The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids put out an interesting report last week about the various additives tobacco companies are putting into cigarettes today to make them more addictive and hence more deadly. According to this graphic from CTFK, there’s a number of things the tobacco industry has done over the past 50 years to make cigarettes more addictive. I’ve read all about how the tobacco industry has been known for manipulating the level of nicotine in cigarettes. (Something the tobacco industry continues to deny) Anyway, here is an interesting infographic. The various ways the industry increases the intake of nicotine:
Increased Nicotine: Tobacco companies precisely control the delivery and amount of nicotine to create and sustain addiction.
Bronchodilators: These added chemicals expand the lungs’ airways, making it easier for tobacco smoke to pass into the lungs.
Levulinic Acid: Added organic acid salts, like levulinic acid, reduce the harshness of nicotine and make the smoke smoother and less irritating.
Menthol: Menthol cools and numbs the throat to reduce irritation and make the smoke feel smoother.
Sugars and Acetaldehyde: Added sugars make tobacco smoke easier to inhale and, when burned in cigarettes, form acetaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical that enhances nicotine’s addictive effects.
Ammonia: Added ammonia compounds produce higher levels of “freebase” nicotine and increase the speed with which nicotine hits the brain.
“Most people would think that 50 years after we learned that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, cigarettes would be safer. What’s shocking about the report we issued today is that we’ve found that a smoker today has more than twice the risk of lung cancer than a smoker fifty years ago, as a direct result of design changes made by the industry,” Matt Myers, the president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in an interview with ThinkProgress.
(One note about the Matt Myers quote. I would disagree with one aspect of his comment. A two- to three-pack-a-day smoker was not uncommon 50 years ago, and that’s almost unheard of today with the breadth of smoking bans, so smokers are not smoking nearly as much as they did 50 years ago. But, his point is taken.) Pretty chilling stuff. The industry has done everything in its power to try and make cigarettes more physically addictive to keep their customers until death do them part.
I reported on this a few weeks ago — a story about migrant kids as young as 12 working in tobacco fields, some of them getting sick from constant exposure to nicotine.
The Daily Show skewers a real dirtbag Republican state senator and tobacco farmer defending kids spending 12 hours a day in his tobacco fields picking in 100-degree weather. Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee does an absolutely ferocious report, skewering a Kentucky tobacco farmer (I hope this guy never lives it down).
And, just in case YouTube takes it down … which they will eventually. A link:
You can’t make this stuff up. I couldn’t figure out initially if this POS was for real or satire, but, incredibly, he appears to be for real. His name is Paul Hornback. A real douchebag … or playing one on TV:
“You got long days. It’s in the heat, it’s out there in the sun. It might be 100 degrees. But that’s not bad. You got lots of places to get shade.”
All kids complain about work! Our society is becoming too soft. You might see a 10-year-old picking tobacco, but you won’t see him out there all day.”
“Acute nicotine poisoning is not that big of a deal. It’s no different from having a virus.
A second, more high-profile player has announced he is quitting chew because of the death from cancer of Tony Gwynn. Stephen Strasburg, star pitcher for the Washington Nationals announced this week he is also quitting chew.
Tony Gwynn, a lifelong chewer, died last week of salivary gland cancer, which prompted the call from numerous people for MLB to ban chewing tobacco on the field. Chew on the field is banned in college and the minor leagues, but the Players’ Association won’t allow MLB to ban it at the highest level. For some mystifying reason that I don’t understand, chew seems to be a big part of baseball culture.
Gwynn, who was only 54 when he died, blamed his chewing on his cancer (the cancer showed up on the same side of the mouth as where he always chewed). Strasburg (like Addison Reed, who also announced this week he will quit chew) played for Tony Gwynn when he was a star at San Diego State University.
According to MLB:
“I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it,” the Nationals right-hander said on Monday. “I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction. … Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life. [Chewing tobacco is] so prevalent in this game. It’s something we all kind of grew up doing.”
Congrats to Stephen and I wish him luck in quitting.
I was pleasantly surprised to watch this 5-minute, emotional rant from Keith Olbermann on his ESPN show calling for an end to chewing tobacco on the field of baseball. I was surprised that this was something Olbermann felt so strongly about (and it really made me miss him from his MSNBC days — this is what Keith should be doing, not sports highlights).
Olbermann, who broke down crying talking about Tony Gwynn earlier in the week, takes on the MLB Players’ Association for refusing to budge on chewing tobacco (“they are completely, utterly, indefensibly wrong,” Olbermann said.) BTW, MLB actually wants to ban it. He also takes on denialists who claim that Gwynn’s cancer had nothing to do with his chewing. (I saw one of these denialists ranting online last week myself, quoting some sketchy medical group that turns out is consistently pro-industry and pro-corporation.)
And this earlier piece by Olbermann, remembering Tony Gwynn. Hopefully, YouTube doesn’t take these videos down, but they might:
Anyway, it’s a pretty devastating coincidence that the salivary gland cancer formed in the cheek where Gwynn always put in his chew for 30 years). Like Olbermann points out, doctors 50 years ago insisted there was no link between smoking cigarettes and lung cancer.
OK, this is a struggle to transcribe this, but here is the best part of his rant, taking on the denialists:
“So one of the holier-than-thou medical groups can’t whine that we’re using scare tactics, let’s just assume that Tony Gwynn did not die by using chewing tobacco on the right side of his mouth and that the cancer of the salivary glands … on the right side of his mouth … was just a coincidence, and the cancer was caused by one of the ‘recognized’ risk factors like exposure to extreme radiation or working in asbestos mining, because we all remember those seasons Tony Gwynn skipped baseball to go work mining asbestos … with the right side of his mouth.”
Olbermann details the sordid history of tobacco advertising and sports, including baseball, and the more recent history of chewing tobacco advertising and sports. He also talks about how 40 years ago, baseball banned cigarette smoking on the field, but continues to lag on chew.
Part of the reason Olbermann feels so strongly about chew is years ago, he used to smoke pipes and cigars, believing that he it was safer than smoking cigarettes — that was until doctors found a growth in the roof of his mouth that had to be removed by a laser.
“I get it, I’ve been ‘it,’ ” Olbermann said, in response to people struggling to quit tobacco.
“Get it off the field. Cheat if you must in the clubhouses. Get it off the field. Get it off the field now. Get it off the field tomorrow. Get it off the field for Tony Gwynn.”
After the news that Tony Gwynn died of salivary gland cancer, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Addison Reed announced he is quitting chewing tobacco.
Reed, who played for Gwynn at San Diego State, said he threw away seven cans of chew out of his locked and two more out of his car after he learned of Gwynn’s death.
“It’s one of those things where I’ve done it for so long it’s just become a habit, a really bad habit,” Reed said Saturday. “It was something I always told myself I would quit, like next month, and the next thing you know it’s been six or seven years.”
Reed said he began chewing as a junior in high school. But, he started chewing in earnest when he became a professional ballplayer.
“It started to get bad my first year in pro ball and it’s one of those things where I’ve always done it,” Reed said. “I’d come to the field and throw one in and have multiple ones. I’d have one on the ride home, one on the way to the field and it was one of those things where I always had one with me.”
Let’s hope a bunch more ballplayers follow Reed’s lead. Chew is a bizarre habit that for some mysterious reason has somehow become deeply ingrained in the culture of baseball and it’s time to break that culture. Chew is already banned on the field in college baseball and minor league baseball, but the Player’s Association is resisting calls to ban it on the field in MLB.
Jim Caple, writer for ESPN and the Chicago Sun-Times both published editorials this week calling for baseball to ban chew in the wake of Tony Gwynn’s death from cancer. Gwynn, a lifelong chewer, died this week of salivary gland cancer (which originated in the cheek in which he always chewed and he blamed chewing for his cancer.). Gwynn was very outspoken in warning about the dangers of chew in the last couple years of his life.
Like smoking, chewing tobacco is a revolting, addictive and harmful habit. We are repeatedly warned against both; and yet, people still use both. I do not understand why somebody starts smoking — the warnings are so explicit and the cost of cigarettes is so high – but maybe it’s because his or her friends are doing it. That’s definitely the case with ballplayers and chewing. Players have been chewing in baseball since before there was organ music.
The only way to stop them from doing so is to ban it from the game.
Baseball already has banned chewing tobacco at the minor league level. There are restrictions on it at the major league level as well, but the players union has stubbornly resisted banning its use on the field. And as long as they can use it on the field, they will never stop chewing and spitting and risking their health.
Yes, ballplayers are adults with the same rights as everyone else, but they also are role models who already accept various limitations in exchange for the considerable financial rewards they receive. The use of tobacco in all forms on the field or anywhere in the stadium should be one of these limitations. Tobacco might be a legal substance for adults, but that shouldn’t stop baseball from banning it. Marijuana, for example, has been legalized in Washington and Colorado, but MLB does not allow players to use it when in Seattle or Denver — or anywhere else for that matter.
If amphetamines are banned, then why does MLB allow a substance with known carcinogens that provides players with a “buzz?” If we are so caught up with eliminating performance enhancing drugs from the game, we should be equally passionate about banning health-diminishing products as well.
Gwynn was a wonderful man. The best way to honor him is to eliminate the very thing that killed him. Let’s get rid of chewing tobacco so that no other player suffers and dies as Tony did.
The tobacco tin may be carefully stowed away, but when Major League Baseball players head out to the field there’s no mistaking a cheek bulging with chaw.
In honor of Tony Gwynn, it’s time to end the charade.
MLB players can honor Gwynn — a Hall-of-Fame baseball player and long-time snuff user who died Monday at age 54 after battling salivary gland cancer — by agreeing to ban all smokeless tobacco products on the field.
MLB currently requires players only to keep the tins out of sight during play and prohibits dipping or chewing during interviews.
What a joke.
To make a real impact — to set an example for the millions of kids and young adults who watch professional baseball and idolize ball players — the league should do everything it can to rid itself of this filthy and deadly habit.
But setting the tone from the top that chewing tobacco isn’t welcome on major league ball fields can send a powerful message.
Gwynn got the ball rolling by speaking honestly about what he believed caused his illness.
“Gwynn did something very important; he said early on in his diagnosis that he’d used chewing tobacco and was 99 percent sure that’s how he got it,” said Brian Hill, founder of the Oral Cancer Foundation and an oral cancer survivor. “He was very open about it.
“When our heroes show us they’re vulnerable,” Hill predicted, “they change the world.”
In Gwynn’s honor, we can only hope.
In addition, Dan Shaughnessy with the Boston Globe wrote a column about chew and Tony Gwynn’s death and get this “whistling past the graveyard” quote from Clay Buchholz:
“Cancer runs in my family,’’ said Buchholz, as he sat in front of his locker with a wad of smokeless tobacco wedged between his lower lip and gums. “There’s been people that have never smoked a cigarette or had a dip or chew and they’ve died of lung cancer.
Clay — 85 percent of the people who get lung cancer smoke or smoked. 75 percent of the people who get oral cancer either chew or smoke. So, keep whistling by that graveyard.
At least Dustin Pedroia was a little more contrite:
“I’m trying to stop,’’ said Pedroia. “It’s not a good habit. It’s one of those things, you try like heck. I wish I had never started.
“Everyone crushes me about it. You don’t want any kid to start doing it. Obviously, it’s addicting. It’s not good for you and can cause a lot of problems.
“You try the best you can to stop or not start it. It’s like any bad habit. People do things that aren’t good for you. A lot of things can hurt yourself, whether it’s drinking or tobacco. It’s hard to stop. I’ve stopped a few times and started back up. But I’ve cut back a lot.’’
Cleveland manager Terry Francona once made a high-profile bet to stop using chew. He couldn’t do it.
Former Sox manager Terry Francona keeps several canisters of his favorite chew (Lancaster) within reach whenever he is in uniform.
“It’s the weirdest thing with that,’’ Francona said last week at Fenway. “It’s only when I’m in uniform. The whole year I was out of the dugout, I never used it. Never felt like I wanted it. Never had an urge.
“It’s the same every offseason. I take the uniform off in October and I never think about it. But as soon as I get to spring training and get in uniform, I’m asking myself, ‘Where’s the chew?’ ’’
In 2009, Francona lost a $20,000 bet with Sox CEO Larry Lucchino. The Sox boss (a two-time cancer survivor) wanted to see whether his manager could quit chewing, and Francona barely made it through the first month of the season. Sox players and coaches noted that their manager was unusually agitated.
“I couldn’t make it without the stuff,’’ said Francona. “Nobody wanted to be around me. My coaches and players were telling me to just pay up. Finally, I snapped at a NESN cameraman during a rain delay and I yelled for the clubbie to get me some [expletive] Lancaster.
“Later that day, I wrote a check for $20,000 to Children’s Hospital and I left Larry a phone message telling him that I lost.’’
Former Major League star Tony Gwynn died today of oral cancer at the age of 54. Sad, sad, sad, still a young man, an incredible, underrated hitter (underrated because he played for the San Diego Padres).
Several months ago, I wrote about Tony’s battle with cancer and how he blamed his years of chewing tobacco for his cancer. He had been fighting oral cancer off and on since 2010 after 30 years or so of chewing tobacco.
All I can do is quote this outstanding blog piece by Gabe Costa:
As a baseball player myself, I can say that I have tried chewing tobacco. While it made me sick to my stomach, for other young ball players it is as a part of the game as it was for Gwynn. Whether, it is peer pressure or the mystique that “the big leaguers do it”, I have witnessed kids all from ages 14 and up throw in a “dip” while playing baseball. Recently, organized baseball has started taking a stand against the use of chewing tobacco. Currently, chewing tobacco is banned in NCAA baseball as well as the U.S. minor leagues. At the heart of these bans lies the proven danger that tobacco creates for the body. While the biological correlations between cancer and tobacco are outside the scope of this article, one cannot deny that there is a link between repeated tobacco use and cancer and other serious health issues.
For Tony Gwynn, his repeated use of chewing tobacco during his twenty year career has caused his recent struggles with mouth cancer. Starting in 2010, Gwynn has fought multiple bouts with oral cancer. In addition to weeks and weeks of radiation therapy Gwynn had multiple tumor removing surgeries that left the right side of his face motionless. Unfortunately, his cancer has returned once again. Despite his previous successful surgeries, Gwynn will once again enter the operating room to remove another cancerous tumor from his mouth. As a lifelong Padres fan, Gwynn has always been a symbol of success for the San Diego area. As the current coach of the San Diego State Aztecs, he will once again have to place baseball aside to focus on a fight with this dreaded disease. Gwynn in recent years, even despite his physical and mental pain, has taken his experiences in baseball and his addiction to chewing tobacco and decided to push for a change in Major League Baseball. With the help of many well known ex-baseball players, the discussion is now open on whether to ban chewing tobacco or not throughout Major League Baseball. Yet, despite the new found movement to end the use of tobacco in Major League Baseball, the players union has stood firm to their position of protecting a player’s right to chew tobacco.
I couldn’t have written it any better.
It’s a tragedy, still a young man, a legendary talent (he hit an incredible .338 for his career, hit over .350 seven times, hit an unbelievable .394 one year, won 8 batting titles and did this while playing much of his career 20 to 30 pounds overweight — he was not the world’s best athlete). After retirement, he went on to become the head coach at San Diego State University. Tony tried to get the word out about the dangers of chew; it was too late for him, but not for others. Baseball has banned chew at the minor league level, but refuses to do it at the Major League level (and yet they have banned smoking cigarettes in dugouts, go figure. That’s just how weirdly ingrained chew is in the baseball culture). You can’t stop guys from chewing if they really want to, but every chewer needs to be reminded of the story of Tony Gwynn.
Sobering story from Time magazine: The e-cig industry has won the regulatory battle.
Sobering because of two main reasons: There will be no FDA control over sugary, fruity flavourings for e-cigs and there will be no FDA control over e-cig marketing.
A couple of months ago, the FDA issued its draft regulations for e-cigs. It was a mixed bag. Fortunately, the FDA came right out and banned e-cig sales to minors (but did not ban Internet sales of e-cigs), but completely steered away from trying to control the marketing of e-cigs.
This was a big disappointment, because it’s become pretty obvious that e-cig companies (which are increasingly becoming cigarette companies) are marketing aggressively to young people, using sexy and “come hither” imagery, just like tobacco companies have done since Kingdom Come.
Time magazine jumped on the story, saying the proposed FDA regs were a big win for the e-cig industry, especially over the marketing of e-cigs. The Time article also brings up a point I have mentioned in previous blog posts, that the agency is likely afraid of a big lawsuit over the First Amendment in trying to limit e-cig marketing.
Stanton Glantz, one of my favourite anti-tobacco advocates, is quoted extensively in the Time article.
“The deeming rule that the FDA has proposed is very, very, very limited in its scope,” says Stanton Glantz, a cardiology professor at the University of San Fransisco and one of the most vociferous proponents of strict rules for e-cigs. “It requires a useless warning label and says they can’t be sold to kids under 18, but it doesn’t put any restrictions on internet sales, which means kids under 18 can easily get them. It has no restrictions on marketing at all.” This puzzles Glantz. “You would think that the Obama administration would be supporting tobacco control because it would reduce health care costs.” As far as Glantz is concerned, the administration has erred on the side of the tobacco interests.
Naturally, one of the biggest concerns among health advocates is children’s access to e-cigarettes—and marketing of e-cigs to teens is up 321%, as TIME recently reported. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost 2 million students in the U.S. have tried e-cigarettes. Policies to address the issue run the gambit from the least controversial—like establishing an age restriction on purchasing e-cigs and child proof packaging—to the more divisive, like prohibiting marketing to teens, prohibiting internet sales, and restricting the use of kid-friendly candy-like flavors.
But even the most basic restrictions—like better product labeling, and child proofing—were absent from the FDA’s initial deeming rules, making other restrictions on advocates’ wish lists seem that much further away. “Any meaningful rules on marketing of e-cigarettes are years, and years, and years away,” says Glanz, pointing out that if restrictions were imposed, e-cig companies would likely sue over marketing restrictions on first amendment grounds.
A spokesman for an c-cig company had this predictably weasel word response:
Craig Weiss, the CEO of NJOY in Scottsdale, Arizona, one of the leading electronic cigarette brands, says there are appropriate curbs, but there is no reason e-cigarette marketing should be as strict as tobacco. “You are confusing the arsonist with the firefighter,” he says. “Why would you treat products that are part of the solution as products that are part of the problem?” he says. Though NJOY is careful not to make direct claims that their products can help smokers quit, Weiss is a big believer in the potential for electronic cigarettes to replace cigarettes. Weiss supports limits on the age of actors in ads and rules against e-cigs appearing in cartoons, but he rejects the idea that there is anything wrong with his ads, which do feature young adults.
Well, the problem, Craig, is that while e-cigs might be a solution for some adult smokers (the jury is out whether e-cigs are a very effective quitting tool) to quit smoking, they are not any kind of “solution” when 16-year-olds are using them instead of cigarettes.
Good news. According to new figure from the Centers for Disease Control, the smoking rate for teens has dropped to 15.7 percent, the lowest in 22 years that the National Youth Risk Surveys have been tracking the smoking rate.
The high point (or low point depending upon your perspective) of teen smoking rates was in 1997 at an astounding 36.4 percent. In 1998, the rate began dropping, in one year to 34.8 percent. Why? One big reason. The much-maligned Master Settlement Agreement.
I’m the first guy to say the MSA didn’t do nearly as much as it should’ve, nor as much as we all thought it was going to do when it was announced. The biggest problem is not nearly enough money was earmarked for tobacco education, but one of the good things that came out of that agreement was that it killed Joe Camel.
Joe Camel and other cartoon characters promoting tobacco products were banned by the 1998 MSA. It didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but check this out — teen smoking rates by year: 2001, 28.5 percent; 2003, 21.9 percent; 2005, 23 percent (about the time tobacco education funds started getting cut); 2007, 20.0 percent; 2009, 19.5 percent; 2011, 18.1 percent; 2013, 15.7.
A steady decline, with one blip in 2005, since Joe Camel was killed off. Now, the teen smoking rate is less than half it was 22 years ago. This is how we’re really going to win, not with regulations, but with education. Smoking is no longer seen as being cool and hip by a lot of teens today — at least 84.3 percent, and that has been through education.
One concern I do have is that perhaps one of the reasons the teen smoking rate has dropped so dramatically is because more kids today are using e-cigs. No data to back that up … but a bad feeling I have. While e-cigs are not as bad as cigarettes, nicotine is nicotine, addictive as crap, no matter what the delivery system.
Ireland, a longtime leader in the tobacco control movement (Ireland was actually the first countries to impose a nationwide smoking ban way back in 2004, which may or may not have had anything to do with the decline of the pub industry in that country, depending on who you ask), is making a push to force cigarette companies to remove all their branding from their packages and sell cigarettes in plain packaging only.
Australia has already taken this step, and New Zealand is the other country considering it. Australia was sued by several tobacco companies but ultimately, the Australian Supreme Court upheld the law. Tobacco companies are fighting New Zealand’s law, too, so Ireland can be assured that if they try a similar law, they will be taken to court.
(I’m guessing that because of the First Amendment, a similar law would likely not be upheld in the U.S.)
At this point, the legislation has passed the Irish Cabinet. Leading the cause in Ireland is Dr. James Reilly, the Irish Minister of Health and an ardent tobacco opponent. He wants to get the Irish smoking rate under 5 percent by 2025 (currently, it is at 22 percent).
The thought behind the plain packaging is that each cigarette package is a miniature advertisement for their product. If you remove the packaging logos, then you will no longer have ubiquitous advertising for that product every time someone remove a pack of cigarettes out of their pocket.
Not an outrageous concept, because really, what cigarette company do you think of when you see this to the left? See you already know what the brand is, even without the brand name in the logo. The logo has become that recognizable.
Dr. Reilly says:
The introduction of standardised packaging will remove the final way for tobacco companies to promote their deadly product in Ireland. Cigarette packets will no longer be a mobile advertisement for the tobacco industry.”
British American Tobacco, obviously opposed, responds that there’s no evidence plain packaging would lower smoking rates and that it would just play into the hands of black marketeers, who could sell any tobacco product in any box, without anyone knowing the wiser:
“There is no credible evidence that plain packaging will work in terms of stopping children taking up smoking or encouraging current smokers to quit,” the firm said.
“Instead, Minister Reilly’s plain packaging bill will simply play into the hands of the criminals who are ready and waiting to supply people, regardless of their age, with cheap tobacco products.”
I have no idea if removing branding will decrease smoking and is an effective tactic toward combating smoking. Somewhat on the fence on this, but I find it an interesting debate.