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

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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

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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.

 

Tobacco Madness bracket — some truly insane tobacco and e-cig ads

TobaccoMadness2014_Bracket_R2OK, I honestly thought I had seen every insane cigarette ad there was, but thanks to the Respiratory Health Association and Lungchigaco.org, I’ve found some more.

They’ve got a game going called “Tobacco Madness,” in which two insane cigarette ads are paired against one another, and you have to pick the one that is the most nuts. (It took me a while to get the links straightened out to this. The bracket is tiny, but if you click on  this, it should be readable.)

Here’s some of the more insane ads blown up in a slideshow. Really demented stuff. I mean the ad tying e-cigs to breast cancer awareness is really the most twisted one I’ve seen:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

Elaine Benes lives — Being a smoker is bad for dating

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Elaine Benes broke up with Keith Hernandez over his smoking

This is absolutely not a surprise to me at all.

According to stats from the dating app Hinge, men who self-identify being a smoker are absolutely killing themselves for hooking up with someone.

According to newly released statistics from the the dating app Hinge, men who self-identify as smokers are rejected 89 percent of the time. In other words, they’re 61 percent more likely to be rejected than their smoke-free counterparts.

Similarly:

survey published in February from Match.com and the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer found that 89 percent of people on Match.com preferred to date a non-smoker.

Remember, the old days when the tobacco companies promoted cigarettes as sexy and alluring. No more.  Smoking is a major turnoff for a lot of people — the smell, the secondhand smoke, etc.  Seinfeld was ahead of it’s time!

I love a couple of the comments on this story (I don’t comment on HuffPost anymore.)

I always thought some anti-tobacco ads should emphasize the butt breath people get from smoking. The stank in their hair, clothes, skin, saliva (yes, try kissing a smoker – ugh) is disgusting right along with the yellow fingers and teeth. I always chuckle when I see a smoker put on cologne or perfume – what’s the point? It’s like spraying Fabreeze on a turd.
 I am a smoker and have no complaints with your post. It is a horrible and useless habit.

 

Liquid nicotine … 1,300 poisonings in 2013 and growing; one teaspoon can kill a kid

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Saw this article splattered all over the Internet today. Scary.

Liquid nicotine, completely unregulated by the way, is one of the main ingredients of e-cigarettes. It’s extremely potent and dangerous in its concentrated liquid form and can kill kids if they get their hands on it and start drinking it. The New York Times, and USA Today  had articles on this today.

There were more than 1,300 reported poisonings from liquid nicotine in 2013, according to the New York Times, a 300 percent increase from 2012. That number is expected to double in 2014. The vast majority of these involved children 4 and under. (Interestingly, one of these poisonings involved an e-cig that broke while a woman was asleep and she absorbed the nicotine concentrate through her skin. Man, that is some powerful stuff.)

Again, an incredibly, potent, powerful drug … and completely unregulated at the moment.

“It’s the wild, wild west right now,” said Chip Paul, chief executive officer of Palm Beach Vapors, a company based in Tulsa, Okla., that operates 13 e-cigarette franchises nationwide and plans to open 50 more this year. “Everybody fears F.D.A. regulation, but honestly, we kind of welcome some kind of rules and regulations around this liquid.”

 

 

OK, we get it Arnold Schwarzenegger, you’re some kind of rebel … or something

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Arnold Schwarzenegger made a point of it last week to have his photo taken on the campus of Facebook holding a cigar in front of a sign that says, “tobacco free campus,” later proclaiming that he loves to break the rules.

Arnold’s Facebook caption:

Facebook’s philosophy is Move Fast and Break Things, which I love,’ he wrote in the caption. ‘So naturally I broke some rules at their headquarters. Thanks for the great visit!’

Yeah, whatever, most people are grown up enough that they don’t need to brag about what rebels they are, by holding an unlit cigar in front of a sign that says, “no smoking.” (the story says he was lighting the cigar, but in this photo at least, it’s pretty obviously unlit) Maybe because he was a serial philanderer, a steroid abuser and just about the worst governor in the history of California who utterly bankrupt the state financially .. but to me, this doesn’t really say “rebel,” it just says, “a guy acting like a douche.”