Health Highlights: Jan. 1, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Hawaii Becomes First State to Raise Smoking Age to 21

Hawaii has become the first state to raise the legal smoking to age 21 for both traditional and electronic cigarettes.

Effective Jan. 1, state health officials hope the new law will make it harder for teenagers to try smoking or to develop the deadly habit, the Associated Press reported.

“In Hawaii, about one in four students in high school try their first cigarette each year, and one in three who get hooked will die prematurely,” said Lola Irvin, administrator with the chronic disease prevention and health promotion division of the Hawaii Department of Health.

E-cigarettes were added to the legislation after officials saw the percentage of public high school students smoking electronic cigarettes quadruple over four years, to 22 percent in 2015, the AP reported. Among middle schoolers, there was a sixfold increase in use during that same time period, to 12 percent in 2015.

More than 100 cities and counties have already raised the smoking age to 21, including New York City, according to the wire service.

Several military bases in Hawaii said they would comply with the new state law, the AP reported.


Blue Bell Creameries Probed for Deadly Listeria Outbreak

Blue Bell Creameries is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with a deadly listeria outbreak earlier this year that killed three people.

An investigation conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration following the outbreak discovered the bacteria in all three of the company’s ice cream production plants — located in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas. That investigation also discovered condensation dripping into ice cream and unsanitary equipment, CBS News reported.

Following the outbreak, the company issued a nationwide recall and almost 8 million gallons of ice cream were pulled off the market.

All three plants, which were shut down last April, are operating again, and new ice cream products are set to hit store shelves in 15 states by the end of January, the network said.

The Department of Justice investigation is focused on whether Blue Bell management knew about the contaminated plants and, if so, when it knew, sources told CBS News.

Records have shown that the company knew about contamination at at least one plant back in 2013, according to CBS News.

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