Birds in or near urban areas have long been known to augment their nests with found materials — from plastic bags and foil to electrical cables and cigarette butts. Though it’s hard not to see this as a depressing visual reminder of litter and sprawl, recent research has proven that cigarette butts in nests serve a remedial purpose not only for birds but for people, too.

Last year, a group of scientists led by Monserrat Suárez-Rodríguez and Constantino Macías Garcia of the National Autonomous University of Mexico found that birds were not only weaving smoked, torn-up cigarette butts into their nests to repel parasitic ticks, but they were doing it intentionally.

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[DIGEST: Huffington Post, CNN]

California has passed legislation raising the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21. The legislation is part of a larger series of anti-smoking measures banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone under age. In addition, electronic cigarettes will face regulations not unlike those imposed on traditional cigarettes and will be prohibited wherever traditional smoking is banned. Companies that violate the law will face a $5,000 fine.

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