Bill O’Reilly claims he could’ve been a Marlboro Man

marlboro man bill o'reilly

Bill O’Reilly — yeah, the right-wing gasbag on Fox News — claims he was once offered a job modeling as a Marlboro Man back in the 1970s. (Good thing for Bill that he turned it down, because Marlboro Men tend to die.)

Bill used this bombshell to rag on marijuana. He said that while he supports the government’s efforts to fight tobacco use, government — and society as a whole — is implicit in encouraging more marijuana use.

I’m not a big marijuana advocate, but Billo is wrong for three very huge reasons — 1) tobacco kills 440,000 people a year, while marijuana kills ??? a year 2) tobacco is physically addicting for everyone who uses it, while only a small percentage of pot users become addicted (and it’s more a psychological addiction than physical) and 3) every study that has been done on the subject shows that pot does not cause lung cancer.

I love this quote from Billo:

Smoking marijuana is quite the opposite. That’s on the rise, as pot use is considered cool in many circles, and above all it is political correct,” he said.

Yeah, guess what, man. It’s uptight squares like you ripping on pot that just makes it more cool. You know, they figured this stuff out in the 1970s, get with the times.

bill O'reilly 1999
Bill O’Reilly 1979, studmuffin

Of course, what he’s really saying is liberals love pot but hate cigarettes. Again, read above, pot, for all of its negative issues (and I believe there are negatives to pot, again, I’m not a big advocate of it) is a) NOT killing 440,000 Americans a year, 2) NOT physically addictive like nicotine and 3) Does NOT cause lung cancer.

So, it’s a stupid argument, even for Bill O’Reilly.

 

Congressional report on ecigarettes focuses on marketing to kids

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This might be the beginning of the end for the wild and woolly world of ecig advertising.

Sen. Dick Durbin, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, California Rep. Henry Waxman, three of the biggest anti-tobacco do-gooders in Congress wrote the report about how ecig advertising is being directed at kids the same way tobacco advertising was directed at kids 30 years ago.

In the words of the AP story:

While the Food and Drug Administration plans to set marketing and product regulations for electronic cigarettes in the near future, for now, almost anything goes.

This is absolutely true: Almost anything goes. You have ecig billboards with Santa Claus; ads in Sports Illustrated with ecigs advertised on women’s bikini bottoms.

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In addition to marketing, the congressional report also talks about sugary flavours for ecigs, lack of warning labels and no age restrictions for their use. (That seems easy to me, no nicotine products at all for people under 18).

The FDA moves glacially slow. In 2011, the agency said it was going to regulated ecigs (but the agency has done virtually nothing yet. As an aside, the FDA was put in charge of nicotine five or six years ago and has done little but ban candy-flavoured cigarettes and Indian cigarettes). Supposedly, the proposed FDA regulations over ecig advertising were submitted in October of last year.

“I can’t understand why the FDA is taking this long,” Durbin said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It is clear that the longer they wait, the more young people will be addicted.”

While ecigs might be effective in helping some people quit smoking, there’s absolutely no reason for kids to be using them as a substitute for cigarettes, and it appears with some of the advertising that that is the intent. Ecigs give off steam and nicotine. Nicotine is still incredibly addictive, even if it comes from an ecig, and it’s still a drug with plenty of side effects. No reason to get kids started on it, period. I’m all for people quitting via ecigs, but this marketing crap needs to be cracked down on. I would like to see the FDA act yesterday, and it looks like several people in Congress would, too.

Great old anti-smoking commercial

Got this from SmokeFreeCA. A really cute and very old anti-smoking ad featuring “Johnny Smoke.”

It appears to be from the 1960s and a direct counter to the Marlboro Man. This is apparently from 1967 or 1968.

Using some pretty primitive animation, the commercial asks, “how many saddles will be empty tonight?” “How many tears will be shed because of you?”

This commercial was put out by the American Heart Association. I’m curious who does the narration. It sounds a lot like Thurl Ravenscroft, who did the narration to the original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

 

Hey, I just realized this video reminds me of Primus’ “Lee Van Cleef”

Washington Nationals’ Ian Desmond quitting tobacco

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Washington Post photo

Nice story from the Washington Post about the Nationals’ All-Star shortstop Ian Desmond. I think I’ve mentioned before that the Washington Post is one of the most anti-tobacco newspapers I’ve seen out there.

As we all know, baseball has a huge chew problem, which begins way back in high school. The minor leagues have banned players using chew during games, but MLB, while it has been discussed from time to time, has never taken action to stop players from chewing tobacco during games. For some reason, chew is deeply ingrained in the culture of baseball.

Anyway, Ian Desmond decided to quit chewing this past offseason. In this story, he admits that it has been difficult to quit. Keep in mind, chew has nicotine just like cigarettes and is just as physically addicting as cigarettes. A few excerpts from the Washington Post story:

He sent his mother, Pattie Paradise, a text message from inside the clubhouse. “I’m having a hard time,” he wrote. Having pleaded with him to stop for years, Paradise sent back, “You can do it.”

After Soriano fooled Jason Heyward with a nervy, 3-2 slider to strand two runners, Desmond retreated to the clubhouse. By the time Desmond stood in front of reporters, he had made it through the day without a dip.

“That was a bigger victory than beating the Braves,” Desmond said. “I’ve done it for a long time. I’m really trying hard to quit.”

Desmond could celebrate a win and an achievement. He stopped dipping before December and made it through spring training for the first time since he became a professional 10 years ago at 18. Desmond admitted he broke down Saturday night and packed his lip. But he viewed it as a small hurdle.

“That was back on the wagon, off the wagon,” Desmond said. “It’s not easy. I feel for people who have to deal with this stuff on a larger scale. I’m not proud that it’s got that control over me. But I’m fighting it.

“I hate to say this because I know there’s going to be kids that hear this. For me, growing up, it was part of the game. That’s what it was. When I put my uniform on, I feel like that’s part of what I need to put on. It just goes with the job, for me. I’m trying to shake it off.”

Desmond mother practically begged him not to dip Sunday morning. He had listened, and then he blasted the biggest home run of the Nationals’ first week. It may have been a coincidence, but Desmond will hold on to it. “That’s incentive enough right there,” he said.

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Good job, Ian. Good luck. Hope youhave more success at quitting than Terry Francona.

Ian’s decision to quit prompted a letter to the editor from James T. Currie from the Public Health Service congratulating him.

Tobacco sales may soon be banned on U.S. military bases, U.S. Navy ships

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Life Magazine cover from WW II

Remember the ubiquitous image of a dog-faced World War II soldier smoking a Lucky Strike between shellings from the Nazis? Well, that image has come a long way.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel came out last week and said he is considering banning all tobacco sales on military bases.

Hagel was quoted as saying:

“We don’t allow smoking in any of our government buildings. Restaurants, states, [and] municipalities have pretty clear regulations on this. I think in reviewing any options that we have as to whether we in the military through commissaries [or] PXs sell or continue to sell tobacco is something we need to look at. And we are looking at it. And I think we owe it to our people.”

A recent DofD study showed that smoking rates among people in the military is slightly higher than among civilians — about 24 percent to 20 percent.

No word when such a recommendation might be coming forward.

ww2cigad

Additionally (nice sidebar on this story), the Navy is considering banning tobacco sales on all of its ships. Surprising, a commander actually tried to ban tobacco sales on his ship — the USS Theodore Roosevelt, back in 1993, but get this, a Congressional subcommittee got involved (wonder if Big Tobacco got in the middle of this) and mandated that tobacco sales be allowed on all vessels. Then the Navy passed a regulation allowing smoking on all ships. Unbelievable!

According to Stars & Stripes:

Although the statute was overturned later by Congress, the story of the Roosevelt demonstrated the former power of the tobacco lobby and its interest in the military market.

In 20 years, times have changed. The Navy now does not allow sailors on active duty to take “smoking breaks.

Confirmed: Poisonings from liquid nicotine up dramatically — Centers for Disease Control

p0403-e-cigarette-poisonThis is a follow-up to a post from a few weeks ago and confirms the point some articles were making about increasing poisonings from nicotine juice for e-cigs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control latest Mortality and Morbidity report (man, I used to read these things religiously), the rate of reported nicotine poisonings rose from 1 per month in September 2010 to a whopping 215 per month in February 2014. Whoa!

More than half of these poison centre calls involved children under the age of 5.

According to the CDC release:

“This report raises another red flag about e-cigarettes – the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes can be hazardous,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “Use of these products is skyrocketing and these poisonings will continue.  E-cigarette liquids as currently sold are a threat to small children because they are not required to be childproof, and they come in candy and fruit flavors that are appealing to children.”

“The most recent National Youth Tobacco Survey showed e-cigarette use is growing fast, and now this report shows e-cigarette related poisonings are also increasing rapidly,” said Tim McAfee, M.D., M.P.H., Director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health.  “Health care providers, e-cigarette companies and distributors, and the general public need to be aware of this potential health risk from e-cigarettes.”

I’ve said this in the past, I’m on the fence about e-cigs: If they genuinely help some people quit smoking, I’m all for that. But, buy a clue about how toxic that liquid nicotine can be for your e-cigs. Jesus, if you have kids and are using e-cigs, keep those liquid nicotine containers locked up and out of kids’ reach.

When I became militant about cigarettes

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This image I saw from Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids reminds me of a story. I pinpoint it to the day I became militant about smoking.

I grew up around smoking. I breathed six packs a day worth of secondhand smoke from my parents (dad — 4 packs a day, mom — 2 packs a day). I remember whining to them about how much their smoking was bothering me in the car, and I was told “just roll down the window.” They didn’t want to hear it. I remember how bad their smoke was in the RV all night when we went camping.

Well, sure enough, I had a ton of ear infections as a kid. Had to have surgery on my ears because of the ear infections, probably caused by my parents’ smoking. In my early teens I started getting bronchitis all the time. By the time I hit college age, any head cold would immediately migrate to my chest and it would turn into 6 weeks of coughing. Twice in my 20s, I came down with pneumonia (and one time pleurisy). Only at the age of 29 did I finally grow out of that annual cycle of bronchitis and 6-8 weeks every winter of nonstop coughing.

Anyway, this brings me to Vic’s Drive Inn in Friday Harbor, Wash. Vic’s was a smoking joint, and in fact, I never sat down in Vic’s as a result. The smoke was SO thick in that place that one time I walked in just to grab a pickup order and walked back to work and everyone made fun of me because I reeked of smoke. I was in the building for less than 10 minutes. It was so bad, I went home and changed.

So, this one other time I walked into Vic’s, there was a fisherman sitting at a table (Friday Harbor was once a fishing town — no more, the fishing industry was in its dying throes at the time), puffing away on his cigarette with about a two-year-old boy sitting in his lap, coughing his head off and bawling. It just made me livid. The kid obviously had a respiratory infection, and there’s dad sitting 12 inches away literally blowing cigarette smoke in his face. Boy, I’m a big believer in not giving smokers shit, but I gave that guy a good glaring. What an asshole, I thought. What a self-centered idiot. It just brought back all my memories of those awful trips in the car and awful nights in the RV around a haze of cigarette smoke, and awful nights with burning eyes and a burning throat. I literally felt like punching the moron. I was really, really furious. I have never been so angry at a smoker.

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Vic’s — an icon in Friday Harbor, Washington

Instead, years later, I decided to blog about tobacco and to try and be a bit more constructive. Like I said, i will never forget that day, or that kid, or how amazingly stupid that guy was being. This would have been sometime in the mid-1990s.

(As an aside, Vic’s Drive Inn was sold a couple of years after that, and the new owners made it smokefree. I did a big article on it at the time. They said they lost a few customers, but gained a lot more than they lost. Washington went smokefree about 10 years ago and smoking restaurants went away.)

 

Swallowed chew causes big league player to leave game

San Diego Padres v Colorado RockiesFrom the “You just can’t make this stuff up” department.

Colorado Rockies centre fielder Carlos Gomez (hey, didn’t he once play for the Twins, Steve Lardy?) had to leave a game because he felt dizzy and sick to his stomach.

Well, it turns out he got sick because he actually accidentally swallowed his tobacco chew.

… cautious relief gave way to comic relief after the game, when Colorado manager Walt Weiss offered a description of what factored into Gonzalez’s condition to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding:

“He might’ve swallowed some dip or something. He landed hard, knocked the wind out of himself, swallowed some dip, dehydration, all those things were factors.”

Nasty! Carlos, you might want to switch to bubble gum. If for no other reason, your mouth, throat and teeth may thank you 20 years from. Wonder when or if baseball is going to ban dip? They’ve talked about it, but apparently haven’t done so yet. It is banned in the minors.

Amazingly, this is not the first time this has ever happened. According to this article, Josh Ortmon, a pitcher with the Cleveland Indians, ended up on the Disabled List because he pulled a muscle throwing up after swallowing his chew.

Haruko’s baseball preview — the already amazing comeback of Grady Sizemore

grady sizemore
Grady Sizemore

 

The big story coming out of spring training, other than some of the absolutely insane contracts being thrown around by the Yankees, Tigers and Dodgers, is Grady Sizemore making the Opening Day roster of the Boston Red Sox.

Grady Sizemore, in case people have forgot, was one of the best players in all of baseball about 7 or 8 years ago. But, he had a devastating series of major knee injuries that completely derailed his career. From 2005-2008, Sizemore average 27 home runs, 81 RBIs, 116 runs, 41 doubles and 29 steals a year, with an eye-popping OPS over .860 (Sizemore is a not a big hitter for average, but has always walked a lot). Real Hall of Fame type numbers over four years. But, then the injuries starting mounting. He had seven surgeries to his knees and back, barely played in 2010 and 2011, and had not played a single game since as he rehabbed from his multiple surgeries. He has only played 104 games since 2009. There’s almost no comparison to a player missing two full seasons and then actually making an Opening Day lineup.

But, thanks to hitting .333 in spring training, Sizemore will be starting today in centre field. The Red Sox had anticipated Jackie Bradley Jr. would take over in centre for Jacoby Ellsbury, but Sizemore outplayed him in spring training. Expect Bradley Jr. to be back in the Red Sox roster by June or so as a utility player.

Sizemore is still relatively young at 31, so it’s not like he’s a creaky old veteran, though his knees likely must seem like they are 60 years old. He is only making  a base salary of $750,000 this year, though he could make up to $6 million.

Sizemore will not go out and steal 50-plus bases the way Ellsbury can, so he won’t totally replace him. But, if he can play 120-plus games and play at 80 percent at what he produced from 2005-2008, it will go a long way toward helping Red Sox fans forget Ellsbury. He even has a little Red Sox beard started.

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Xander Bogaerts

 

Ellsbury was the only major loss for the Red Sox in the offseason. They also lost Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew, but they expect phenom Xander Bogaerts to take over as their longterm shortstop (the Red Sox have had at least 6 different Opening Day shortstops since trading away Nomar Garciaparra in 2003). And Boston signed A.J. Pierzynski to be their catcher (after losing out in the Bryan McCann sweepstakes, but the Red Sox were never going to offer him 6 years, $100 million like the Yankees did), who is probably an upgrade over Saltalmacchia, while they groom Ryan Lavernway to be their longterm catcher.

I also like the Boston approach, after getting badly burned by the Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett deals, to not sign free agents to ridiculous 7- to 10-year contracts. The Red Sox pay handsomely, but other than Dustin Pedroia, no one on their team is under contract for more than the next two years (they are working on a longterm deal for Jon Lester).

On paper, the Red Sox should be equal to or stronger than last year — on paper, at least. On paper, the Red Sox looked like they were going to completely suck last year, but shocked everyone with a scrappy group of scruffy players who hate to lose and a vastly improved pitching staff. Also, remember, the Red Sox were definitely NOT lucky last year. They had an epic rash of injuries. They lost their No. 1 closer for the year, they lost their No. 2 closer for the year, Clay Buchholz, their best pitcher, was on his way to winning the Cy Young but was lost at midseason to a shoulder/neck injury, free agent pickup Ryan Dempster was terrible, Ortiz started the season on the DL, Pedroia played the entire season with a broken thumb, Ellsbury broke his leg in August and Shane Victorino battled a bad hamstring all year. This year, they only have one player — Victorino — on the DL entering the season (again with hamstring problems). They STILL somehow managed to win 97 games.

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Yankees starting lineup

 

The Yankees, after spending an astonishing $450 million this offseason on Ellsbury, McCann, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka (who went a frightening 24-0 in Japan last year), ought to be better than last year, if for no other reason than because their lineup was absolutely atrocious sometimes last year with all their injuries.

But, the Yankees are also hoary as the hills. They are really old. Their entire Opening Day starting lineup is over the age of 30. Not one guy 29 or younger in that starting lineup. And their Opening Day lineup averages about 34 1/2 years old (someone told me the 2006 San Francisco Giants managed to be older — they went 76-85, btw). They will have 7 guys 33 or older and 4 guys 36 and older in that lineup (I’m not even counting 40-year-old bench player Ichiro). That’s not a recipe for success in the post-steroid era. Guys that old are going to have a hard time staying healthy.

One thing I saw in the offseason that I am starting to find alarming is the ridiculous money being thrown around in baseball. The Tigers and Angels on consecutive days spent $436 million (Cabrera 10 years, $292 million, Trout 6 years, $144 million). Clayton Kershaw got a $215 million contract and Robinson Cano got a $240 million contract.

I’m not one to get caught up in money or contracts or whine about the old days when the owners treated players like slaves and paid them $50,000 a year while they made millions, but I worry that these outrageous contracts are going to price regular folks out of baseball stadiums. One thing that is nice about baseball is you can still take a family of four to a game for under $200, but I’m concerned that is doomed with the increase in gargantuan contracts out there.

 

 

 

 

Study: Kids who smoke pot do better in school than kids who just smoke cigarettes

pot smoking

OK, NOT an endorsement for kids smoking dope, but an interesting study out of Canada. I think this study speaks more toward the attitudes toward dope and tobacco than the actual health effects of dope and tobacco.

According to this study, kids who just smoke pot have better grades and do better academically than kids who just smoke cigarettes. This study was done over the course of 30 years and to me the really interesting information that came out of it is that far fewer kids smoke cigarettes today than 30 years ago, while more kids smoke pot.

According to the article:

… and those that do (smoke cigarettes) make up a very “marginalized, vulnerable” population, says lead study author Michael Chaiton, assistant professor in epidemiology and public health policy.

This tells me that the most ostracised, least engaged kids, probably kids that will end up as dropouts, are the ones smoking cigarettes, while a lot of all-around average kids are smoking pot now, because even among kids, smoking is no longer seen as cool.

The article states this as much:

“Now there is a distinction between marijuana use and co-use with other substances, and it’s an indication of the changing social norms. So it’s not an absolute that they do better; it’s that social norms have changed and the population of people who use marijuana are more like the general population,” said Chaiton.

Another interesting stat — 92 percent of tobacco smokers also smoke dope, while only 25 percent of pot smokers also smoke tobacco. So, it’s really not an “either or” situation. Most of those cigarette smokers are also smoking pot. It has to do with attitudes toward cigarettes and pot … and what kind of kids are smoking cigarettes or pot in light of those attitudes.

Again, I’m not a fan of kids smoking dope, but they are going to smoke pot. Pot is becoming more and more socially acceptable for adults to the point where two states have legalised it, and I predict it will be legal in several other states within the next two or three years — and when it becomes more socially acceptable for adults to use it, it’s pretty tough to tell kids “none for you.” The attitudes toward pot are pretty similar to the attitudes toward beer.

Now, the study doesn’t say much about how kids smoke pot do academically versus kids who don’t use any drugs (one of the commenters on the article pointed this out.) The article contains this single sentence:

 Marijuana users don’t outperform non-users, Chaiton says.

It would be nice to see more information than that in the study.