Thursday, October 25, 2012

Smokeless Tobacco's Frightening Disguise

(Salt Lake City) - Halloween is coming, and while parents are closely watching their children’s sugar intake, they should be watching for something even more dangerous year-round: smokeless tobacco products masquerading as candy.

New product packaging designs and a host of candy-like flavors—like chocolate, grape, and peach—make it easy to mistake smokeless tobacco products for gum, mints, and candy.

“Attractive packaging and added flavors are marketing tactics used to gloss over tobacco’s harmful effects and make it more appealing,” said Amy Oliver, Marketing Manager for the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP). “These products are designed to recruit new users from our local youth.”

Preliminary results from a survey conducted at youth events indicate teens have a positive view of smokeless tobacco products based on how they’re packaged. Results show 73% of respondents aged 18 and younger did not believe the packages contained tobacco and 40 percent said they would consume them.

“Education is key to helping youth stay tobacco-free,” said Oliver. “The best way to protect your children is to help them make good choices by avoiding all tobacco products.”

Smokeless tobacco contains more nicotine than cigarettes and poses a serious risk for cancer and other health problems. Quitting tobacco products can bring both immediate and lifelong benefits, like a better sense of taste and smell, better lung function, and a lower risk of cancer.

For information on quitting, call the Utah Tobacco Quit Line at 1.800.QUIT.NOW  or visit Utah QuitNet at
Media Contact:
Amy Oliver
Tobacco Prevention and Control Program
(o) 801-538-6917 (c) 801-783-9067

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Families of Teen Crash Victims Share Their Grief at Memorial

(Salt Lake City, UT)  In 2011, 23 families were devastated to learn that their teenager had been killed in a motor vehicle crash. Today, these families shared their stories to encourage other drivers to use caution on the road.

Erin Worland’s 13-year-old son Collin was killed on November 2, 2011, two weeks after his birthday. Collin was the oldest of five children and was anxious to learn how to drive, get a job, and serve a mission for his church. He was walking to school with a group of friends when he was hit by a 19-year-old driver high on marijuana.

“I heard sirens and ran outside praying,” recalled Worland. “I saw a pair of blue and black shoes in the road and knew it was Collin. I ran over to my precious boy, who was unconscious and lying in a pool of blood. I couldn’t believe it was real. My life, as I knew it, was over.”

This is the fifth year the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) have collected stories of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes. The book will be used by state and local agencies as a prevention tool to help young drivers realize the impact their decisions have on others. The books will also be distributed to high school driver education classes in the state. Since publication of the first book in 2008, the rate of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes has dropped 30%.

“If there is any good that can come from this, I hope it will send a message to young people about the dangers of drugs and the importance of attentive driving,” said Worland. “There are some mistakes that can’t be undone and will forever rob us of what could have been.”

Utah Highway Safety Office data show an increase in the number of teens killed in auto-pedestrian crashes―from one in 2010 to five in 2011. In addition, eight (35%) of the teens killed in 2011 were drivers, nine (39%) were passengers, and one (4%) was a driver of an ATV. Nearly 75% of the victims were male.

UDOH officials point to the fact that only 25% of the teens killed in 2011 were wearing a seat belt. In comparison, 90% of the 18,380 teens who were in a crash last year and survived were wearing a seat belt. Teen drivers were also three times more likely to have a contributing factor, such as speeding, in a fatal crash than drivers of other ages. In addition to speeding, the most common contributing factors in fatal teen-driver crashes in 2011 were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failing to stay in the proper lane, overcorrecting, and driving distracted.

Melanie McElroy’s 19-year-old daughter Kellie was killed when her cousin―and best friend―was speeding and lost control of the car. The vehicle car flipped end over end, landed on its roof, and caught fire. Kellie never made it out of the burning car alive.

“Speeding, reckless driving, texting while driving, DUI… they just simply are not worth the price that has to be paid when a crash occurs as a result,” said McElroy.

“This book shows the ripple effect our driving decisions can have on our families, friends, and communities,” said Jenny Johnson, UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “Talk with your loved ones, friends, and classmates about how these tragedies might have been prevented. Always wear your seat belt and set rules for your car and whenever you ride in someone else’s car.”

To download a copy of the “We Remember Every Day” booklet in English or Spanish, visit  or

Media Contact:
Jenny Johnson
Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569

Friday, October 12, 2012

World Arthritis Day: Move to Improve!

(Salt Lake City) – In 2009, one in every three (34.8%) Utah adults with arthritis was obese. That’s a 16% increase from the 29.9% reported in 2003. According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity prevalence nationwide is 54% higher among adults with arthritis compared to adults without the condition.
“This is an ongoing concern for us,” said Rebecca Castleton, Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Arthritis Program Coordinator. “Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in Utah and physical activity is an essential way to manage symptoms and maintain a healthy weight.”
Utah Department of Health (UDOH) data show that, of the more than 415,000 Utah adults diagnosed with arthritis, more than 57,000 (13.8%) report they do no moderate or vigorous physical activity. With that in mind, the theme for World Arthritis Day, October 12, 2012, is ‘Move to Improve’.
Although exercise and lifestyle self-management are critical to reducing the health impact of arthritis, losing weight can be a complex battle due to joint pain and stiffness that can limit physical activity.
“People with arthritis may have a more difficult time losing weight and exercising, but those are the two best things they can do to improve their symptoms,” said Castleton.
Simple walking can reduce pain, improve function, and promote weight loss. A loss of just 10-12 pounds can make a big difference in quality of life and postpone further disability.  The combination of physical activity and weight loss can reduce the number of knee replacements and help people with arthritis live longer. It can also help people manage other chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
The CDC recommends moderate-intensity, low-impact activities like walking, dancing, biking, swimming, and water aerobics. Current physical activity recommendations for adults are 150 minutes per week, or 30 minutes per day at least 3 days per week (2.5 hours per week). “If 30 minutes seems too overwhelming, activity can be broken up into 10-15 minute sessions and spread throughout the day” suggests Castleton.
The CDC endorses programs like the Arthritis Foundation’s Exercise Program, Stanford’s Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, and others such as Enhance Fitness and Walk With Ease to support people with arthritis in self-managing and increasing their physical activity. With new funding from the CDC, the Utah Department of Health will help even more individuals in Utah access these programs in community settings throughout the state.
For more information, or to learn more about free exercise and other arthritis classes in your area, visit or call 801-538-9458. Or contact the Arthritis Foundation at 1-800-444-4993 or
Media Contacts:
Christine Weiss
(o) 801-538-9458 (m) 801) 471-8073
Leslie Nelson
Utah Arthritis Foundation
(o) 801-536-0990 (m) 801-918-6262

Thursday, October 11, 2012

No Utah Facilities Received Medication Linked to Meningitis

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are coordinating a multi-state investigation of fungal meningitis cases among patients who received an injection with a potentially-contaminated steroid medication.  The medication linked to this outbreak was produced by the New England Compounding Center (NECC) in Framingham, Massachusetts.  None of the three medication lots that have been linked to this outbreak were distributed to health care providers in Utah.
Even so, Utah residents who received any epidural injection or joint injection within the past few months are asked to be vigilant and watch for any signs or symptoms of illness, especially those consistent with meningitis.  Meningeal signs and symptoms being seen as part of this outbreak include the following: headache, neck pain, neck stiffness, fever, nausea, vomiting, and in some cases, weakness or numbness (in any part of the body), and sensitivity to light.  In the current outbreak, most patients have begun experiencing symptoms one to four weeks after their epidural injection. 
Three lots of the preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate were voluntarily recalled in the latter part of September by NECC because of potential contamination. A total of 75 facilities/clinics in 23 states received product from the three recalled lots.  A list of the facilities can be found on the CDC’s website at
Facilities in Idaho and Nevada are among those that received medication from the three recalled lots. However, none of the recalled medication was administered to patients in Nevada before being pulled from use. The possibility of exposure does exist for any Utah residents who received an epidural injection treatment within the past couple of months at a clinic/facility in Idaho named in the above-mentioned list.
On October 6, 2012, NECC expanded its previous recalls to include all products currently in circulation that were produced at and distributed from its facility in Framingham, Massachusetts. This was done from an abundance of caution by NECC and none of the products included in this expanded recall have been linked to this current outbreak of meningitis. Some clinics/facilities in Utah did receive epidural medications and other medications produced and distributed by NECC that are included in the expanded recall.  As stated above, no facilities in Utah received any of the medications from the three lots initially recalled by NECC that have been tied to the outbreak.
As of October 10, 137 cases have been reported and there have been 12 deaths associated with the outbreak.  All of the cases have occurred in patients who received an epidural injection using methylprednisolone acetate from the three lots of medication included in the initial recall by NECC.  All cases have occurred in the following 10 states, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.  The CDC has set up a website with updated information regarding this outbreak at   The website has current case counts, deaths, and those states affected, as well as patient and clinician information.
The Utah Department of Health is closely monitoring the outbreak and distributing information to clinicians and other public health partners.
Media Contact:
Theron Jeppson
(w) 801-538-6191

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Utahns with Brain Injuries Find Support at Annual Conference

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Every day in Utah, 37 people are treated and released from an emergency room due to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Another seven are hospitalized or die each day from a TBI.
In Utah, the leading causes of TBI are falls, car crashes, suicide and suicide attempts, and crashes involving off-highway vehicles, like ATVs, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles.
“Traumatic brain injuries can have a dramatic impact on a person’s ability to lead an active, fulfilling life,” said Trisha Keller, Manager of the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Violence and Injury Prevention Program. “TBIs can affect an individual’s ability to work, his or her short- and long-term memory, vision, sleep, mood, and movement. The real tragedy is that most TBIs are preventable.”
Dallas Griffiths knows all too well the devastating effects a TBI can have. On February 12, 2008, at the age of 24, Griffiths was longboarding in Snow Canyon when he crashed and suffered a severe brain injury. He was not wearing a helmet at the time. Surgeons his life, but he was in a coma for six weeks. When he awoke, he was paralyzed from the neck down and could not talk or even eat.
“I thought I would never walk again, but here I am,” said Griffiths. “I am one of the fortunate TBI survivors.”
Now, four years later, Griffiths is working on his Master’s degree at Westminster College and is an advocate for other TBI survivors and their families.
“I want to help others so they don’t have to feel so alone, like I did. It has been a long road, but I want people to know that with help and treatment, things can get better.”
”Learning to Live Again…” is the theme for the 23rd Annual Families and Professionals Conference sponsored by the Brain Injury Alliance of Utah (BIAU). The conference will be held October 11, 2012 at the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy.
The conference offers education and support for survivors and family members, health care professionals, educators, and other service providers. Dr. Jeff Kupfer, a licensed psychologist who provides supportive living and transitional rehabilitation for adults with a TBI, will be among the keynote speakers. Presentations on behavioral strategies, adaptive technology, legal support, the special circumstances of children with TBIs, and advice on finding community resources are among the highlights of this year’s conference. 
To register for the BIAU Conference visit 
Find more TBI-related data and information about Utah’s TBI Fund for survivors at
Media Contacts:
Jenny Johnson
Violence & Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569
Ron Roskos
Brain Injury Alliance of Utah
(m) 801-979-2799