- Associated Press - Monday, August 1, 2016

Lansing State Journal. July 21, 2016

Tobacco ban good for campus.

Michigan State University will go tobacco free August 15, following a trend of bans already in place at 1,500 college campuses across the nation.

Students, faculty, staff, administrators and guests will be subject to the ban, which is not only a ban on cigarettes - it also includes chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes, vapes and more.

The community should applaud this decision, one that could positively impact public health for the campus, city and beyond.

In a recent LSJ Editorial Board meeting, MSU President Lou Anna Simon said the ban started with a task force in 2013 and has developed from there.

“In Bolder by Design, we had the goal of becoming one of the healthiest campuses in America,” she said. Tobacco use raises a serious concern about health and safety, and that affects students’ desire and ability to learn, she said.

Enforcement will be a challenge. Just like the ban on smoking near buildings, there will be no ‘tobacco police’ being deployed or special initiatives to catch perpetrators and make them pay fines.

But being part of the solution, following the trend at campuses nationwide - including the University of Michigan and several other Big Ten universities - makes a clear statement about tobacco that will hopefully act as a deterrent.

The MSU ban does go further than some others; the need to ban devices, such as e-cigarettes, is a new problem that pre-dates other campus policies.

And the MSU ban includes use of tobacco while in your personal vehicle on MSU property.

Ongoing communication will be key; while those who work and live will know about it, visitors to campus - including football fans at tailgates - may be unaware.

This is an opportunity for MSU stakeholders to lead the discussion and work to show the true purpose of the ban: make a positive impact on public health.

Education is available for those who wish to learn more about the negative effects of tobacco in its many forms, and free cessation resources can be found online. Use them.

Information about the ban, a timeline of how it developed and resources for education and cessation can be found at tobaccofree.msu.edu.

This a significant step in the right direction for the health and safety of the campus community, and for the fight against tobacco use.

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Times Herald (Port Huron). July 21, 2016

The evidence is like something from a Stephen King novel. A plague is sweeping across our country and through our communities. Everyone agrees it is a horrible thing and many people and groups are working desperately to stop it.

A few people, though, are abetting the disease - because the fight against it, like many life and death battles, is making too much noise.

The disease is obesity and the numbers and the effects are scarier than anything the master of the macabre could have written. A third of St. Clair County adults are obese - not overweight, obese. Something like 15 percent of St. Clair County children are obese - not overweight, obese.

The numbers here are similar to the stats for the state of Michigan, where one in 10 adults suffers from obesity-related diabetes and one in three has obesity-related hypertension. Add in the other diseases linked to obesity - cancer, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, the list goes on - and other costs and the annual bill to Michigan’s economy is about $7 billion a year.

The precise causes of the obesity epidemic here and elsewhere are manifold and complex, and range from federal subsidies of high-calorie crops to too much time spent in front of TV, smart phone and computer screens.

Mainly, it’s that we eat too much and exercise too little.

So when a group of teenagers comes together and works with government and non-government groups to find a way to get their peers exercising more, we think that is sort of heroic.

Owen Jones, McKenna Currah, Delaney Barr, Hunter Austin and Nate Wilson, all students at Port Huron Northern High School at the time, went to a grant-writing workshop. When they finished, they applied their new skills to secure $10,000 in funding from the Youth Voice Grant of Southeast Michigan Community Foundation and the Youth Advisory Council of the St. Clair County Community Foundation to rebuild the all-but-useless basketball court at Port Huron’s Palmer Park.

Unbelievably, instead of getting an award, they are getting a slap in the face from critics who now complain that people are playing in Palmer Park. We’re willing to call it playing, because that’s what parks are for, if it gets more kids and adults out exercising in the fresh air.

Yes, it may make a little noise. It sounds like victory to us.

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Traverse City Record-Eagle. July 22, 2016

Telemedicine may help life in far-flung places.

There are countless benefits to living in Michigan’s far-flung rural reaches - peace and quiet abound, bountiful natural resources provide ample recreation opportunities and neighbors, well, are more neighborly.

But there is one distinct drawback to life at the tip of the mitt. Access to healthcare, particularly specialists, isn’t exactly at our fingertips. In fact, many northern Michigan residents must drive 30 minutes or more for the simplest of care and travel hours away to see specialists.

A University of Nebraska study published in 2014 found that people living in rural areas on average live three fewer years than those living in urban areas. The researchers pointed to major chronic illnesses combined with less access to health care as factors contributing to the discrepancy.

That’s why a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help Munson Healthcare expand its telemedicine reach in the region is so important. That $400,000 will mean improved access to healthcare in the area’s most far-flung clinics. Certainly there is no substitute for an in-person visit with a doctor, but advances in technology have allowed health professionals to redefine the idea of face-to-face care.

The grant will help Munson purchase and install internet-connected equipment, including live video conferencing gear with high-resolution cameras and web-connected instruments. The system will allow a doctor, with the help of an on-the-ground nurse or other health professional, to conduct exams and determine treatment from afar when distance, weather or mobility otherwise would prevent a patient from accessing medical services.

“What we’re looking to do is expand our connection with specialty clinics, like oncology or infectious diseases, and get care out to outlying areas to make it easier for patients to access specialists,” said Peter Marinoff, president of Munson Healthcare’s Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital in Frankfort.

The grant will especially help in areas where small clinics provide basic care, but patients are required to travel for more specialty services. Marinoff pointed to Beaver Island as one example where weather and geography create barriers to patients receiving care. Telemedicine likely will have its greatest impact in those areas.

Expanding telemedicine programs is an essential step toward health care equality in northern Michigan.

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The Detroit News. July 21, 2016

Primary picks for Legislature from Oakland

The Aug. 2 primary is around the corner, and voters in Oakland County have several contested legislative districts, but the primary challengers in most cases aren’t likely to unseat the incumbents. Only one seat is open. These are two-year terms.

District 27 (Berkley, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge and Royal Oak Township): Republicans Kyle Forrest of Oak Park and Stefan Graziano of Ferndale are running against incumbent Democrat Robert Wittenberg, who is uncontested. Neither GOP candidate returned our questionnaire, nor are they running much of a campaign, so we withhold an endorsement in this race.

District 29 (Auburn Hills, Keego Harbor, Orchard Lake Village, Pontiac and Sylvan Lake): On the Republican side, Peter Trzos of Keego Harbor gets a slight nod over Garren Griffith of Auburn Hills. Trzos believes in limiting government spending and runs a small business called Hemp Well. Democratic incumbent Tim Greimel is not contested and isn’t likely to get unseated by his GOP opponents.

District 37 (Farmington and Farmington Hills): Two candidates are competing in this district but neither Republican candidate returned our questionnaire, so we are withholding an endorsement in this race. Plus these candidates seem unlikely to oust first-term Democratic incumbent Christine Greig, who is uncontested in the primary.

District 38 (Lyon Township, part of Northville, Novi, Novi Township, South Lyon and Walled Lake): First-term GOP incumbent Kathy Crawford of Novi is seeking another term and she should get it. She faces a challenge from Carson Daniel Lauffer of Walled Lake, who is a minister and professor. Two candidates are facing off in the Democratic race. Amy McCusker, of New Hudson, gets our support. She is vice president of the South Lyon Community Schools Board of Education, a political consultant and community services director for Wixom.

District 41 (Clawson and Troy): On the Republican side, incumbent Martin Howrylak of Troy seeks a third term, and since he isn’t facing much of a challenge in Ryan Manier, he is the best choice. Democratic candidate Cyndi Peltonen is uncontested.

District 45 (part of Oakland Charter Township, Rochester and Rochester Hills): Republican incumbent Michael Webber of Rochester Hills is seeking a second term and there’s not much stopping him. He is uncontested in the primary and the two Democrats running against him aren’t likely to oust him. Ted Golden, a dermatologist from Rochester Hills, has run unsuccessfully for office several times, but he’s the better candidate.

District 46 (Addison Township, Brandon Township, part of Oakland Charter Township, Orion Township and Oxford Township): Two Republicans are looking to replace GOP incumbent Brad Jacobsen, who is term-limited. Joe Kent of Lake Orion is a tax accountant and small business consultant and he gets our support. The Democratic primary is uncontested.

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