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Tobacco products kill over 8 million people each year. Its production also adversely impacts the environment. The cultivation, production, and shipping of tobacco products contribute to consumer waste, water depletion, and increased greenhouse gases. 

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day 2022, an annual campaign by the World Health Organization (WHO) that draws attention to the negative impacts of tobacco use and the benefits of smoking cessation. This year’s theme, “Tobacco: Threat to our environment,” raises awareness of how tobacco contributes to climate change. 

World No Tobacco Day 2022 

About 480,000 people in the United States die from cigarette smoking each year, and tobacco puts an economic strain on our country’s healthcare system. The United States spends over $300 billion annually on medical costs related to smoking. 

Environmentally conscious smokers might see climate change as an added reason to consider quitting smoking. This year’s World No Tobacco Day theme—Tobacco: Threat to our environment—highlights how the tobacco industry exerts undue and irreversible pressure on our ecosystems. 

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FDA Approval of the COVID-19 “Breath Test”

By this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, you may have developed an aversion to Q-tip swabs and spit vials. Fortunately, a new and even less invasive method for COVID-19 testing has just been given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This testing device, known as an InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer, is capable of diagnosing COVID-19 using a breath sample that analyzes exhaled chemical compounds. The device’s manufacturer reports that it yields results in fewer than three minutes. 

Here’s what you need to know about the FDA’s approval of the COVID-19 breath test, including how this novel test works, how it received an EUA, its reliability, how available the test is, its cost, and who may be eligible for the test. 

How does the COVID-19 breath test work? 

The InspectIR COVID-19 Breathalyzer device uses a technique known as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to screen for exhaled chemical compounds in a person’s breath. The device itself is the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, and each device can currently test 160 breath samples daily. To take the test, a person blows into a straw, and the device analyzes their breath. The tests must be carried out by an operator under the supervision of a qualified health care professional. 

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The Tie Between Long COVID-19 and Mental Health Issues

For many people who are diagnosed with COVID-19 illness, enduring the initial barrage of symptoms is just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately, between 10 and 30 percent of people with COVID-19 will go on to develop long COVID-19, an affliction that medical researchers are still trying to understand. Of the host of lingering symptoms that have been associated with long COVID-19, mental health issues and cognitive problems pose a unique burden for a country that is already plagued by a mental health crisis. 

In honor of May’s status as Mental Health Awareness Month, here’s what you need to know about this important health holiday, long COVID-19, the link between long COVID-19 and mental health conditions, and how the federal government plans to address these significant concerns. 

Defining Mental Health Awareness Month and Long COVID-19 Illness 

Each May, several different organizations that are dedicated to supporting those with mental illness and improving care for mental health conditions come together to draw attention to the plight of millions of Americans who suffer from a mental health condition. During this month, partners contribute resources, publicize information about support groups, and share personal stories to destigmatize mental health disorders and encourage people to seek effective treatment. 

This May, it is particularly important to raise awareness about mental health issues, as many people suffering from long COVID-19 illness may be experiencing a mental health concern for the first time. Long COVID-19 is defined by the American Medical Association (AMA) as a “wide range of new or ongoing health problems people may experience more than four weeks after being first infected with SARS-Cov-2.” You don’t have to be supremely ill to develop long COVID illness, as people who only experience mild COVID-19 have gone on to have lingering symptoms. These symptoms can affect every body system, from cardiac to respiratory and psychiatric to gastrointestinal. 

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