TIME tobacco

Has CVS’s Cigarette Ban Reduced Smoking?

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Looking at the impact of the tobacco ban one year later

It’s been one year since CVS stopped selling tobacco in its stores, and the company says the move has resulted in a decline in cigarette purchases over the last year.

The data is preliminary—it’s only been one year—and it deserves to be looked at with plenty of caveats.

By analyzing cigarette pack purchases at a wide variety of seller locations like drug stores, gas stations, and convenience and dollar stores during the eight months following CVS’ tobacco ban, the CVS Research Institute found a 1% drop in cigarette pack sales in the 13 states that have a CVS pharmacy market share of 15% or more.

“One percent may not sound like much but it’s a very substantial amount when you consider the mortality and morbidity associated with tobacco,” says Dr. Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer of CVS Health.

CVS did not stop selling nicotine replacement products, however; in the months following the cigarette ban, they noted a 4% increase in nicotine patch purchases in those same 13 states.

Stanton Glantz, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, says he gives CVS’s progress report a ‘B.’ “My one criticism is that they were not the only thing happening. If you look across these states, there were tax increases for cigarettes going on, some of the states had anti-smoking programs, there was less smoking in movies. CVS doesn’t account for those [other factors],” he says.

Glantz does think it’s fair to say CVS’ actions helped change the social environment around smoking. “You had a major corporation that was making money selling cigarettes saying, ‘We are not going to do this anymore because it’s the wrong thing to do,'” says Glantz. And that—more than simply stopping to sell cigarettes—”was the actual intervention,” Glantz adds. “It was a very large social message that was sent.”

The latest data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that there are around 42 million adult smokers in the U.S. and smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking and over four in 10 adult cigarette smokers say they attempted to quit in the last year.

TIME Research

College Kids Are Smoking Pot Over Cigarettes, Study Says

Medical marijuana on table
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It appears students view marijuana as less dangerous than they did in the past

Daily marijuana use has surpassed daily cigarette use for the first time among college students, a new study shows.

Surveys conducted as part of the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future study revealed that marijuana use among college students is on the rise, with daily or near-daily use being reported by 5.9 percent of students in 2014. That’s the highest rate since 1980, the study authors report. The researchers report that one in every 17 college students is smoking marijuana daily or nearly every day.

“It’s clear that for the past seven or eight years there has been an increase in marijuana use among the nation’s college students,” said study author Lloyd Johnston, a researcher at University of Michigan in a statement. “And this largely parallels an increase we have been seeing among high school seniors.”

Why? The researchers say that the increase could be due to the fact that using marijuana is viewed as less dangerous to young people. Fifty-five percent of young people ages 19 to 22 thought marijuana was dangerous in 2006, but only 35% thought so in 2014.


TIME Environment

Denali is Actually 10 Feet Shorter Than Originally Recorded

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The U.S. has taken a more accurate measurement

The tallest mountain in the United States, Denali, is actually 10 feet shorter than previously recorded.

The new official height for the mountain is 20,310 feet, which is 10 feet lower than its previously recorded elevation of 20,320 feet, according to the United States Geological Survey.

But that doesn’t mean that Denali has shrunk, the agency said on Wednesday. The initial measurement of the Alaskan mountain was taken using 1950s-era technology and today there are better tools to measure elevation. The new measurement is more accurate.

“No place draws more public attention to its exact elevation than the highest peak of a continent. Knowing the height of Denali is precisely 20,310 feet has important value to earth scientists, geographers, airplane pilots, mountaineers and the general public. It is inspiring to think we can measure this magnificent peak with such accuracy,” said Suzette Kimball, USGS acting director in a statement. “This is a feeling everyone can share, whether you happen to be an armchair explorer or an experienced mountain climber.”

The mountain recently made headlines when President Barack Obama announced on Aug. 30 that he was using his executive power to rename Mount McKinley to Denali, which is a native Alaska name it was originally given.

TIME People

You Can Now Read Millions of Wills Online


Wills from the Colonial Era are now available on Ancestry.com

Every wonder what Paul Revere, Eli Witney, and other famous historical figures gave away in their wills? Ancestry.com now has the answer.

A new feature launched by the family history website Ancestry.com allows users to search through digital wills and probate records of over 100 million people, the Associated Press reports. The database contains items from the Colonial era to the start of the 21st century. An entry for Revere shows he set aside $500 in his will for all but one of his grandchildren, who the patriot declared “shall have no part of my estate” except for $1.

Many of the documents are available in courthouses nationwide, but this is the first time wills and probate records have been pulled together on such a large scale.

The database, which has over 170 million documents from all 50 states, will be publicly available starting Wednesday.

TIME medicine

FDA Warns Powdered Caffeine Is Dangerous

Center for Science in the Public Interest

One teaspoon of the powder has around the same caffeine content as 28 cups of coffee

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent warning letters to five pure powdered caffeine distributors arguing the products are dangerous. The agency said it did so to prevent further deaths from powdered caffeine.

In 2014, two young men who were otherwise healthy died after consuming powdered caffeine. The FDA says it sent the companies the warning letters because “these products are dangerous and present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury to consumers,” the agency wrote in a statement.

According to the FDA, there’s a very small difference between a safe amount of pure powdered caffeine and a toxic amount, and it’s “nearly impossible” to measure safe amounts accurately using normal measuring tools. One teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine equals the same amount of caffeine in 28 cups of coffee, so it’s not possible to use a teaspoon to measure out a standard caffeine serving, the FDA says.

The five companies the FDA warned are SPN, LLC (Smartpowders), Purebulk, Inc., Kreativ Health Inc. (Natural Food Supplements), Hard Eight Nutrition, LLC and Bridge City Bulk. Bridge City Bulk founder Jeffrey Stratton told the New York Times that the company “immediately stopped selling the material” and had not had any complaints.

The federal agency says it is continuing to monitor the powdered caffeine product market and if it finds violations, it will take action, including seizing the product or preventing producers from manufacturing it.

Read next: 10 Foods That May Trigger a Migraine

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TIME Heart Disease

Here’s How To Find Out Your Real Heart Age

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So much for being "young at heart"

The age on your birth certificate may say one thing, but the age of your heart is likely significantly older.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Tuesday reveals that three out of four Americans have a predicted heart age that’s older than their real age, which means they are at a greater risk for heart issues like attacks and strokes.

A person’s heart age is based on risk factors like blood pressure levels, whether they smoke and how much they weigh.

(Calculate your heart age here, if you’re between ages 30 and 74.)

In the new study, the researchers analyzed data collected from every state and from the Framingham Heart Study and estimated that about 69 million U.S. adults had a heart age older than their actual age. For men, the average heart age was about eight years older than their chronological age; for women, their hearts were an average of five years older than their real age.

MORE: This is the Worst Type of Fat for Your Heart

The researchers found some notable demographic differences. Heart age was highest among black men and women: black men had hearts three to four years older than white and Hispanic men, while black women had hearts five to seven years older than white and Hispanic women. Southern adults also had notably higher heart ages overall.

In the report, the study authors argue that heart age is a simple way to convey heart disease risk to their patients—one that might motivate Americans to adopt heart-protective lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, eating better or exercising more often.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Foods That Taste Better in September Than They Will All Year

Here's what should be on your grocery list this month

Never know what’s growing now? Let’s take it one month at a time, with TIME‘s Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year.

As summer draws to a close, you might think your best days of produce are behind you. But there are plenty of fruits and vegetables to fall for in September. We asked Joan Casanova, spokesperson for Bonnie Plants, what early-fall items are worth watching.

Swiss chard: This deep green veggie with colorful stems means it’s both beautiful and nutritious, says Casanova. Swiss chard is one vegetable that tolerates both cool temperatures and the heat, so you will see tasty varieties in September.

Rutabaga: A fall favorite, this root vegetable can be chunked or mashed, similar to potatoes. “It ripens best in cool autumn weather, taking on its characteristic mild, rich flavor after fall frosts descend on the garden,” says Casanova.

Lettuce: While lettuce is known for growing fast in full sun, Casanova says it is one of few vegetables that also does well in the shade. Home gardeners can grow lettuce in a small space, too.

Turnip leaves: These greens are extremely easy to grow in the fall, when nights become longer and cooler turnip greens get crisper and sweeter, says Casanova.

Leeks: Leeks are sweet, mild and gentle on the digestive system, Casanova says. They don’t produce bulbs like onions do, but they “stash their flavor in thick, juicy stems that look like huge scallions.”

TIME viral

This Boy Wrote an Adorable Apology Note to the Library for Ripping a Page

He felt bad for other kids who may want to read the book

An 8-year-old boy wrote an adorable apology note to the Toronto Public Library for accidentally ripping a page in an Asterix comic book.

The letter, written by Jackson Dowler, reads: “I am sorry that a page ripped when it fell out of my bed when I fell asleep reading it. It won’t happen again. I’m sorry. From Jackson.”

The library shared the letter on social media, and it had over 4,600 likes on Facebook and over 1,000 shares by Monday evening.

It was the widespread social media fervor over the letter that ultimately identified Dowler as the author of the letter, which was taped to the comic book in the overnight drop box addressed “Library.” One individual touched by Dowler’s letter shipped him some Asterix comics.

“We tried to tape it, but I wrote the note so I could tell the library it was ripped so they could fix it better,” Jackson told PEOPLE. “Other kids who want to read it don’t want to be missing a page. It was my dad’s favorite book and it’s mine too. It’s full of adventure!”


TIME Canada

Canadians Are Cutting $20 Bills in Half to Make Two $10s

Canadian 20 dollar bill
Chris Wattie—Reuters The new Canadian 20 dollar bill made of polymer is displayed at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa on May 2, 2012.

People in Canada are cutting $20 and $20 bills in half and using them as new currency.

According to CBC News, people in Quebec’s Gaspé region are cutting bills like $20 and $10 and using them for half the amount.

They are calling it a new currency by the name, “demi.” Local stores and residents have starting using and accepting them, with half a $20 bill worth $10.

The trend is not illegal, but the Bank of Canada is frowning on the practice.

“The Bank of Canada feels that writing and markings on bank notes or mutilating them [is] inappropriate as they are a symbol of our country and a source of national pride,” Bank of Canada spokeswoman Josianne Ménard said in a statement to CBC News.

[CBC News]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

McDonalds is Making a Big Change to the McMuffin

Egg McMuffin McDonald's
Mike Blake—Reuters An Egg McMuffin meal is pictured at a McDonald's restaurant in Encinitas, Calif. on Aug. 13, 2015.

The McMuffin will soon be made with real butter

McDonald’s is going to make McMuffins with real butter.

Instead of using liquid margarine, CNBC reports that McDonald’s is changing how it makes its biscuits, English muffins and bagels and is transitioning to using the real stuff.

Some stores are already advertising the change.

According to CNBC, one sign at a Manhattan McDonald’s location said: “We’re proud to cook breakfast items on the grill with real butter and we toast our English Muffins, biscuits and bagels with real butter too.”

McDonald’s has not responded to requests for confirmation or comment.

It was unclear how long the chain has been using real butter on its breakfast items.


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