public health

A group of health organizations trying to help Louisianans quit smoking has formed a krewe in the Mardi Gras tradition. The new Krewe De Quit is an online initiative that brings smokers together around the shared bonds of a krewe. Ochsner Clinic’s Dr. W. Brooks Emory has been a pulmonary care specialist for 45 years. He says tobacco is ten times more addictive than heroine, which makes it very difficult to break the habit. He says it helps to have people doing it with you.

Explosions used to be no big deal for residents of sleepy rural towns in north Louisiana's piney woods near the Arkansas border. Blasts meant jobs.

The Army's Camp Minden was the site of a former ammunition factory built during World War II. The factory closed in the 1990s. Still, the place is littered with millions of pounds of leftover artillery waste.

The stuff in question is called M6, a toxic propellant in grenades and artillery rounds. The Army doesn't use it anymore, and tons of M6 are stored in bunkers at Camp Minden.

LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge has launched a new initiative aimed at helping reduce obesity in children.

The center released its new Childhood Obesity Treatment Toolkit Thursday. It gives the state’s primary care physicians tactics for evaluating childhood obesity and approaches to treatment. The center is distributing more than 2,000 toolkits statewide, according to Pennington’s pediatric obesity researcher Dr. Amanda Staiano.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu will be signing an ordinance today that will ban smoking in city bars and casinos. reports his signature means the ban will take effect in 90 days.

The law also includes electronic cigarettes. The City Council had been asked by several speakers at public hearings not to treat the vapor cigarettes the same as regular tobacco. But others argued there isn’t enough information yet about the health effects of e-cigarettes.

Baton Rouge is embarking on a new collaborative to tackle the problem of childhood obesity.

Over the next six months, the capitol city is one of seven cities joining forces through the National League of Cities to better understand obesity-related health disparities among children.

Deutschlandreform / Wikimedia

In a move to protect the health of musicians and late-night workers, the New Orleans City Council has voted unanimously to ban smoking in bars and gambling halls.

New Orleans had been one of the last major American cities to allow people to smoke tobacco in bars. Smoking at indoor restaurants is no longer permitted. The new ban is expected to take effect in three months.

The ban was tweaked before being approved. For instance, New Orleans police won't have to enforce the ordinance and smoking will be allowed within 5 feet of bar entrances — not 25 feet away.

A town hall meeting lasting more than two hours at New Orleans City Hall Wednesday night put smokers and non-smokers at odds over a proposed ban on lighting up citywide. Much of the debate centered on businesses having a right to opt out, versus second-hand smoking effects on employees.

Arkansas and Louisiana are ill-prepared to detect, diagnose and respond to threats like Ebola and outbreaks of infectious diseases, according to a report released Thursday by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report, “Outbreaks: Protecting Americans from Infectious Diseases,” found that Arkansas scored the lowest of all, two out of 10 on key indicators related to preventing and responding to antibiotic-resistant “superbugs.”

Louisiana health officials say residents are being hit hard by the flu.

And a vaccine might not be that effective.

The New Orleans Advocate reports the designation of “widespread” usually doesn’t happen until January or February.

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Louisiana and Alaska as the only states with “widespread” outbreaks of influenza for the week ending November 22.

The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals is reporting an uptick in influenza reports.

Thousands of scientists from around the world jammed into a New Orleans hotel ballroom to hear remarks by former Microsoft President Bill Gates about medical advances his foundation is funding to stop contagious diseases. Some who could not attend were also cheered by their colleagues.