Smokeless Dire

By Scott LaFee

April 3, 2019 5 min read

E-cigarettes are fueling a rise in the use of tobacco products by young people, says the Centers for Disease Control. A new report finds that, in 2018, 4.9 million middle and high school students reported using a tobacco product in the past month, up from 3.6 million in 2017.

E-cigarettes were actually the only type of tobacco product that saw an uptick in use.

More than 20% of high schoolers and 5% of middle schoolers said they had vaped in the past month.

Just the Yaks, Please

According to The New York Times, the strands of hair on the head of President Donald Trump's wax replica at Madame Tussauds in New York City are a mix of human and yak. His eyebrows come from squirrel.

Get Me That, Stat!

The CDC reports that roughly 15% (37 million) of the U.S. adult population is affected by chronic kidney disease, which means the organs are damaged and can't filter blood the way they should. About 1 in 3 adults with diabetes and 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure are estimated to have CKD. Managing blood sugar and blood pressure levels helps protect the kidneys, but 9 in 10 adults with CKD don't even know they have CKD.

Mark Your Calendar

April is official health awareness month for alcohol, irritable bowel syndrome, autism, child abuse, distracted driving, facial protection, oral cancer, sports eye safety and minority health. Act accordingly.


524: Annual cost, in dollars, of being overweight, if you're a woman.

432: If you're an overweight man.

4,879: Annual cost, in dollars, of being obese, if you're a woman.

2,646: If you're an obese man.

Source: CDC VitalSigns.

Stories for the Waiting Room

Google Translate is supposed to convert text from one language to another, presumably with pretty good accuracy. So how well does it work translating a doctor's written instructions? Researchers used Google to translate 100 sets of emergency discharge instructions. Google Translate was 92% accurate translating from English to Spanish and 81% accurate in English to Chinese.

But in 2% of the Spanish translations and 8% of the Chinese, the researchers said the result had the potential to harm patients. Case in point: A doctor wrote that a patient should "hold the kidney medicine," which translated into Spanish as "keep the medication" and into Chinese as "keep taking."

Doc Talk

Transient lingual papillitis: A single swollen taste bud that feels much, much bigger.

Phobia of the Week

Gephyrophobia: Fear of bridges.

Never Say 'Diet'

The Major League Eating record for tamales is 70 2-ouncers in 10 minutes, held by Darron Breeden. Hero today, gone tamales.


"There's one advantage to being 102. There's no peer pressure." — Comedian Dennis Wolfberg (1946-1994), who was speaking theoretically, as he died at age of 48

Medical History

This week in 1978, Francisco Garcia received patent No. 4,081,909 for "orthodontic pliers." These devices are used to bend alignment wire during all phases of the "Begg orthodontic technique." In other words, the pliers quickly and easily bend the ends of wires away from the cheek and gum, saving patients from mini-impalements.

Ig Nobel Apprised

The Ig Nobel Prizes celebrate achievements that make people laugh and then think — a look at real science that's hard to take seriously and even harder to ignore.

In 2005, the Ig Nobel Prize in medicine went to Gregg A. Miller of Oak Grove, Missouri, for inventing Neuticles — artificial replacement testicles for dogs, which came in multiple sizes and degrees of firmness.

Med School

Q: What part of your body has a head, neck, body and tail?

A: Your pancreas, whose duties include aiding digestion and regulating blood sugar. The pancreas looks a bit like a plump, curled caterpillar. The head is the widest part of the organ. The next is the thin section between the head and body or middle part of the pancreas. The tail is the thin tip at the end.


"My brother was good at pissing people off." — Headstone marking the grave of Cecil O'Dell Eads (1934-1993)

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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