CDC Says American Smoking Rate Drops To 17%


The Hill reports that the US smoking rate dropped to 17 percent in 2013, the lowest level ever and down from around 21 percent in 2005, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Tim McAfee, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in a statement that the rate “is encouraging news…but we still have much more work to do to help people quit.” In 2013, some 42 million people in the US were regular smokers, “a drop of about 3 million since 2005.” McAfee attributed the reduction to tax policies, laws that limit smoking, and “hard-hitting media campaigns.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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VA Expands Eligibility for VA Health Care Related to Military Sexual Trauma


Expansion closes a gap in health care eligibility

Washington, DC – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), under authority from the Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (“VACAA”),  announced expanded eligibility for Veterans in need of mental health care due to sexual assault or sexual harassment that occurred during their military service. This trauma is commonly known as military sexual trauma (MST).

This expansion, which primarily pertains to Reservists and National Guard members participating in weekend drill, gives the authority to offer Veterans the appropriate care and services needed to treat conditions resulting from MST that occurred during a period of inactive duty training.

“VA simply must be an organization that provides comprehensive care for all Veterans dealing with the effects of military sexual trauma,” said VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald.  “Our range of services for MST-related experiences are constantly being reexamined to best meet the needs of our Veterans.”

Secretary McDonald met last week with Ruth Moore, a Navy Veteran and MST survivor for whom the Ruth Moore Act of 2013 is named. Ms. Moore will be working with VA to ensure that survivors are treated fairly and compassionately, and that Veterans with MST can access fair compensation exams and access health care practitioners who are trained in understanding and working with MST issues.

VA works closely with trauma survivors to ensure a full continuum of health care services are provided to assist Veterans recovering from experiences of MST. Recognizing that MST survivors may have special needs and concerns, every VA health care facility has an MST Coordinator who serves as a contact person for MST-related issues. Every VA medical center and Community-based Vet Center offers MST-related outpatient counseling.

Currently, all VA health care for mental and physical health conditions related to MST is provided free of charge. Veterans do not need to have a service-connected disability or seeking disability compensation to be eligible for MST-related counseling and care. Veterans also do not need to have reported such incidents to the Department of Defense or possess documentation or records to support their assertion of having experienced such trauma. The determination of whether a Veteran’s condition is MST-related is strictly a clinical determination made by the responsible VA mental health provider. Finally, Veterans need not be enrolled in VA’s health care system to qualify for MST-related treatment, as it is independent of VA’s general treatment authority.

In addition to treatment programs, VA also provides training to staff on issues related to MST, including a mandatory training on MST for all mental health and primary care providers. VA also engages in a range of outreach activities to Veterans and conducts monitoring of MST-related screening and treatment, in order to ensure that adequate services are available.

Veterans can learn more about VA’s MST-related services online at and see video clips with the recovery stories of Veterans who have experienced MST at

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Cases of Abuse: How to Know if You’ll Make Money on Your Suit

Cases of Abuse How to Know if You'll Make Money on Your Suit

Domestic violence is a growing problem in our society. Fortunately, experts are offering more detailed advice on how to recognize, prevent, and deal with it to offset some of the damage that typically occurs. If you or a loved one have experienced domestic abuse or malpractice in a nursing home, you may be wondering if it is worth it to take the offender to court. Here are some indicators that may help you to decide if your suit will render a settlement or verdict in your favor.

Damages Must be Proven
Although it seems logical to assume that any kind of domestic abuse must result in damage, it is not always easy to prove the harm has occurred or affected the victim in measurable ways. The defense attorney and court judge or jury will want to see clear evidence of abuse that must be substantiated by an expert. For example, a medical doctor who testifies that a woman has been treated in his office for injuries related to domestic violence may be an acceptable witness in a court case. For a case of elder abuse in Denver, the law would see a favorable witness as doctors and managers of the facility. Emergency room records, child welfare or social services professionals, and psychiatrists or counselors may be able to validate a victim’s claim of harmful abuse. Sometimes family members, neighbors, coworkers, or friends may serve as acceptable court witnesses.

Damages Must be Measurable

According to a Colorado elder abuse firm, the harm that occurs to a victim of abuse must be evident in some type of measurable way. For example, if the victim says she suffered extreme emotional trauma, how can that be supported with evidence? A record or journal kept that records nightmares, panic attacks, or counseling visits may be helpful. Job absenteeism, personality changes, or confidences to trusted friends may help to support the claim of damage as far as how it manifests and when it began.

Losses Must be Documented
A victim’s loss may include lost wages from missing work, costs of medical or psychological treatment, including counseling appointments, moving out and establishing a new residence, changing jobs, getting another car if the perpetrator damages the current one, and issues of this type. The court will determine if the loss is substantial, if it is related to the abuse, and if the defendant is responsible.

Under these conditions an abuse claim may lead to a settlement offer from the defendant or a guilty verdict in court, with damages or restitution to be paid to the plaintiff.

This article is from Brooke Chaplan, a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

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FDA Releases New Guidance for Compounding Facilities

The Pharmacy Times reported that the FDA released “3 policy documents that assist companies that compound sterile drugs with registering as outsourcing facilities.” The scope of the documents are, “final guidance on registration of human drug compounding outsourcing facilities under section 503B of the FD&C Act,” as well as “final guidance on fees for human drug compounding outsourcing facilities under sections 503B and 744K of the FD&C Act,” and “how facilities can submit payment to the FDA; the consequences of failure to pay fees; and how a facility can qualify as a small business to obtain a reduction in registration fees.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Increased Number of Recalls Creates Logistical Issues for Hospitals Forced to Manually Recall

Modern Healthcare reported that as the number of medical-device recalls increases, “so has the complexity of the recalls,” which has raised “questions about safety and risks for hospitals that mostly still track and locate faulty products manually.” In 2012, “there were 1,190 recalls of medical devices” which “nearly double[d] the 604 recalls reported to the Food and Drug Administration in 2003.”

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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FDA Calls for Boxed Warnings for Power Morcellators

The Washington Post reports that the FDA has “strengthened its warnings…against the use of” laparoscopic power morcellators “to remove uterine growths in the vast majority of women” due to the risk “of spreading hidden cancers.” The agency said it will ask manufacturers of the product to place “boxed warnings” on the devices, which the Post adds is “the strongest type of labeling a product can have while remaining on the market.” William Maisel, chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, told reporters Monday “We believe the recommendations are appropriate and put appropriate restrictions on the use of laparoscopic power morcellation. We believe in the vast majority of women, the procedure should not be performed.”

Bloomberg News reports that the power morcellators have been used to “help surgeons remove a woman’s uterus or fibroid growths by cutting tissue into pieces that can be taken out through a small incision in the abdomen.” The FDA said that the uterine tissue, however, “can contain unsuspected cancer cells,” and the morcellator “may spread the disease” and ultimately “decrease the long-term survival of patients.”

HealthDay reports that, according to the NIH, “Most women will develop uterine fibroids at some point in their lives,” and “these fibroids can cause symptoms such as heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain or frequent urination.”

Large hospital group bans morcellation following FDA-ordered boxed warning.

The Wall Street Journal reports that HCA Holdings, Inc., a large for-profit hospital network including 160 hospitals, 115 surgery centers, and spanning 20 states, has prohibited use of power morcellation in laparoscopic uterine surgery, according to an email from a spokesperson on Tuesday. The FDA has issued a boxed warning for the device after investigation into its use discovered it may actually disperse cancerous tissues inside the body. While some have called for an all-out ban, such as implemented by HCA Holdings, the FDA contends that morcellation has minimal but important application in young women hoping to preserve the childbearing ability of the uterus.

Also reporting on the HCA ban, Reuters adds that the FDA’s new guidelines for the device say it should not be used in older women or in cases where the fibroid can be totally removed. Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon is a large manufacturer of the device, but has stopped selling it. Bloomberg News also reports the story.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Six Gift Ideas to Show Your Distant Loved Ones You Care

Gift box

Shopping for distant loved ones isn’t always such an easy task. Unless you maintain frequent communication, chances are you’re out of touch with what’s taking place in their lives.

Children grow up so fast, so what may seem like the perfect gift could end up being donated to charity, buried under the bed, or even worse, tossed. And with time, adults mature and things they once enjoyed are no longer.

But don’t fret. Here are some thoughtful gift ideas for all the long-distance relatives, both young and old, on your list:

Personalized Pieces

An assortment of engraved pieces will show them that they’re on your mind. Things Remembered offers an array of customizable gifts to choose from, including phone accessories for the teenager who’s addicted to texting or stuffed animals for the vibrant toddler. Adults who enjoy adorning the interior of their home with stylish decor will be pleased with personalized drinkware, kitchen décor, frames or wall art. If not, jewelry with a message that melts the heart is always an option.

Art Supply Kit

For the younger grandchildren and other little people near and dear to your heart, an art supply kit is sure to be a hit. But here’s the kicker: you must commission them to create the perfect piece for you. The kit should include paper, colored pencils, markers, scissors, glue, paint (if their parents don’t mind messes) and an oversized, pre-stamped envelope to deliver their creation.

Gift Baskets

You can’t go wrong with a gift basket from FTD since there’s something for everyone. FTD makes it easier than ever to send high quality gifts to loved ones all over the country with the simple click of a button. The adults on your list will be delighted to receive a wine and spirits or spa basket to help them unwind after a grueling day at work. Gourmet fruit and cheese baskets are ideal for the food connoisseurs on your list. For the younger relatives, gift baskets containing sweet treats, such as gourmet cookies and candy, will do. Most importantly, there are several affordable options to choose from.


Demanding schedules and exorbitant living expenses sometimes make it difficult for distant loved ones to leave the comforts of their residence and explore all the world has to offer. But through daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, you have the opportunity to give the gift of travel through an all-inclusive getaway or lodging voucher, at a fraction of the cost.

Gift Card

Perhaps your distant loved ones enjoy shopping at select retailers or dining at a chain of restaurants. If so, gift cards will be a hit and grant some form of relief since they can keep hard-earned cash in their pocket or take care of other outstanding expenses.


The gift of written word is timeless and can be shared for many generations to come. For children, a popular collection of pictures or chapter books that have withstood the test of time make a pleasant gift. And parents or older relatives will enjoy novels, self-help or inspirational titles. Cookbooks are also a great choice for those who frequently embrace their inner chef.

Happy shopping!

Author Bio: Allison Martin is a writer, financial mentor and business consultant to mommy-preneurs. Her work has been featured on ABC News, MSN Money, Yahoo! Finance, Fox Business, Credit.comand Money Talks News. When she’s not writing away, Allison enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.

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Seven Reasons Why You Should Sue After Suffering an Injury

7 Reasons Why You Should Sue After Suffering an Injury

A personal injury can have life altering consequences. The need exists to obtain appropriate compensation to cover the losses associated with a personal injury. The reality is that the negligence of another person that results in a personal injury may leave the injured person with no alternative but to file and pursue a lawsuit. There are seven primary reasons why a person should considering suing in the aftermath of a lawsuit.

Insurance Companies Try to Force a Low Dollar Settlement

In the absence of filing a lawsuit, insurance companies commonly work their hardest to force a low dollar settlement on an injured person. Indeed, insurance companies exist to make money for their shareholders. This means that insurance companies are aggressive when it comes to preventing an injured person from receiving an appropriate settlement.

Maximize Compensation

By filing a lawsuit, an injured person typically is put in the best possible position to maximize the compensation received for an injury (Source: Yearwood & Company). This can occur either through a negotiated settlement of a lawsuit or a judgment after a trial.

Punitive Damages

If the conduct of a third party causing an injury was particularly egregious or reckless, an injured person may be entitled to additional compensation in the way of punitive damages. Punitive damages are only available through a lawsuit.

Discovery Process

Another reason a person who has been injured should file a lawsuit is the fact that litigation opens the door to what is known as the discovery process. Discovery allows an injured person the ability to obtain additional information and evidence from the opposing side in litigation that may support his or her case.

Protection of the Court

The court also adds a layer of protection in regard to a claim for compensation for injuries. By this it is meant that an insurance company cannot as easily try to roll over an injured person when the court is involved in the process.

Expert Witnesses

Pursuing a lawsuit also permits an individual the ability to take fuller advantage of expert witnesses who can testify in support of his or her position in the case.

Examine the Third Party

Yet another reason it is beneficial to pursue a lawsuit is found in the fact that the person who caused the injury can be examined under oath. This occurs not only at trial but through a deposition in the discovery process.

Conclusion: The Importance of Legal Representation

The reality is that a typical layperson does not have the experience or background necessary to effectively pursue a personal injury lawsuit. For this reason, it is imperative that an injured person consider seriously the need to retain a qualified, experiences and tenacious personal injury attorney.

The typical personal injury attorney will schedule an initial consultation with an injured person at no cost to that individual. During an initial consultation, a lawyer will lay out strategies designed to best protect an injured person’s rights and interests in the aftermath of an accident that caused injury.

This article is from Lizzie Weakley, a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. She went to college at The Ohio State University where she studied communications. She enjoys the outdoors and long walks in the park with her three-year-old husky Snowball.

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FDA Responds to Criticism Over Decision to Approve Painkiller

The Wall Street Journal reports that the FDA is responding to growing criticism of its decision to green light opioid painkiller Zohydro ER (hydrocodone bitartrate), pointing out that targeting just one medication amid rising use of opioids would be counterproductive. In a recent piece in the Journal of the American Medical Association, three FDA officials, including Janet Woodcock, who heads the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Review, argue that such a singular focus on one medication will not help resolve the drug use epidemic.

From the news release of the American Association for Justice.

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Mental Anguish After an Accident? How to Get Compensated Appropriately

Mental Anguish

When you are involved in an accident that has caused mental anguish, getting the compensation you deserve is not always a simple task as it is not easily quantifiable. Taking the appropriate steps to get the compensation you deserve is a way for you to find relief from stress and not having the ability to maintain your everyday lifestyle. The more time you take to prepare your case for court, the more likely you are to receive the outcome you have in mind. Here are just a few things that you can do in order to make sure you are compensated appropriately.

Gather Evidence

Whenever you are involved in an accident it is imperative to gather as much evidence, paperwork and proof as possible to help in showing your side of the case in front of a judge. Photos, video, eyewitness statements, police reports and even hospital records are all necessary to help in proving your case when attempting to receive compensation. If you are looking for a certain amount of compensation it is important to organize your paperwork and documents as much as possible prior to seeking out additional legal help and counsel. Remember you should know what constitutes fair compensation in an effort to avoid any outlandish requests on part of the adjuster.

Research Attorneys

Hiring an attorney for your case may also be the right solution, especially when you are seeking compensation for the mental anguish you have dealt with due to the accident itself. Finding out more information on different attorneys and personal injury lawyers near you can be done with referrals from those you know in addition to researching the attorneys you are interested in hiring right from home, online. Read real testimonials and reviews from clients on different attorneys you want to work with online to ensure you are getting the protection and defense you deserve in court.

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Choosing to work together with a personal injury lawyer after you have been involved in an accident of any kind is highly advisable, whether you have been physically injured or if you have suffered from mental and emotional anguish. Hiring a Kenneth Cristall Law Corporation personal injury attorney allows you to keep your mind at ease while the proper paperwork is filed for your case in a court of law.

Knowing which resources are available to you when involved in an accident is the first step in getting the outcome you desire when going to court and attempting to get your life back on track. The more you research and work together with professionals who specialize in personal injury cases, the less likely your case is to be dismissed when you are in court and fighting for your rights.

This article is from Meghan Belnap, blogger, researcher, and freelance writer.

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