Embargoed AJPH Research: Paid Sick Days and Flu, Tornado Safety, Youth Tobacco Laws

Article ID: 604002

Released: 6-Jun-2013 2:00 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: American Public Health Association (APHA)

Newswise — The articles below will be published online June 13, 2013, at 4 p.m. (EDT) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look” at http://www.ajph.org/first_look.shmtl. “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association, www.apha.org, and is available at www.ajph.org.

American Journal of Public Health highlights:

1.) Increased access to paid sick days may reduce workplace flu cases2.) Data from 2011 Alabama tornado informs future safety recommendations 3.) Youth access tobacco laws may reduce adult smoking prevalence

1. Increased access to paid sick days may reduce workplace flu casesNew research from the American Journal of Public Health reveals a reduction in flu cases when access to paid sick days is made available in the workplace.
Researchers used an agent-based model to evaluate the transmission patterns of influenza in workplaces under different scenarios. A baseline simulation scenario referred to data from the 2010 National Compensation Survey and assumed that a larger percentage of employees with access to paid sick days stayed home than did employees without paid sick days—both for an average of 1.7 days when sick. Results were compared to the estimated number of flu cases that might result under two alternative scenarios: (1) a universal paid sick day procedure in which all employees had access to paid sick days; and (2) a “flu days” procedure in which all employees had access to one or two days where they could stay home from work and be paid to recover from the flu.
Results indicated that universal access to paid sick days would reduce flu cases in the workplace by 5.86 percent and a “flu days” intervention would reduce cases by 25.33 percent. The universal paid sick days scenario was estimated to be more effective for small workplaces while the “flu days” would lead to fewer flu cases for larger workplaces. Findings indicated consistently that staying home away from work with the flu related to a reduction in flu cases in the workplace.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people with influenza stay home for 24 hours after their fever has resolved. However, not everyone is able to adhere to these recommendations: 42 percent of workers would not get paid if they stayed home when ill,” the study’s authors explain.
[“Policies to reduce influenza in the workplace: Impact assessments using an agent-based model.” Contact: Supriya Kumar, PhD Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pa., supriya@pitt.edu].
For more new research on infectious diseases, the following studies may be of interest:• “Longitudinal predictors of HPV vaccination among a national sample of adolescent males,” Paul Reiter, PhD• “Facilitators and barriers to discussing HIV prevention with adolescents: Perspectives of HIV-infected parents,” Laura Edwards, PhD
2. Data from 2011 Alabama tornado informs future safety recommendationsA new study from the American Journal of Public Health analyzes the deadly 2011 Alabama tornado outbreak and underscores the need for local community shelters, preparedness planning and the importance of word-of-mouth warnings.
Researchers captured mortality data from the American Red Cross and death certificates and identified cause of death – whether directly or indirectly related to the tornadoes. They also analyzed where decedents were located during the tornado, the warning they received and what action they took in response to the storm. The storms were categorized as some of the most dangerous at levels of EF-4 and EF-5.
Findings indicated a total of 247 deaths related to the tornadoes in which most deaths were attributable directly to the tornado and took place indoors and within a single-family home. Basements and bathrooms were the most common locations. In addition, many did receive a warning of the tornado and word of mouth was the most common means of disseminating that information.
The study’s findings emphasize the need for more local community shelters and information to the public about their availability. Further, the study highlights the importance of a family preparedness plan and recommends promoting future warnings by word of mouth.
“Many of these recommendations support recommendations after past events and parallel those of the National Weather Service and the Tornado Recovery Action Council in Alabama. We have also seen encouraging progress toward implementing some of these recommendations,” the authors wrote.
[“Mortality from a tornado outbreak, Alabama, April 27, 2011.” Contact: Cindy Chiu, Health Studies Branch, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cchiu@cdc.gov].
3. Youth access tobacco laws may reduce adult smoking prevalenceLaws that restrict youth access to tobacco may reduce smoking prevalence in adulthood, especially for women, according to new research from the American Journal of Public Health.
The study evaluated the long-term effects of nine youth access tobacco policies, including cigarette vending machine restrictions, identification requirements for purchase and requirements that would randomly inspect retailers to ensure compliance with youth access laws. Data from the Tobacco Use Supplement of the Current Population Survey was used to analyze the potential effects of the policies. Participants over the age of 18 were identified as those who had ever smoked, never smoked or currently smoked.
Results indicated an association between reduced smoking prevalence and restricted access policies largely among women. Four policies showed the strongest indication of being correlated with lower smoking prevalence: vending machine restrictions, identification requirements, repackaging restrictions (requiring that cigarettes be packaged and sealed in a manner that meets federal labeling standards) and restrictions on free-sample distribution.
Individually, researchers estimated that each policy could reduce the odds of smoking by 3.6 percent for women, yet exposure to all four policies could reduce prevalence by 14 percent. Collectively, they could result in a 29 percent reduction in odds for heavy smoking among those who had smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime.
“Taken together, these findings offer evidence that youth access policies may promote lower rates of smoking initiation among women, in addition to possibly leading to lighter smoking or quitting,” the study’s authors suggest.
[“Long-term effects of laws governing youth access to tobacco.” Contact: Richard Grucza, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, email: Rick@wustl.edu].
For more new research on smoking and tobacco, the following studies may be of interest:• “Undertreatment of tobacco use compared to other chronic conditions,” Steven Bernstein, MD• “When does televised anti-smoking advertising generate quitting outcomes? The effects of level and duration of exposure,” Sally Dunlop, PhD• “Effects of state medical marijuana laws on adolescent marijuana use,” Sarah Lynne-Landsman, PhD
The American Journal of Public Health ® is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association, the oldest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world. APHA is a leading publisher of books and periodicals promoting sound scientific standards, action programs and public policy to enhance health. More information is available at www.apha.org.

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