Tobacco lobbyists staying busy in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, they are considering a bill that would allow cities to pass local ordinances banning smoking in bars or restaurants. Right now, Oklahoma has no smoking ban, and local ordinances are not allowed by state law. It also has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation.

Big Tobacco doesn’t have many strongholds left, but Oklahoma is one of them. Big Tobacco is employing a whopping 13 lobbyists in Oklahoma alone to lobby against this one bill, up from nine last year. That’s how much smoking bans freak out Big Tobacco now (because smoking bans do lead to lower smoking rate). I figure 13 lobbyists at $100,000 a pop — that’s $1.3 million they’re spending in Oklahoma alone just to fight a bill that’s relatively weak. Oklahoma may have the weakest smoking control laws of any state.

The bill is expected to be voted on later this month.

Kids’ ear infections drop dramatically — partly because of drop in smoking

Fascinating story I read yesterday.

Health officials report that over the last 15 years, ear infections among children have dropped a whopping 30 percent. Wow!

One of the reasons ear infections have dropped so much is believed to be a concurrent drop in smoking (other factors are mentioned, but I believe the drop in smoking is a big one.). Not only are fewer people smoking, but more people who do smoke have bought a clue about not smoking around their kids.

I had constant ear infections as a kid, and still have problems with my ears today. I had my tonsils taken out, adenoids removed, tubes put in my ears. Didn’t do any good. Because back then, people didn’t make the connection between secondhand smoke and ear infections in kids. (Though I still shake my head that my parents could never figure out that their six packs a day were contributing to my chronic bronchitis.)

It’s pretty much taken as fact now, except by the Forces.org weasels, that secondhand smoke is a huge contributor to kids’ ear infections. This article explains the mechanism pretty well. Kids get ear infections often times after colds and flus, because the lining in ear tissue would become inflamed. Inflamed tissue then would become more easily infected.

Well, cigarette smoke causes the same kind of tissue inflammation in kids’ ears as colds and flus, making kids more vulnerable to infections.

According to the CDC, about 88 percent of nonsmokers (including children) were being exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke in 1990. That figure dropped to 40 percent in 2007.

And the winner of the 2011 Hackadamy Award? …. Inception!


The Hackademy Awards is a clever little PR trick done by a group called Scenessmoking.org to bring attention to the level of smoking in movies marketed to kids and teens.

One of the things that absolutely drives many of us anti-smoking advocates BATSHIT crazy is how Hollywood continues, in this day and age, evoke “cool” images of smoking … even though Big Tobacco supposedly stopped paying for product placement in movies 13 years ago. If you really pay attention, you will notice an absolute shitload of smoking in PG and PG-13 movies made after 1998 … and much of the time, that smoking is portrayed as “cool.” It’s fucking asinine and pisses me off. You can do whatever you want in an R-rated movie as far as I’m concerned, but if you can’t say “Fuck” twice in a movie and keep your PG-13 rating, then you shouldn’t be able to smoke in a PG-13 movie, either. Remember those ratings are really about marketing campaigns. They have nothing to do with freedom of speech or the first amendment or censorship. Some of us have fought long and hard to get automatic R ratings in movies for cigarette smoking, with limited success. The biggest problem is apparently a lot of Hollywood actors and directors (such as James Cameron) are apparently still stuck in the “Casablanca” mindset that smoking is still cool. Well, Humphrey Bogart died at 57 of esophagal cancer and that’s not so cool, is it?

Anyway, every year, this group picks their Hackademy winners and losers. The big winner for 2011 is “Inception.” (Interestingly, the group behind the Hackademy Awards hasn’t updated its website since 2010, but they did just put out a press release for what it’s worth.)

What’s interesting about this is Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio, who is a notorious three-pack-a-day chain smoker and smokes like a chimney in countless movies. In several interviews, he claims he has tried to quit, but had to stop using nicotine patches because they were giving him nightmares. Supposedly, he is now smoking cigars now rather than cigarettes. As crazy as it sounds, cigars are actually less carcinogenic than cigarettes.

Texas smoking ban being attempted again

This has been attempted many times before and so far no dice. Two bills introduced in the Texas State Legislature would impose a statewide smoking ban.

Texas remains the largest state in the union with no statewide smoking ban, however, a ban there has a chance. First of all, Livestrong is based in Austin, and Lance Armstrong is adamantly pro-smoking ban and is not shy about using his influence, and his organization, to lobby for it.

Secondly, most of the major cities in Texas already have smoking bans — Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso and Corpus Christi all have smoking bans. San Antonio is the biggest city that doesn’t have a strong smoking ban (they have a very weak one). Fort Worth has a restaurant ban. Myriad other smaller cities also have smoking bans. So, like half the state of Texas already is living under municipal smoking bans. Might as well make it statewide.

But, truth be told, Big Tobacco has a LOT of influence in Texas too. Big Tobacco has been known to spend millions lobbying in Texas. The Houston Chronicle has come out to ask legislators to finally stop caving in to these lobbyists.

So, does this have a chance? Your guess is as good as mine.

New group to advocate getting chewing tobacco out of baseball


Well, I guess this was inevitable; though I was surprised to see it today. A new group has been formed, with snazzy website and everything to urge Major League Baseball to ban chew from clubhouses and playing fields. I’ll be keeping an eye on this site.

The group, called TobaccoFreeBaseball.org, the brainchild of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, one of the more deliciously assertive groups out there fighting Big Tobacco. (The Forces.org types really hate Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Must mean they’re doing a good job. Anything that gets that crowd’s dander up is OK by me.)

Here is their official announcement of their new campaign.

A short excerpt from their announcement:

Several news stories have examined the difficulty players and coaches have in breaking their addiction. Among those who have spoken about the challenge of quitting are Strasburg, American League Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton and Bruce Bochy, manager of the World Champion San Francisco Giants. Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn’s recent cancer diagnosis and his public comments attributing his disease to years of chewing tobacco have underscored the health threat from smokeless tobacco.

Tobacco use was banned in baseball’s minor leagues in 1993. The NCAA and the National Hockey League have instituted prohibitions on tobacco use. Major League Baseball is lagging behind.

Meanwhile, smokeless tobacco use among high school boys is spiking – there has been a 36 percent increase since 2003 and 15 percent of high school boys currently use smokeless tobacco, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They also forgot Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who has tried to quit chew, but hasn’t been able to so far.

Forces.org has gone insane

Not that they ever particularly had their shit together to begin with.

OK, I’ll probably get sued now.

Forces.org, a foaming at the mouth rabid anti-anti-smoking (anti-smoking ban, specifically) website that pretty much knee jerk claims that any and all evidence about the dangers of secondhand smoke is “junk science,” has put out a $3,000 “bounty” for anyone to claim if they have information that will lead to a CONVICTION that anyone in the anti-smoking movement has committed perjury.

To wit: “FORCES INTERNATIONAL is offering a reward of US $3,000.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of current or former anti-tobacco industry activist, institution or government official for anti-tobacco related crimes such as perjury, alteration/falsification of official documentation, false swearing, racketeering, and conspiracy.”

Oh, freaking brother 🙄

Not only are they gunning for scientists or professional lobbyists, but any journalists who have written stories about these studies or said testimony … which means they could also be gunning for bloggers like ME.

My favourite quote from the site: “These individuals are responsible for a large amount of the public hysteria and misinformation about tobacco use and secondhand smoking that is now pervading the society of many nations, and it has already caused the undoing of families, loss of jobs, business, and much social stigmatization.”

They have caused the “undoing of families and much social stigmatization…?” and have created “public encitement to persecutorial attitude.”

Oh, Christ, the poor smokers. Having to step outside to light up a cig. They’re as persecuted as the poor people of Libya. This is the crowd I used to butt heads with. You can’t reason with ’em. Most of them are batshit insane.

There. Sue me for that.

I love the spelling and grammar on this obviously professionally done website, too.

“This offer is limited to the United States, and Canada, and it will be expanded to other countries at a alter date.”

This kind of government-sponsored, self-perpetuating scam has attracted many unscrupolous individuals from all walks of life…

Well, with that kind of proofreading, you can tell Forces International is damned serious.

In all seriousness, this is laughable and pathetic, but ultimately it isn’t funny, because it is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate professionals involved in the anti-tobacco movement. Lots of people make lots of threats to sue (I’ve had some real dumbfucks threatening to sue me lately for defamation online), and lots of flippant lawsuits do get filed, which means people actually have to hire lawyers and deal with it. What ISN’T funny is this lame and half-assed attempt to somehow put a chill on people’s FIRST AMENDMENT rights (I especially like the part where members of the media are included in their investigation) to express their opinions about secondhand smoke.

Lance Armstrong campaigns for higher cigarette tax

Anti-smoking and anti-cancer advocate Lance Armstrong now appears to be moving full-time into cancer advocacy.

A couple of years ago, Lance campaigned pretty strongly for a smoking ban in Texas. He didn’t win that round, but since he started speaking out, several large cities in Texas have imposed smoking bans, in particular Houston and Dallas.

Now, Lance is campaigning in California for a $1 a pack tax in that state which would be directed specifically toward cancer research. California has a really low cigarette tax (surprisingly) at 87 cents a pack, which is considerably below the national average of about $1.50 a pack. California a few years ago also voted down a ballot initiative that would’ve raised its cigarette tax — after Big Tobacco spent tens of millions defeating it. Big Tobacco will spend a lot of money fighting this initiative, which should be placed on the ballot sometime in 2012. Why? Studies show that a $1 a pack increase will drive the smoking rate down roughly 10 percent. There’s roughly 4 million smokers in California. Big Tobacco is looking at losing 400,000 customers, spending roughly $1,000 to $2,000 a year on cigarettes, if this passes. It’s in Big Tobacco’s interests to spend money to fight the measure.

The measure would raise about $850 million a year. Hopefully, with the money directed specifically toward cancer research, California voters will do the right thing … and NOT listen to the propaganda that will be coming from Big Tobacco.