Health Highlights: Dec. 8, 2016

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

Trump Appoints Fossil Fuel Industry Ally to Lead EPA

A fossil fuel industry ally and opponent of policies to fight climate change has been appointed to run the Environmental Protection Agency in Donald Trump’s administration.

Republican Scott Pruitt is the Oklahoma attorney general and has been a leader of legal challenges against President Barack Obama’s programs to combat climate change, The New York Times reported.

In the presidential campaign, Trump claimed that the established science of human-caused climate change is a hoax and said he would cancel that Paris accord in which most nations pledged action against climate change.

In the U.S., a cornerstone of President Obama’s efforts against climate change are EPA rules forcing power plants to significantly lower emissions of carbon dioxide air pollution.

While the Trump administration would not be able to unilaterally cancel those regulations, an EPA chief with legal experience could weaken, delay or gradually dismantle them, The Times reported.


E-Cigarettes a Threat to Young Americans’ Health: U.S. Surgeon General

E-cigarettes pose an emerging health threat to American youth, the U.S. Surgeon General says in a report released Thursday.

While further research into the health effects of the nicotine-emitting devices is needed, they are not harmless and too many teens are using them, according to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

“My concern is e-cigarettes have the potential to create a whole new generation of kids who are addicted to nicotine,” Murthy told The Associated Press. “If that leads to the use of other tobacco-related products, then we are going to be moving backward instead of forward.”

Last year, 16 percent of U.S. high school students said they had used e-cigarettes at least once, according to federal government data.

Parents and health providers need to clearly explain concerns about e-cigarettes to youngsters, and local officials should also take action, such as including e-cigarettes in indoor smoking bans, the surgeon general’s report said.

It’s illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors and earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration issued new rules that will force makers of e-cigarettes and similar devices to start submitting their ingredients to regulators for review.

However, it’s likely that the e-cigarette industry will lobby the Trump administration to scrap those rules, the AP reported.