WASHINGTON — A federal judge blocked the federal government Monday from requiring tobacco companies to begin putting graphic new warning labels on cigarette packages, cartons and advertisements beginning next year.
In a 29-page decision, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon granted a request from five tobacco companies to issue a preliminary injunction barring implementation of the Food and Drug Administration’s new mandate.
The tobacco companies hailed the decision, while smoking opponents criticized the ruling and urged the Justice Department to appeal.
The judge’s decision puts on hold a plan unveiled in June by the FDA designed to shock customers with nine graphic images of tobacco’s impact, including smokers exhaling through a tracheotomy hole, struggling for breath in an oxygen mask and lying dead on a table with a long chest scar.
Oregon looks to iPads to help disabled people vote
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon was first in the nation to have all residents vote by mail. Now it’s pioneering another idea: vote by iPad.
Voters in five counties are filling out and returning their mail-in ballots for a Tuesday special primary election to replace former U.S. Rep. David Wu, who resigned following a sex scandal. A handful will mark their ballots not with a pen but with the tip of their finger.
It’s the latest attempt at using new technology to help voters with disabilities cast ballots privately.
Armed with iPads and portable printers, county election workers are going to parks, nursing homes, community centers and anywhere else they might find groups of voters who have trouble filling out traditional paper ballots.
Using the iPad, disabled voters can call up the right ballot and tap the screen to pick a candidate, with or without the help of election workers. The voters then print the completed ballot and stuff it in an envelope to sign, take with them and drop in the mail or an official ballot box.
State elections officials say they’ll use the same system in the special general election in January. And if the pilot project is successful, they’ll make the service available across the state. They believe Oregon is the first state to try using iPads to mark ballots.
Emergency warning test coming to every radio and TV in the nation
WASHINGTON — This is only a test. Seriously.
That’s what the Federal Emergency Management Agency wants the public to know about the first nationwide test of the emergency alert system, scheduled for Wednesday.
The decades-old warning system is often tested locally, but it has never been tested on every radio and TV station in the country at the same time, according to FEMA.
The agency is trying to get the word out about the test to avoid unnecessary alarm like, say, the panic caused by Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of a fictional Martian invasion in New Jersey.
Wednesday’s 30-second test will begin at 2 p.m. EST. Some 30,000 radio and TV operations will participate in the test.
Schools’ soda bans don’t stop sugary-drink consumption, study says
LOS ANGELES — A new study found that students in schools that limited sales of soda and other sugary beverages on campus consumed just as many of the drinks, overall, as students in schools without any such restrictions.
The study, published online Monday by Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, used data on 5,900 of students who have been tracked since they were kindergarteners in 1998.
The researchers looked at 40 states. Twenty-two had no policy governing sales of sugary drinks in middle schools, 11 forbid sales of soda only, and seven banned all manner of sugar-sweetened beverages, including sports drinks and fruit drinks (but not 100 percent fruit juices). In all three categories, the prevalence of obesity was essentially the same, ranging from 22.3 percent to 22.6 percent. In addition, 83 percent to 87 percent of students from all categories drank sugar-sweetened beverages at least once a week, and 26 percent to 33 percent of them drank sugar-sweetened beverages at least once a day.