A study of US smoking habits found over 1 in 8 high school students are users of a tobacco product of some type, and around 4% of middle school students are, too. Separately, in Florida, the state Supreme Court issued a ruling that could make it harder to sue tobacco companies.

The Washington Post: 2.55 Million Middle And High School Students Use Some Type Of Tobacco Product

The latest analysis of smoking habits among US youths describes 2.55 million middle school and high school students as users of some type of tobacco product (combustible, smokeless or electronic). That equates to about 13 percent of high school students and 4 percent of middle school students. The findings are from the 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey, run jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. (Searing, 3/20)

Health News Florida: Tobacco Industry Gets A Win At Florida Supreme Court

In what a dissenting justice called a “fundamental shift,” the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday issued a ruling that likely will make it harder for many plaintiffs suing tobacco companies about smoking-related illnesses. The 6-1 ruling dealt with plaintiffs in a large group of cases – known as “Engle progeny” cases – and claims that tobacco companies fraudulently concealed or conspired to conceal information about the health effects and addictiveness of smoking. Siding with RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co., the Supreme Court said plaintiffs must show that smokers relied on misleading information from cigarette makers to prevail on the claims. (Saunders, 3/18)

In news about marijuana use –

CNN: Study Raises Questions About Risks Of Using Medical Marijuana For Mood And Anxiety Disorders

Some people with pain, anxiety or depression who obtain medical marijuana cards may overuse marijuana within a short time frame, leading to cannabis use disorder while failing to improve their symptoms, a new study found. Cannabis use disorder, also known as marijuana use disorder, is associated with dependence on the use of weed. People are considered dependent on weed when they feel food cravings or have a lack of appetite, irritability, restlessness, and mood and sleep difficulties after quitting, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Heavy use of marijuana by teens and young adults with mood disorders – such as depression and bipolar disorder – was linked to an increased risk of self-harm, suicide attempts and death, according to an earlier study published in 2021. (LaMotte, 3/19)

NBC News: States, Flush With Marijuana Money, Are Now Fighting Over What To Do With It

Legal marijuana sales have been a boon to revenues in 11 states. But as the marijuana tax revenue boosts state treasuries, activists and politicians are jockeying over how to spend it. In California, state marijuana growers are pushing the Legislature to lower the taxes they’re required to pay, a move that child advocates say will cut funds meant for vulnerable communities. And on the East Coast, a battle over tax spending pushed back an early start of marjuana sales in Virginia. (Ramos, 3/17)

In other news about drug use and addiction –

Fox News: Fentanyl Found In Ventilation System Of Ohio Juvenile Detention Facility; 7 Victims Rushed To Hospital

At least seven people have been taken to the hospital after fentanyl was discovered in the air ventilation system of an Ohio juvenile detention facility, forcing an evacuation. Multiple ambulances and emergency personnel responded to dispatch calls at the Northwest Ohio Juvenile Detention Training and Rehabilitation Center in Stryker after several victims began collapsing for an unknown reason, WTOL reported. It was later discovered that fentanyl was being spread throughout the facility via the air conditioning, affecting four juveniles and three corrections officers, Williams County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Lehman told the outlet. (Richard, 3/21)

Anchorage Daily News: ‘Lethal Batch’ Of Heroin Has Caused At Least 6 Deaths In Mat-Su, According To Alaska State Troopers

A “lethal batch” of heroin circulating now in Mat-Su has caused at least six deaths and 17 overdose emergencies, Alaska State Troopers say. Troopers, along with Palmer and Wasilla police departments, responded to several suspected overdoses just this week, troopers said in an online dispatch. “Law enforcement believe that a lethal batch of heroin is currently circulating in the Mat-Su, causing the rise in overdose events.” The deaths and emergencies – any overdose that required a 911 call for help or other request for assistance – were all within the last 30 days, according to troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel. (Hollander, 3/18)

St. Louis Public Radio: St. Louis Saw Hundreds Of Overdose Deaths During The Pandemic

The number of reported drug-related deaths in the St. Louis region has held steady over the past year, but public health experts say that’s not a cause for celebration. In the first three quarters of 2021, there were 780 overdose deaths in the region, about the same as during the same period in 2020, according to the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The St. Louis area was the only part of the state where overdose deaths didn’t increase. However, almost half of Missouri overdose deaths occurred in and around St. Louis. (Fentem, 3/21)

Axios: Latinos Experienced A 40% Spike In Drug Overdose Death Rates: Study

Latinos in the US experienced a 40% spike in drug overdose death rates in 2020, according to a new study. The large percentage increase for Latinos shows how the pandemic and isolation may have affected Hispanics, who experienced higher rates of COVID-19 deaths. The study published this month in JAMA Psychiatry found that Latinos had a drug overdose death rate of 17.3 per 100,000 residents in 2020, compared to around 12.3 the year before. (Contreras, 3/18)

KHN: Money Flows Into Addiction Tech, But Will It Curb Soaring Opioid Overdose Deaths?

David Sarabia had already sold two startups by age 26 and was sitting on enough money to never have to work another day in his life. He moved from Southern California to New York City and began to indulge in all the luxuries his newly minted millionaire status conveyed. Then it all went sideways, and his life quickly unraveled. “I became a massive cocaine addict,” Sarabia said. “It started off just casual partying, but that escalated to pretty much anything I could get my hands on.” (Rinker, 3/21)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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