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In brief: Sweeping overhaul of COVID guidelines; fewer smokers trying to quit

Aug. 17, 2022
Learn about the latest CDC guidelines on COVID-19, dental issues continuing to plague the UK, a decline in smoking cessation efforts, and more.
Elizabeth S. Leaver, Digital content manager

COVID-19 guidelines get overhauled, but not for health-care settings

Late last week, the CDC released significant changes to COVID-19 guidelines, acknowledging that “the pandemic is not over, but [the changes] also help us move to a point where COVID-19 no longer severely disrupts our daily lives.” Changes include no longer recommending testing to screen for COVID-19 in most places for people who don’t have symptoms; however, nursing and health-care settings “will continue to rely on the CDC's old community transmission framework.”

UK plagued by dental woes

With 98% of practices in some of the UK not accepting new adult patients, dental-related news there continues to be grim. One Guardian article highlights a rise in DIY dentistry, including people using superglue to stick homemade teeth to their gums, while another reports an uptick in Britons traveling abroad for dental treatment as care closer to home is increasingly inaccessible.

Congressional leaders press Congress on CHIRA, McCarran-Ferguson

Several members of congress requested an update from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the agency’s efforts to crack down on anticompetitive conduct in the health and dental insurance industries since Congress passed the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (CHIRA) and repealed the McCarran-Ferguson Act’s “business of insurance” antitrust exemption for insurers in January 2021. The bipartisan group of US Representatives called the amendment to McCarran-Ferguson “a monumental and positive step for competition and consumer protection,” and intimated that before it, “health-insurance companies [were allowed] free rein to exert market power and collude to drive up premiums, price-gouge customers, restrict competition, and deny consumers choice.”

Attempts to quit smoking down

A study of almost 800,000 smokers in the US found that the annual percentage of attempts to quit has gone down for the first time since 2011. The report in Jama Network Open attributes the decline to the “COVID-19 pandemic and the need to reengage smokers in evidence-based quitting strategies.”

ADA: Ban menthol cigarettes

Also in tobacco-related news, a coalition that includes the ADA has asked the FDA to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, saying a product standard prohibiting menthol as a characterizing flavor in cigarettes meets the statutory public health standard. “The science supporting this product standard has been clear for over a decade and has grown stronger with each passing year,” the coalition wrote. “There is no justification, or excuse, for further delay.”