Chewing tobacco banned at Safeco Field

Seattle joined a list of cities around the country that has banned chewing tobacco at Major League baseball games.

Other cities that have banned chewing tobacco at games are Chicago, New York, Boston, Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Additionally, California state law prohibits chewing tobacco use at games in Oakland and San Diego.

This means players and coaches can’t chew it on the field and spectators can’t chew it in the stands.

Major League baseball has been urged to ban chewing tobacco. For some odd reason, chewing tobacco use is rampant among ballplayers. The MLB and the player’s union took a somewhat wimpy approach to the issue, banning tobacco use on the field for all incoming players but grandfathering it in for existing MLB players. Which means, eventually it’ll go away, but for the time being you’re still going to see coaches and players chewing on the field.

Philip Morris stock crashes

Woot! This story made my heart warm. Philip Morris International (a company split off from Altria that focuses specifically on the tobacco market outside of the U.S.) stock dropped 18 percent on April 19, partly because sales of its iQos product — a device that heats a tobacco plug without setting it on fire — has not gone as well as projected.

For the year, PMI stock has dropped 4 percent.

PMI is such a huge player in the tobacco market that its drop affected the stocks of all tobacco companies. British American Tobacco PLC and Imperial Brands PLC dropped 5.4 and 2.9 percent respectively while Altria dropped 7.7 percent.

Oh, ouch, I hope people lose their jobs. I hope CEOs lose their bonuses. I can dream, can’t I?

According to MarketWatch, much of this is tied to the iQos and its performance in Japan. From a MarketWatch article:

Philip Morris and its rivals have spent billions of dollars in recent years to research and market tobacco heating and other new products they believe will help lure existing smokers from conventional cigarettes, whose sales are in decline globally. While tobacco companies have so far been able to offset declining volumes with rising prices, that strategy is seen as having limits, and companies are scaling back investments in traditional tobacco operations.

Japan, where Philip Morris launched IQOS in 2016, is closely watched by investors and public-health researchers as a test case for how reduced-risk products could catch on with consumers. Smoking rates in the country have plummeted after IQOS’s introduction — it has captured 16% of the tobacco market — and Philip Morris has pointed to that success as an indication of what could be achieved elsewhere.

But Thursday, the company warned that once-breakneck sales in Japan had cooled.

“Device sales were slower than our ambitious expectations,” Philip Morris Chief Financial Officer Martin King said on a call with investors. Mr. King warned of a maturing market in Japan, saying Philip Morris had run through early adopters quicker than expected and must win over “the more-conservative consumers, especially the age 50-plus smoker segment which represents approximately 40% of the total adult smoker population.”

I would love to see all these companies go belly-up. I know it won’t happen overnight, but it’s a good sign that the end of Big Tobacco could be in sight.

What the hell is a “Juul”?

This is a “Juul”

Never heard of these things until a couple of weeks ago. I’m still not 100 percent sure what the big deal is about them.

It sounds to be something like Vaal, from the original Star Trek and  reminds of an old SNL skit about some feminine product where the whole point of the skit was “what is it?”

A Juul is apparently a new kind of e-cigarette that looks a hell of a lot like a flash drive for a laptop. And, apparently, in fact, they can be charged by plugging them into a laptop.

Anyway, the New York Times thought it was a big enough deal to do a huge article about them.

Not Vaal, Juul!

From the Times story:

Resembling a flash drive, Juul conveys a sense of industry — you’re Juuling into your MacBook Air while you are cramming for your test on Theodore Dreiser and thinking about trigonometry — and it is so easy to conceal that, as one mother explained to me, she failed to notice that her daughter was vaping in the back seat of the car as she was driving.

It’s basically just the latest “hip” e-cig. And this is one of the issues I have with e-cigs … is they keep trying to pass themselves off as “hip” and the “latest thing.” And kids love stuff that’s “hip” and the “latest thing.”

From the Times story:

The company’s position that Juul is intended strictly for “adult” smokers as its website repeatedly indicates, is belied by the menu of flavors in which the nicotine pods are offered. These include Mango, Cool Mint, Fruit Medley and Creme Brulee. As Anthony Charuvastra, a child psychiatrist and assistant professor at New York University’s Medical Center put it, “Who over 25 is looking for creme brulee as part of a smoking experience?”

Like all modern tech companies that attract tens of millions of dollars in venture capital funding, Juul believes it is doing something globally valuable, acting as “part of the solution to end combustible smoking,’’ as its marketing material proclaims. A “Mission & Values” statement on the company’s website declares that no minor should be in possession of Juul and argues that the company is working to combat underage use. In August, it instituted an age-verification system on its e-commerce site to try and prevent anyone under 21 from buying Juul products.

“James and Adam recognized a groundbreaking opportunity to apply industrial design to the smoking industry, which had not materially evolved in over one hundred years,” the Juul website also declares, indicating how little Silicon Valley can distinguish between what needs to be disrupted and what simply needs to go away.

When asked about Juul’s use by teenagers, the company said in a statement, “We condemn the use of our product by minors. We are fully committed to dramatically reducing the incidence of young people using Juul.”

Yeah, the “we here at Juul are very concerned about teen vaping” sounds pretty lame and vapid (They gave a similar statement to Women’s Health), especially when it sounds EXACTLY like the Tobacco Industry excuses for their products being blatantly marketed to teens for decades. So, colour me seriously unimpressed with the owners of Juul and their milquetoast response about teens using their product.

FDA proposes reducing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes

Got mixed feelings on this one and I definitely need to get more information to have a hard and fast opinion.

The FDA, which under the Trump Administration I seriously no longer trust at all, is taking public comment on its proposal to drop the level of nicotine to “minimally or non-addictive levels.”

Seriously, considering who is the president right now, I’m amazed the FDA is going after Big Tobacco at all. Which makes me paranoid that this is some kind of end run that will end up actually helping Big Tobacco. How, I’m not sure, but I cannot trust this administration. It doesn’t help my paranoia that the tobacco industry is weirdly applauding the measure.

From a Agence French Press article:

“Today’s advance notice is a request for information, not a proposed rule, and is the first step in a multi-year process that will require the agency to examine and resolve many complex issues,” said Murray Garnick, executive vice president and general counsel of Altria Group, Inc., which includes tobacco giant Philip Morris.

“As FDA has acknowledged, any proposed nicotine standard would need to be part of a comprehensive package,” he added.

“Altria has already been preparing for any reasonable potential standard, and we plan to participate in every step of this process.”

I’d feel more comfortable if the industry was openly freaking out about this.

Anyway, without getting into conspiracy theories, right off the bat,   I have two thoughts.

If you simply reduce the level of nicotine, won’t that prompt smokers to smoke more in order to get the same level of nicotine they got prior? Remember, these are people already addicted to nicotine. I have no science to back this up, it’s just a thought on my part.

I CAN see a benefit that lowering nicotine drastically will make it much more difficult for young smokers to get addicted to nicotine to begin with.

There is some science to back up this point.

From a the Agence French Press article:

“We’re taking a pivotal step today that could ultimately bring us closer to our vision of a world where combustible cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction -– making it harder for future generations to become addicted in the first place and allowing more currently addicted smokers to quit or switch to potentially less harmful products,” said FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

A study released Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine projected that cutting nicotine to a non-addictive level could mean five million fewer smokers in the first year of implementation.

Within five years, another eight million fewer people would smoke, and by 2060, the smoking rate in the United States could drop to 1.4 percent, down from its present level of 15 percent, said the report.

Anyway, interesting times. I will definitely keep an eye on how this turns out. I expect it will be a while and I expect Trump will be long gone before it comes to any fruition.

Study: Cancerous chemicals found in e-cigarettes

Another negative study about e-cigs.

This one is from the University of California, San Francisco (one of the leading anti-tobacco schools in the nation). It found that vapour from e-cigarettes not only contain carcinogenic chemicals, it also found that sweet, fruity-flavoured e-cig flavours are the worst for delivering carcinogenic chemicals into the lung.

These chemicals do not show up in the “ingredients” of e-cigarettes.

From an NBC story:

The chemicals are not listed on the ingredients of the vape liquid. They’re found under the catch-all description of “flavorings”, the researchers said.

Dr. Mark Rubinstein, of UCSF’s Division of Adolescent Medicine, and colleagues tested 67 teenagers who vape and compared them to 16 teens who both vape and smoke tobacco cigarettes and to 20 teens who do not use either type of cigarette.

They tested their urine and saliva and asked questions about cigarette use.

Those who used both types of cigarette had significantly higher levels of dangerous chemicals, including acrylonitrile, acrolein, propylene oxide, acrylamide and crotonaldehyde, the team reported. And those who used only e-cigarettes had much higher levels than those who used neither product.

“Among our e-cigarette–only participants, the use of fruit-flavored products produced significantly higher levels of the metabolites of acrylonitrile,” they wrote.

Glycerin and other flavorings in both tobacco and e-cigarettes can react with one another or break down into the potentially harmful chemicals.

“Acrylonitrile is a highly poisonous compound used widely in the manufacture of plastics, adhesives and synthetic rubber,” the National Center for Biotechnology Information says on its website.

Acrolein “is toxic to humans following inhalation, oral or dermal exposure,” the Environmental Protection Agency says. Some studies show it can play a part in bringing about lung cancer, although the EPA says there is not enough data to show whether it causes cancer in people.

Propylene oxide and crotonaldeyde are probable carcinogens, the EPA says, while acrylamide’s role in causing cancer is more controversial.

 This is just the latest in countless studies showing that e-cigarettes are — at BEST — not completely benign and really should be avoided by teens … and more should be done to dissuade teens from using them. They might be better than cigarettes, and might be a viable option for a smoker to quit cigarettes, but they should not be used by teens as an alternative delivery system for addictive nicotine. The best choice is to simply avoid nicotine in any form … period.

Another nail in the coffin on the idea that e-cigs are completely safe. Again, I’m a bit ambivalent on e-cigs, but it does bother me — a lot — to see them pretty blatantly marketed to teenagers. Like Medical News Today states … teenagers should not be using e-cigarettes at all.

 

 

 

India’s Supreme Court backs warning labels on cigarettes

Here is a story for our readers from India.

This is a big confusing. I had to read the story carefully three times to make sure I was understanding it correctly.

The Supreme Court of India last week set aside a lower court that had quashed the nation’s rule that cigarette packs must contain graphic warnings.

The rules changed a requirement that 20 percent of the cigarette packs surface must contain health warnings against cigarettes to 85 percent of the surface. A big change.

In essence, a bad ruling for the tobacco industry in India.

From a Reuters story:

The Supreme Court, which heard petitions brought forward by tobacco-control activists, stayed the Karnataka court’s order on Monday, citing the need to protect the health of citizens.

“Health of a citizen has primacy and he or she should be aware of that which can affect or deteriorate the condition of health,” the Supreme Court said in its 13-page order.

“Deterioration may be a milder word and, therefore, in all possibility the expression ‘destruction of health’ is apposite.”

The court’s decision comes as a relief for health advocates and federal health ministry who say bigger health warnings deter tobacco consumption. More than 900,000 people die each year in India due to tobacco-related illnesses, the government estimates.

I liked this part of the story most:

The court’s decision is a blow to cigarette makers such as India’s ITC Ltd and Philip Morris International Inc’s Indian partner, Godfrey Phillips India Ltd, whose representatives call the rules extreme. In protest at the health warning measures, the industry briefly shut its factories across the country in 2016 and filed dozens of legal cases.

Awwww, poor babies. Nothing warms the cockles of my heart more than the thought of tobacco executives POUTING. Especially Philip Morris International. They have been aggressively fighting warning labels on cigarettes worldwide.

Cigarette pack in India with new warnings.

This is not the end of the case. The Supreme Court essentially just stayed the lower court’s decision. The case will continue to be heard by the courts in March.

However, it appears some tobacco companies in India are already complying with the Supreme Court decision and are putting the 85 percent warnings on their cigarette packs.

 

Several recent studies put e-cigs in a bad light

Close up of inhaling from an electronic cigarette.

Not one, not two, but three recent studies make it seem that e-cigs are not as benign as the c-cig industry (and e-cig professional shill Michael Siegel, who surprisingly has not offered a rebuttal yet … I’m sure he’s still collating) would have you believe.

One study states that e-cigarettes increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. Another study states that e-cigs increase cigarette use among teens. And the third suggests that e-cigs increase the risk of pneumonia.

I’m sure at some point Michael Siegel, professional e-cig shill, will explain in painfully excruciating and mind-numbing detail why every single one of these studies is bullshit.

Anyway … enough about him. Let’s go one by one on these studies.

The first study, from  New York University, suggests that vaping increases the risk of cancer and heart disease by damaging DNA.

From a Washington News Square article:

An NYU School of Medicine’s study, lead by Dr. Moon-Shong Tang, a professor at the Department of Environmental Medicine and Pathology, found evidence to suggest a link between e-cigarette smoking and increased risk of heart disease and cancer. According to the researchers, these risks may also apply to second hand smoke.

The study exposed laboratory mice to electronic cigarette vapor for 12 weeks. The dose and duration of nicotine exposure in the study, however, was equivalent to 10 years of light e-cigarette smoking in humans. The researchers used their tests to conclude that e-cigarettes can cause DNA damage and may reduce repair activity in the lungs, bladder and heart — all of which could increase the risk of cancer and heart diseases in smoker.

“For us, it’s unambiguous,” Tang said. “The only thing I can conclude is that vaping is harmful, not only to yourself but to bystanders as well, […] because it has the same effect as smoking, maybe less but they also breathe nicotine.”

Dr. Hyun-Wook Lee, an associate research scientist of Tang Lab at NYU Environmental Medicine, said the team is exploring the effects of aldehyde, a carcinogen substance present in e-cigarette vaping.

“Surprisingly, these aldehydes can all [be] involved in gene damage from the occasional smoking or e-cigarette smoking,”  Lee said.

The second study suggests that vaping gets teens hooked on nicotine and could lead to more teens smoking to get their nicotine fix.

From a New York Times article:

The (National Academy of Sciences) panel found evidence among studies it reviewed that vaping may prompt teenagers or young adults to try regular cigarettes, putting them at higher risk for addiction, but that any significant linkage between e-cigarettes and long-term smoking has not been established. It said it was unable to determine whether young people were just trying cigarettes or becoming habitual smokers.

“When it got down to answering the questions about what the impacts on health are, there is still a lot to be learned,” said David Eaton, of the University of Washington, who led the committee that reviewed existing research and issued the report. “E-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful.”

Adam Leventhal, a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California, and an author of the report, said his group did an exhaustive literature search, reviewing all studies on youths and e-cigarette use from around the world. Of those, 10 studies were deemed strong enough to address the question. But they did not show that using e-cigarettes caused teens to move on to tobacco, only that the use of e-cigarettes was associated with later smoking of at least one traditional cigarette. The report noted that more than 11 percent of all high school students — nearly 1.7 million youths — reported using e-cigarettes within the past month.

“The evidence was substantial that this association was consistent across a number of research methodologies, age ranges, locations, and research groups in and outside the U.S.,” Mr. Leventhal said.

This conclusion is at odds with the findings of the British Royal College of Physicians, which asserts that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking.

“Concerns about e-cigarettes helping to recruit a new generation of tobacco smokers through a gateway effect are, at least to date, unfounded,” the organization notes on its website.

More intriguing was the newest report’s finding of moderate evidence that youths who use e-cigarettes before trying tobacco are more likely to become more frequent and intense smokers.

To be fair, the study also states that vaping is safer than cigarettes. My view has always been … it doesn’t matter whether the delivery system is an e-cig or a cigarette, any addiction to nicotine by definition is a bad thing.

The third study, which just came out today from Queen Mary University in London, suggests a link between vaping and pneumonia. This occurs because vaping makes it easier for the bacteria that cause

From a Daily Mirror article:

Professor Aras Kadioglu, of Liverpool University, and his team then tested the effect of e-cigarette vapour in mice.

They found that inhaled exposure to e-cigarette vapour also increased levels of PAFR (a molecule) on airway lining cells and increased the number of pneumococcal bacteria in the respiratory tract after infection, making mice more susceptible to disease.

The team then studied PAFR levels in cells lining the nose of 17 people. Of these, 10 were regular users of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, one used nicotine-free e-cigarettes, and six were not vapers.

First, PAFR levels in the airways of all 17 volunteers were measured. Then, vapers were asked to take at least 10 puffs on their e-cigarettes over five minutes. One hour after vaping, PAFR levels on airway cells increased three-fold.

Prof Jonathan Grigg, of Queen Mary University of London, said: “Together, these results suggest that vaping makes the airways more vulnerable to bacteria sticking to airway lining cells.

“If this occurs when a vaper gets exposed to the pneumococcal bacterium, this could increase the risk of infection.”

He added: “Some people may be vaping because they think it is totally safe, or in an attempt to quit smoking, but this study adds to growing evidence that inhaling vapour has the potential to cause adverse health effects.

“By contrast, other aids to quitting such as patches or gum do not result in airway cells being exposed to high concentrations of potentially toxic compounds.”

I continue to be kind of ambivalent about e-cigs. They seem to genuinely help some people quit cigarettes, and while they don’t appear to be 100 percent benign and harmless, if they less harmful than cigarettes, than that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, it IS a bad thing that so many kids are getting addicted to nicotine via e-cigs and that e-cig companies are being incredibly blatant about marketing to teens.

Imagine Dragons singer in anti-tobacco ad aired during Grammys

I’m not a huge Imagine Dragons fan, but I don’t dislike the few songs of there’s that I’ve heard (hey, I’m not totally square, daddy-o), but this made me like them a lot more than before.

The Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds did a PSA aired during the Grammys against tobacco. Reynolds’ plays a small cameo in the ad which points out that Big Tobacco very much targets lower-income people to addict. And it is a fact that lower income people smoke more than higher income.

Dan is quoted in this Billboard article that one of the reasons he got involved is that he has seen that tobacco along with other drugs (and make no mistake tobacco IS a drug) is too entrenched in the music industry.

From the article:

“They’re (the tobacco industry) taking someone who is already set up to have a difficult life ahead of them, and putting them back even 10 steps further. It’s just heartless,” Reynolds said during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 24). ‘

“I grew up worshiping Bob Marley and Kurt Cobain and the posters were all over my walls, and I feel like a lot of these musicians who’ve passed on, I can’t speak on their behalf, but I think a lot of them if they could…would do all that they could to change the face of this industry as one of substance abuse,” Reynolds said. “I’m down for everything else with rock and roll — the spirit of it, the sex of it, I love everything about [it], except the drug use. And cigarettes seem to go hand in hand with rock and roll aesthetically, and this needs to change. This needs to stop.”

Anyway, here is the ad:

 

CDC Director resigns over ties to tobacco industry stocks

ATLANTA, GA – DECEMBER, 5:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald is photographed at the agency’s headquarters in Atlanta, GA on Tuesday, December 5, 2017. (Photo by Melissa Golden for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Wow, this one really takes the cake. I would say, “even for Trump,” but frankly, no, there doesn’t seem to be a bottom to the Trump sewer.

This kind of got buried by all the other never-ending scandals with the Trump Administration, but it’s a pretty good scandal … and pretty typical for a Trump appointee.

It turns out the head of the Centers of Disease Control, Branda Fitzgerald, traded tobacco stocks — specifically Japan Tobacco  stocks — AFTER being appointed head of the  CDC.

Keep in mind, one of the major roles of the CDC is tobacco control and tobacco education. And you have the head of that agency actually trading in tobacco company stock. If that isn’t bad enough, Fitzgerald also traded in RJ Reynolds, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International and Altria Group before being appointed head of CDC. She’s involved up to her neck in Big Tobacco.

A quote from a  New York Times article (which frankly bent over backward to be fair to Fitzgerald, more than she likely deserved):

“The tobacco-related investments alarmed others. “It’s astonishing that the director of the Centers for Disease Control, which plays a major role in reducing tobacco use, would purchase stock in a tobacco company,” said William B. Schultz, a former general counsel for H.H.S.”

Hah, get this. This is what a sleaze this Fitzgerald was. She is supposedly an advocate for fighting childhood obesity,  but she once took a $1 million payout from Coca-Cola for her childhood obesity campaign. When sugary drinks are one of the biggest causes of childhood obesity.

From the New York Times overly fair article:

As the state’s public health chief, Dr. Fitzgerald made fighting childhood obesity one of her highest priorities. But she drew criticism from public health officials for accepting $1 million from Coca-Cola to pay for the effort. Her program drew heavily from the soda giant’s playbook, emphasizing Coke’s contention that exercise — rather than calorie control — is key to weight loss.

This is no different than Philip Morris financing anti-smoking campaigns, when they spend millions around the world finding ways to get kids hooked to cigarettes.

Are you kidding me? Not only has this sleaze owned tobacco stock for years and was trading in tobacco stock after she was appointed head of the CDC, she also takes money from Coca-Cola for an anti-obesity program?

What’s scary is this is pretty outrageous, but at the moment, this barely get a blip on the Trump outrage metre.

Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control

The good news that the acting director of the CDC is well-liked and seems to be good at her job and below the radar for the time being of the Trump Administration’s pro-corporate agenda:

From a Washington Post article:

When the notice finally went out on the CDC’s internal announcement board that the principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, 58, with nearly three decades of CDC experience, would be taking over (again) as acting director, employees were very happy to hear the news.

“Yes! There is palpable relief that she’s back in charge,” said one analyst who did not want to be identified for obvious reasons. “You’d have joyous celebration if they made her permanent director.”

Early Thursday, Schuchat sent a “Dear Colleagues” email to staff thanking them for their work.

“It is an honor to provide leadership for our nation’s premier public health agency, and all of you, in this role. Please know that I take this responsibility very seriously and care tremendously about our continued excellence and strength,” she wrote.

Cancer rate keeps dropping

According to information from the American Cancer Society, the  cancer rate 2015 dropped 1.7 percent.

While that may not sound like a big number, first, it’s part of a long-term trend in which the mortality rate for cancer has dropped 26 percent  over the past 25 years (which translates into 2.4 million fewer deaths).

And the biggest reasonf for the drop? According to this Washington Post article:

Cancer Statistics 2018, the organization’s annual look at incidence, mortality and survival, tracks the decades-long decline in mortality as driven largely by falling death rates among four malignancies — lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.  Ahmedin Jemal, the group’s vice president for surveillance and health services research, said the decreases largely reflect reduced smoking and advances in prevention, early detection and treatment.

Overall, the cancer death rate has dropped from 215.1 per 100,000 population in 1991 to 158.6 per 100,000 in 2015.

Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said in a statement that the report underscores the importance of continued efforts to discourage tobacco use. While the reduction in cigarette smoking has pushed down mortality rates, “tobacco remains by far the leading cause of cancer deaths today, responsible for nearly 3 in 10 cancer deaths.”

That number is a huge drop — 215.1 per 100,000 to 158.6 per 100,000. Roughly a 36 percent drop. Why? SMOKING has dropped.

The smoking rate in 1991 … about 25 percent. The smoking rate in 2015 … about 17 percent.

The news isn’t all good. Lung cancer remains by far the No. 1 cancer killer.  For men in 2015, 83,000 of all cancer deaths were from lung cancer, out of 323,000 cancer deaths (about 26 percent).

Among women, 70,500 of all cancer deaths were from lung caner, out of 286,000 cancer deaths (about 24.5 percent).

The next highest cancers? For men, it’s prostate cancer at 29,000 and for women it’s breast cancer at 41,000. So lung cancer for men and women combined kill considerably more than twice as many people as prostate cancer and breast cancer combined.