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Higher cigarette taxes can bring complications, but also new opportunities

Higher cigarette taxes can bring complications, but also new opportunities

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Raising taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products is often considered a way to reduce smoking and improve public health, but according to a new study in part from Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, evidence of effectiveness is sparse.

As stated in the abstract, "the association between cigarette taxes and either smoking participation or smoking intensity is negative, small, and not usually statistically significant," and that large tax increases would be needed -- as much as 100 percent -- to reduce smoking by a mere 5 percent.

Blood donors treated to a free movie and popcorn

Blood donors treated to a free movie and popcorn

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—They aren’t all on the big screen.

Michigan Blood is getting ready to reward life-saving superheroes right here in the Grand Rapids community. The organization is teaming up with Celebration Cinema to offer a free movie pass and a bag of popcorn to each to person who attempts to donate blood during the holidays.

Michigan Blood needs to collect more than 2,200 units of blood every week to supply patients and hospitals around the state.  Donations traditionally drop around the holidays as people travel.

Days and times for the “Be a Star” donation deal vary around the state.  To find the location near you, visit the Michigan Blood website here.  In Grand Rapids, the following donation drives will take place in Michigan Blood’s Main Donor Center at 1036 Fuller Ave. NE:

Ambulance Consortium to include at least six communities

Ambulance Consortium to include at least six communities

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—   The new Ambulance Consortium in Kent County is growing.

Grand Rapids, Grandville, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming and Rockford have already voted to form the consortium.  Plainfield Township is also considering joining.

The Ambulance Consortium would establish across-the-board ambulance service standards for all communities involved, through contracts. East Grand Rapids City Manager Brian Donovan says communities that are part of the consortium will create an oversight group which will make sure all ambulance companies are abiding by contractual standards. By consolidating regulation, each community will save staff time and money.

Kent County communities have been working on the partnership since 2010.  

Vote for your favorite executive 'stache

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich.—November is coming to an end which means the ‘staches are coming off!

Five executives from West Michigan have been growing mustaches for Movember, a month-long campaign to “change the face of men’s health” by raising awareness of health risks.   The men have been posting their progress on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s Facebook page.    The final mustache photos will be posted on the Facebook page on December 2 for a public vote.  Visitors can pick their top two favorite ‘staches by “liking” the appropriate photos.  The vote runs from 11 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.  Tuesday.

This year’s participants are:

Health Department offers free HIV/AIDS testing

Health Department offers free HIV/AIDS testing

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.--  More than one million Americans are living with HIV, and many may not even know it.

In honor of World AIDS Day, the Kent County Health Department is offering free AIDS testing at four of its facilities, no appointment needed.  The finger poke test takes about 20 minutes for results, which are confidential.  Those who get tested will receive a gift card (while supplies last) and additional information about HIV.

Testing times and locations:

East Grand Rapids to join group setting ambulance standards

East Grand Rapids to join group setting ambulance standards

EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—The standards for ambulances running in East Grand Rapids may soon change.

During its regular meeting Monday night, the city commission approved joining an ambulance consortium with other Kent County communities.  The consortium would establish across-the-board ambulance service standards for all communities involved, through contracts. East Grand Rapids currently works with AMR Ambulance, but the city does not have a contract with the company. 

City Manager Brian Donovan says communities that are part of the consortium will create an oversight group which will make sure all ambulance companies are abiding by contractual standards. By consolidating regulation, each community will save staff time and money.

Gymco gives kids a leg up on building healthy bodies, strong minds

Gymco gives kids a leg up on building healthy bodies, strong minds

By Chealsea Slocum
Photography by Adam Bird