Group, who have found that African-American and Hispanic drinkers in the U.S. experience a greater number of social consequences of drinking than white Americans.  more

The doctor will see you now – online. Virtual house calls offered widely in Sacramento region

June 22, 2018 | Hannah Holzer | The Sacramento Bee

House calls are making a comeback, with a virtual twist: Three of the Sacramento region's four major health providers – Kaiser Permanente, UC Davis Health and now Sutter Health – offer video visits with primary care providers. Telemedicine technology has been adopted rapidly, and health care companies are seeing a growing number of people who are not only willing, but demanding, to consult medical professionals online.

Mei Wa Kwong, head of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy, tells The Sacramento Bee that patients don't have to pay for things like parking if they're doing a home visit or additional fuel costs if they're consulting from a rural hospital. They are also able to take less time away from work, and they are likely to see a provider sooner than if they waited for a face-to-face appointment, meaning they are diagnosed earlier and can be served by less-costly treatments.  more

Officials Say Opioid Overdose Deaths Dropped By Half

June 20, 2018 | Bay City News Service | SFGate

Officials with the Alameda County Health Care Services Agency said recently-released data reveal that the number of opioid overdose deaths decreased by nearly 50 percent in recent years. Officials said they are working with multiple partners to reduce and prevent the misuse of opioids and associated mortality rates through a coalition that's part of the California Opioid Safety Network at the Public Health Institute.  more

Women Around the World Lack Access to Comprehensive Contraception—This is the Solution

June 08, 2018 | Bethany Young Holt | Ms. Magazine

From a young woman in Ethiopia named Gelete to her own college-age daughter, PHI's Bethany Young Holt knows that women across the globe need comprehensive methods they can control and use discreetly to prevent unintended pregnancy and STIs like HIV. With the growing STI epidemic in many parts of the world, including in states like California, Young Holt explains in this article for Ms. Magazine why she has been fighting alongside other researchers for nearly three decades to help bring multipurpose prevention technologies—products that deliver varied combinations of HIV prevention, prevention of other STIs and contraception—to market.  more

New study says more than one alcoholic drink a day could shorten your life. Now, what?

May 30, 2018 | Gabriella Boston | The Washington Post

A large study recently published in the journal Lancet says the heart-healthy benefits from moderate drinking are slight, while the risk of stroke and other fatal heart conditions are significant. PHI's William Kerr, senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group, weighs in on the study in this Washington Post article, saying the study can prompt a useful discussion about individual behavior and about drinking guidelines.  more

California could make food more affordable and help farmers; here’s how

May 21, 2018 | Michael Dimock & Eli Zigas | The San Francisco Chronicle

California could lead efforts to make healthy food more affordable for low-income people while also supporting its farmers by renewing and expanding its nutrition incentive program, say PHI's Michael Dimock, president of Roots of Change, and SPUR Food and Agriculture Policy Director Eli Zigas in this San Francisco Chronicle op-ed.

They argue that the nutrition incentive programs have a proven track record of improving nutrition, fighting hunger and supporting farmers—and strengthening them would serve as a stark counterpoint to the federal Farm Bill favored by House Republican leadership in Washington, which would cut millions of Americans from SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps).  more

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