Health notes: Tobacco, baby boys, joint seminar

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Poll: Anti-tobacco measures popular

Minnesotans are on board with tobacco-prevention legislation, according to poll results released last week.

According to a news release from Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation, the survey sponsored by that organization and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota had these results:

  • 74% of Minnesotans support adopting Tobacco 21 (no tobacco sales until the age of 21) at the state level.

  • 74% support banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.

  • 88% support a ban on smoking and e-cigarette use when children are in the car.

Bills on all three issues were heard in various committees of the Minnesota Legislature last week.
The St. Louis County Board unanimously approved a Tobacco 21 ordinance last week.


But it’s already illegal across the country, under federal law, to sell tobacco products to anyone under age 21. That legislation was signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 20, 2019.

A baby boy bust post-Trump?

Here’s an unexpected result of the 2016 presidential election: fewer boys in Ontario.

OK, that needs some explaining. It comes in the form of research published on Monday, March 2, in the online journal BMJ Open.

It starts with this explainer: The sex ratio at birth generally favors boys, albeit not by much. But stressful events during a pregnancy, such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks, have been seen to swing the balance in the other direction for babies born three to five months later. Examples of this phenomenon include the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the 2004 Madrid bombings, the 2005 London bombings and the 2011 killings in Norway.

So Canadian researchers wanted to know if the unexpected election of a Republican president in November 2016 might have been perceived as stressful in left-leaning societies outside of the U.S. and affected the sex ratio.

They looked at all births in Ontario in the years before the election, shortly after and later on. They took into account seasonal factors that also are known to affect the sex ratio at birth.

The researchers found the lowest ratio of boys to girls occurred in March 2017, but that the ratio recovered during the following five months.

Here’s the kicker: The ratio drop occurred in politically liberal areas but not in conservative areas.


“This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause,” a BMJ news release pointed out. “And the authors point to some limitations of their research, including not knowing individual women’s politics or whether they thought the election result had contributed to the ‘loss’ of male babies.”


  • Essentia Health is hosting a joint-replacement seminar at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, at Pier B Resort, 800 W. Railroad St. The joint-replacement team will share options for hip and knee care and demonstrate Mako, a robotic arm-assisted surgery. Soup and hot sandwiches will be provided.

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