ESPN, Chicago Sun-Times call for MLB ban on chewing tobacco in wake of Tony Gwynn’s death

 

Jim Caple, writer for ESPN and the Chicago Tony-GwynnSun-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.

Jim Caple writes:

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 Chicago Sun-Times writes:

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.’’

Tony Gwynn dies of salivary gland cancer — he blamed his years of chewing

Former Major League star tony gwynnTony 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.

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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.

Tony Gwynn Tumor Surgery

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.

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Time Magazine: The e-cig industry has won the regulatory battle

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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 everyone, teen smoking rate drops to lowest point in 22 years

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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.

teen smoking graphic

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.

teen smoking graphic2

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 to try and follow Australia’s lead in requiring plain cigarette packages

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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? logo_marlboro-box_usa-1 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.

 

 

U.S. Supreme Court leaves Florida jury awards intact in Engle cases — this is a big deal

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Howard Engle

This is a continuation of the long-running Engle case in Florida.

Many years ago, a jury issued a $145 billion class action judgement against Big Tobacco for knowingly selling a toxic, addictive product to people, and then lying about it. This came to be known as the Engle case ($110 million settlement reached by Liggett Group in Engle case) , named after Howard Engle, one of the main plaintiffs. The Florida Supreme Court  overturned that ruling several years ago, but made a subtle and very important ruling in favour of the plaintiffs that while they could not sue for class action damages, they could individually sue Big Tobacco for the effects of its lies and cover ups on them on their families.

Since then, there’s been literally hundreds of lawsuits filed against Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and Lorillard and many judgements have been handed out in the millions of dolalrs.

R.J. Reynolds appealed a number of these judgements (RJR has always been the most aggressive company in fighting anti-tobacco court cases and laws), to the U.S. Supreme Court. The total amount of the judgements is about $70 million (the largest single judgement is $25 million). The U.S. Supreme Court categorically refused to hear their appeal, in effect letting the judgements stand.

So, another loss in the courts for Big Tobacco; this is not the area in which they’re going to win much anymore. There is simply too much documentation, much of it coming out through the discovery process in countless lawsuits over the years against Big Tobacco, of the industry’s lies, subterfuge and cover-ups. They were selling a poisonous product and were killing people and they knew it. The evidence is all there.

There are thousands of these cases that will be tied up in the courts in Florida for the next 10 to 20 years. Keep forcing those tobacco company to pay and keep forcing them to pour millions into their legal fees. (Passing on their costs to the consumers and encouraging more people to save money by quitting — seriously, one of the reasons cigarettes are so expensive today compared to 20 years ago is because of all the legal expenses and the $280 billion Master Settlement Agreement reached by Big Tobacco.).

 

The country with the highest smoking rate — East Timor

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If you had flat out asked me this question, what country has the highest smoking rate in the world, I might have said Belarus or Bulgaria, something like that. It’s not an Eastern European country, it’s a county called East Timor.

All right, having to whip out my atlas to see where the hell East Timor is.

East Timor is a tiny nation on the Indonesian island of Timor (but not part of Indonesia, sort of like Papua New Guinea.) It’s only 5,000 square miles and the population is about 1.1 million. It’s separate from Indonesia primarily because it was a longtime Portuguese colony, while most of the rest of Indonesia was colonised by the Dutch.

Anyway, enough geography lessons (reminds me of a really, really bad newspaper editor I once knew who for some mystifying reason decided to write a geography lesson sidebar about Yellowknife, NWT, because a fisherman from Yellowknife drowned in the area. Only problem was, throughout the article, he referred to it as “Yellowfish, NWT.” I had fun sending that article to the Yellowknife newspaper and seeing their angry editorial ripping on ignorant Americans. Anyway, I digress). According to this BBC article, East Timor has an incredible smoking rate of 61 percent among men — that percentage hasn’t been that high in America since about 1960. That’s just a shocking figure.

According to the article:

At the moment the big killer is tuberculosis but Dr Dan Murphy, a Canadian who’s been running a local hospital and clinic in Dili for 20 years, is worried about the future.

Some 80% of the world’s smokers live in developing countries and “young people are learning that what they’re supposed to do to be Western and advanced is to smoke cigarettes,” he says.

“Now we have to change their whole way of thinking and start worrying about tomorrow. I’m afraid we’re going to have to go through a phase of learning the hard lesson that’s been seen throughout poor countries.”

Another interesting part of the story is that East Timor has not seen a big influx of health problems connected to smoking. Why? Because it’s a brand new burgeoning market. Most of that 61 percent of men are young men who have only been smoking a few years. Give it another 10 and 20 years and watch East Timor’s medical infrastructure swamped with middle age men dying of COPD, heart disease and lung cancer.

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What East Timor highlights is that the developing world, Third World, whatever you want to call it, is the future of the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry is in the midst of a long, slow decline in North America and western Europe. But, Africa and Asia markets await. Big Tobacco has been drooling over these markets for years (to the point where China very strictly controls western tobacco sales in its country).

These countries tend to be poor and don’t have the resources for tobacco education. Never mind the fact that the tobacco industry created a damn holocaust of death and disease in the West all during the 19th century, now that the West has gotten wise to the evils of tobacco, Big Tobacco wants to export their product to a new, unwitting market. It’s really beyond amoral, it’s just sick.

BTW, the BBC article created a nice infographic about the heaviest smoking countries in the world. I wasn’t far off with Bulgaria, it makes the top 6.

Countries with highest smoking rates

  • Kiribati
  • Macedonia
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Bulgaria
  • Tonga
  • East Timor

Figures for 2012. Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, published by JAMA

Kiribati is another country I’ve never heard of. Used to be called the Gilbert Islands.

 

USA Today, NBC News take on e-cig advertising

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Good, it’s more than me who is bothered by e-cigarette marketing techniques and how they mirror cigarette marketing techniques from 20, 30, 40 years ago.

Both USA Today and NBC News jumped all over this story with extensive articles on a study in the journal Pediatrics explaining how much exposure children have to e-cig advertising.

Researchers from RTI International found that kids aged 12 to 17 experienced a 256 percent increase in exposure to ads touting e-cigs during the study period of 2011 to 2013. The exposure of young adults, those ages 18-24, increased by 321 percent.

Man, and it’s just a coincidence that e-cig use among teenagers has exploded in the last couple of years … right, e-cig industry?

I will reiterate. I don’t have a big problem with e-cigs. They apparently help some people quit smoking, are not nearly as toxic as cigarettes and the steam is not as toxic or annoying as cigarette smoke. I honestly have the attitude that if they genuinely help people quit cigarettes, more power to ’em and to their customers. However, I have a HUGE problem with some the e-cig advertising I have seen in the past year or two … ads making e-cigs look sexy and glamourous and cool. As the headline in the NBC News story reads: “The new Joe Camel?”

The problem is kids starting up with nicotine via e-cigs rather than cigarettes because of all the advertising they’ve seen making it look cool and hip. Nicotine is nicotine. I don’t care what the delivery system is. It’s incredibly addictive and really has little or no redeeming values. It also is bad for your blood pressure and can lead to further addictions (most drug addicts started using tobacco as their first drug — fact.)

According to the NBC News article (with a photo of that anti-vaccination loon — thanks for the return of childhood Measles, dimwit — and e-cig pitchwoman Jenny McCarthy):

The researchers used a common measurement to gauge how many people saw an e-cigarette, and how often they likely saw it. Based on that data, they estimated that 50.0 percent of all kids between the ages of 12 to 17 in U.S. TV households were exposed to an average of 21 e-cigarette ads from October 2012 through September 2013.

They also say data could represent an exposure to an average of 105 advertisements for 10 percent of all U.S. youth or an exposure to an average of 13 ads for 80% of all U.S. youth over the 1-year period.

Those numbers have researchers and other public health advocates worried.

“We don’t know the extent to which an e-cigarette is really a gateway to other tobacco products,” explains lead researcher Dr. Jennifer Duke, senior public health analyst at RTI. “What we do know is that nicotine spurs changes in the brain that leads to addiction. And no one knows what the ramifications of e-cigarettes and potential addiction will be.”

USA Today’s article is titled “An explosion of youth exposure to e-cig ads”

In the USA Today story:

Results of the new media study provide “the strongest evidence that there has been an absolute explosion of youth exposure to e-cigarette advertising on television,” says Matthew Myers, president of the advocacy group Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“It’s particularly disturbing precisely because Congress removed cigarette advertising from television because of the unique impact TV advertising has on young people,” Myers says. ” When e-cigarette manufacturers say that they don’t market to minors, it’s deja vu all over again. This study demonstrates the importance of FDA moving rapidly and decisively to protect our nation’s children.”

What’s especially galling to me about this is the Food and Drug Administration does have some power over e-cigs. The agency has recommended, finally, banning the sales of e-cigs and while advocates were hoping to some rules on e-cig advertising, the FDA deferred on this issue. It’s an OK first step, but the FDA needs to do more to try to prevent kids from taking up e-cigs.

 

 

Anti-soda activists look to war on cigarettes as a model with warning labels

Benjamin Lesczynski takes a sip of a "Big Gulp" while protesting the proposed "soda-ban," that New York City Mayor Bloomberg has suggested, outside City Hall in New York
French Press Agency (AFP)

Interesting article from Raw Story and the French News Agency (which does a lot of articles on tobacco and e-cigs).

Activists trying to fight obesity in kids and adults got together at the Center for Science in the Public Interest to discuss how to combat the epidemic of obesity and diabetes. One of their proposals was to copy a technique used by anti-tobacco advocates many, many years ago –legislation calling for warning labels on surgery drinks. It’s not as goofy as it sounds. Such a bill has already passed the State Senate in California.

The language is similar to warning labels for cigarettes: “Drinking beverages with added sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.”

“Give people the information at least,” said Harold Goldstein, one of the doctors and experts who attended the “Soda Summit.”

 “Once they have the information, then they will be ready for more.”

Now a warning label isn’t going to stop a 10-year-old kid from buying a soda, but maybe just maybe it will make parents think before buying a 12-pack of Coke for their kids if they are seeing that warning on the box.

Interesting, I have seen the period between 1960 and 2000 often referred to as either the “Tobacco War” or the “Cigarette War.” This article references the “Soda War.” I guess with the severe epidemic of diabetes, especially in the Deep South, it’s reaching the same level of urgency as the battle against tobacco 50 years ago (which obviously lingers to this day, or I wouldn’t be here doing this.).

The good news is, the education is having an effect:

“The signs of early victories in this war are that soda consumption, particularly consumption of sugar sweetened sodas, is down significantly” from a peak in 1998, said Jim Krieger, an organizer. “People are getting the message.”

Annual US consumption has dropped from 55 gallons to 44 gallons, a 17 percent decline, and water consumption has increased 38 percent over that period.