tobacco

When U-Haul recently announced it will no longer hire people who use nicotine in any form in the 21 states where such hiring policies are legal, the Phoenix-based moving company joined a cadre of companies with nicotine-free hiring policies.

For decades, major tobacco companies have fought against raising the age limit to buy their products from 18 to 21. But recently, some cigarette and e-cigarette giants have started lobbying for the minimum age to rise.

"Raising the purchase age to 21 reduces underage access," a radio ad from e-cigarette giant Juul declared. "That's why Juul Labs supports making 21+ the law nationwide."

Congress is set to pass a $1.4 trillion spending package this week, which President Trump has said he'll sign. The legislation includes policy changes and funding increases that public health advocates are celebrating, as well as the permanent repeal of three key taxes that were designed to pay for Obamacare — a win for industry groups.

Updated at on Dec. 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET

Congressional leaders unveiled two massive spending measures and touted key wins in the $1.3 trillion spending agreement to fund the government for the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year just days before a critical government shutdown deadline.

The House passed the spending bills with bipartisan support on Tuesday. The Senate is expected to approve both bills later this week and send them to the president for his signature.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

Some 10.8 million Americans had started vaping as of last year, according to a government study. The surge has been driven to a great degree by the immense success of Juul, by far the most popular vaping product.

In 1998, major tobacco companies reached a historic legal settlement with states that had sued them over the health care costs of smoking-related illnesses. But individual smokers have continued to sue, and to this day the tobacco industry remains tied up in hundreds of court fights with sickened smokers, or with family members who lost a loved one to cancer, heart disease, or other smoking-related illness.

Uganda explicitly bars government officials from accepting gifts of any kind from cigarette-makers. French and British officials must publicly announce any encounters with representatives of the industry. Thailand and the Philippines won't even let officials take a meeting except under the narrowest of circumstances.

These are some of the measures deployed by countries around the world to limit influence over their anti-smoking policies, according to the first-ever Global Tobacco Industry Interference Index.

Editor’s Note: Sarah Milov, assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia and author of the forthcoming book, “The Cigarette: A Political History,” provided extensive research material for historians Ed Ayers and Nathan Connolly. We did not attribute the research to Sarah in the original broadcast that aired. We apologize for the error.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says one of his "highest priorities" is to take on the leading cause of preventable death in the United States: smoking.

McConnell has sponsored a bill, along with Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, that would increase the tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21.

Smokers who switched to e-cigarettes were much more likely to quit than people who used nicotine patches, gum or similar products, according to a large study.

The bad news: People who successfully quit tobacco were often hooked on e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are considered far less hazardous than the ones you light up. Still, American health officials worry about their addictive nature and lure for young people. But British health officials tend to look more favorably upon them.

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