Smoking and Christmas

I just love vintage cigarette ads. They’re just so DECADENT!

Especially cringe-worthy are Christmas cigarette ads. I guess holiday packaging used to be a pretty big deal back in the day for cigarette cartons. I vaguely remember cartons becoming Christmasy during the holidays.

I love all the ads with Santa smoking. This is decades before Joe Camel. Get those kids interested in cigarettes early.

Here is a sample of old Christmas cigarette ads.

The smoke in Spain falls mainly outside the bars

Ay Carumba! Spain has gone completely smokefree.

Spain was one of those European countries that supposedly banned smoking (way back in 2006), but really didn’t. The rules were very lax and even those lax laws were essentially ignored. This has been the case in some other European countries that have “banned” smoking, (such as Italy and Greece), where the smoking rate is still so high and smoking so entrenched in the culture, that it was a hopeless law.

Well, Spain decided to crack down. No more ifs ands or buts. No smoking in bars or restaurants at all in Spain. No smoking on television, and no smoking in hospital parking lots (Reminds me of that Editors song, “Smoking outside the Hospital Doors.”), and playgrounds.

Of course, the ruling SOCIALIST party was behind the new law, and even then it was a close vote in the lower house, passing just 189 to 154.

Ohio can grab tobacco funds

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this week that the State Legislature does have the power to raid $250 million of the state’s tobacco funds. This is money from the 1998 $280 billion Tobacco Settlement Agreement between the states and Big Tobacco.

Several states have used these monies simply to balance their budgets. The states won the settlement initially because of the costs of smoking on state’s Medicaid programs. But, instead of using that money for anti-smoking education or health care, most states have simply thrown the money into their general fund pots so they can avoid raising property taxes. There’s nothing in the agreement that prevents states from doing this. And no one expected it or saw it coming. It was one of the most heartbreaking aspects of the 1998 settlement. So much more could have been accomplished with that money, but politicians wanted to be able to spend more money without raising taxes and it turned into an easy little windfall for a number of states.

So, Ohio actually set up a quasi-nonprofit quasi-public agency to run its anti-tobacco program. A couple of years ago, Gov Ted Strickland decided to raid the agency’s funds, and the agency fought back. The American Legacy Fund (a national anti-smoking organization) sued, saying the $10 billion Ohio received from the 1998 settlement was a trust that the state couldn’t simply raid.

After two years of the case winding through the courts (At one point a court ruled in favour of the anti-tobacco plaintiffs and against the state), the state Supreme Court ruled that what Strickland did was legal.

Children and cigarettes

This is a Dinosaur Jr. album cover

Two articles today about smoking and cigarettes.

One comes from a jury award in Boston. I’ve read about this case before. In the 1950s, Lollilard employees used to hang out at playgrounds handing out cigarettes to kids to get them started smoking. A jury awarded the family of a woman who died from lung cancer a $152 million judgement (including $81 million in punitive damages) because she got hooked on cigarettes from Lollilard enticing her and others with free cigs. The woman said that Lollilard employees first gave her free cigarettes when she was 9 years old. She got free cigarettes for years and didn’t actually start smoking them until she was 13. Here is her son’s story, in the Boston Globe.

At the trial, Lollilard denied giving away free cigarettes to children. Of course, they wouldn’t lie. Right? I mean, cigarette company never lied about their product causing lung cancer … or nicotine being physically addictive …. right? Smiley

There is also a racial component to the case. The plaintiffs claimed Lollilard intentionally targeted black children in black neighbourhoods with a brand — Newport — that has long been marketed to blacks.

Pretty disgusting stuff.

Cigarette smoke in apartment buildings bad for kids

A recent study showed that children living in apartment buildings had 45 percent higher amount of tobacco byproducts in the their bloodstream than children living in houses … even if adults in their units weren’t smokers.

Time Magazine’s story:

In a study of tobacco exposure from secondhand smoke in more than 5,000 children, researchers led by Dr. Karen Wilson at University of Rochester found that youngsters aged 6 to 18 years who lived in multi-unit housing had a 45% increase in a chemical byproduct of tobacco in their blood compared with children who lived in detached family homes. And these were youngsters who lived in units where nobody smoked inside the apartment itself, meaning that the exposure was occurring primarily via secondhand smoke drifting in from other units.

This study surprised even the scientists involved. 99 percent of white children living in apartment complexes had cotinine, a byproduct of cigarette smoke, in their systems. It’s a pretty shocking story. You should read it.

Frankly, I can believe it. When I still lived in a condo (It was a non-smoking building), I still had neighbours downstairs who smoked. One guy moved in who literally went out on his deck every 20 minutes to smoke. That smoke blew right into my place. It was really nasty when you would get two or three people downstairs outside smoking. One day I came home. I had left my bedroom window open because it was hot, and there was literally a fog of cigarette smoke in the apartment from the guys downstairs. I had to have the carpet cleaned and the upholstery cleaned to get rid of the reek. I had tobacco grit in my throat and nose from breathing it. It reminded me of how awful my parents’ smoke had been. It really pissed me off. Fortunately, he wasn’t a bad guy at all — just utterly clueless about his cigarette smoke — and we were able to work things out amicably (they were breaking the rules. The rules said no smoking on the property, period), and they agreed to stop smoking underneath my deck.

I think it’s a case in which some smokers to this day (granted, a lot of smokers “get it.”) continue to be clueless about just how far their smoke can drift, and just how much it irritates non-smokers.

Former Premier of Alberta: “If you’re stupid, start smoking.”

Ralph Klein, who was the premier of Alberta from 1992-2006 (wow, that’s a long time), and was mayor of Calgary from 1980 to 1989, is ill from emphysema (also called COPD, though COPD can be more than just emphysema). Klein gave an incredible interview with the Calgary Sun about his battle with COPD. He began smoking when he was 14 years old.

In the article, Klein, who is 68 (most people who get emphysema/COPD start getting it in their 60s) is quoted:

“I started smoking when I was 14. We thought it was cool. Everybody did it. I smoked a pack a day for almost 50 years. I quit smoking six years ago, but it’s caught up with me.
If you’re stupid, start smoking.”

Get this, Klein was also the leader of the “Progressive conservative” Party in Alberta. What the Hell is a “Progressive conservative.”

Did you know smoking has been tied to rheumatoid arthritis

It has. Several studies have confirmed this … that at the very least, there is a causal relationship between smoking and rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition to COPD, my mom suffers from really severe rheumatoid arthritis, in her back, neck and hip. She’s in constant pain and has been for many years. She’s needed a cane for several years and has moved up to a walker. She can barely get up or down a flight of stairs. I have mild osteoarthritis from playing sports in my hip and shoulder and sometimes it bothers me quite a bit. I can’t even imagine what she goes through. I’ve often wondered how much of a connection there is between her decades of smoking and her severe arthritis.

A new study released in the UK earlier this month suggests that smoking is behind 1/3 of the most common kind of rheumatoid arthritis cases, and if you are genetically susceptible to arthritis, smoking may be behind more than 50 percent of those arthritis cases.

Arthritis is considered an autoimmune disease. Smoking’s role may be is that it’s damaging the body’s autoimmune system, increasing the risk of arthritis.

Smoking is also a risk factor for diabetes.

More maps … and smoking rates

Here are some maps I forgot.

The top map is smoking bans.

The second map is cigarette taxes.

The bottom map is smoking rates.

See a correlation? Why, where there are smoking bans, smoking rates go down. What an amazing coincidence. Which is why I’m all for smoking bans. Whatever fascist approach has to be taken to persuade smokers its time to quit.

I also recently noticed that Virginia isn’t getting a fair shake in the smoking ban map. Virginia actually has a valid smoking ban, stronger than Pennsylvania’s, but it has some loopholes, so I guess they don’t get any credit in this map. Virginia should be white in opinion, or at purple.

The CDC recently released its statewide smoking rate survey. Utah, where you burn in Hell for lighting up a cigarettes, is the lowest again at under 10 percent, while California is second at 12.9 percent, a big drop for California. Montana has also improved, dropping down to 16.8 percent, which is in the upper half. Montana is one of the few states in the country, however, in which the smoking rate for women (17.3 percent) is higher than the smoking rate for men, 16.4 percent.

Wisconsin is one of the latest states in the country to impose a smoking ban. Wisconsin also has an extremely high cigarette tax — over $2 a pack — and its smoking rate has dropped from over 20 percent down to 18.8 percent.

Interestingly, the top seven states, Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, Alabama and Mississippi, all have no smoking bans and low cigarette taxes. Oklahoma, Kentucky and West Virginia are the only states over 25 percent. When I first started studying this stuff, several states were over 30 percent. Kentucky has consistently been the highest smoking rate in the country.

Smoking rates

Do you have Avs fever yet? And if not, why not?

Brandon Yip

Hah, watch. Next week, they’ll lose three in a row cuz of my post.

We have a rule in our house that you can only watch *TWO* hockey matches every week, so at least one every week is the Colorado Avalanche.

What a fun, spunky team they are to watch. They are ridiculously young, I think their average age is maybe 24 or 25, almost everyone on the team is a rookie, second-year or third-year player, and yet they are NO. 1 IN THE ENTIRE NHL in goals scored. They have scored 112 goals in 31 games, which mean they are on pace for 300 goals.

Paul Stastny

And with this very young team, they are 17-10-4, they have won four in a row, they are tied for first place in the Northwest Division with 38 points. Hockey is so weird. In the Western Conference, there are only two teams with losing records — there are 13 teams with winning records! How is that possible? It’s because of the dreaded “three-point” games, where no one loses. 🙂 In a three-point game, one team gets a 2-point win, while the other team doesn’t get a loss, it gets a single point for losing in overtime or a shootout. (If you think this is complicated, hockey for a while actually had four columns — wins, losses, overtime losses and ties. That was REALLY impossible to keep track of!)

Craig Anderson

So what does that mean? Almost every team in the NHL is a winner! 😀 It also means you have to have an incredibly good won-loss record to make one of the 8 playoff spots in the West. You could go 45-30-7 and miss the playoffs the way things are going (Apparently, back in the old days, when you had 21 teams and 16 playoff spots, you could have a pretty bad won-loss record and make the postseason. Not so anymore.). So, in the West, you have 12 teams that have between 33 and 43 points. The Avs are currently tied for second in the conference. If they lose their next game, they could drop all the way down to sixth. If they lose two games in a row, they could drop all the way down to 10th. It’s crazy. And exciting. Every game counts!

Chris Stewart

Hardly any of their players are famous. Milan Hejduk (pronounced like “Hayduke Lives”) is fairly well known. He is their one old veteran who was on the team when they won the Stanley Cup in 2001, but he has hardly played lately Chris Stewart is a rising superstar and was on pace to score 50 or 60 goals, but he broke his hand — but the team hasn’t slowed down. Their best players are Paul Stastny (son of Hall-of-Famer Peter Stastny), who has a big missing tooth and is either a Czech or an American, depending on who he wants to play for in the Olympics :lol:; Thomas Fleishmann, who scored a hat trick last night, Brandon Yip (I love his name!), David Jones and Matt Duchene. One of their better players, Peter Mueller, hasn’t played a single game all year and may not play for them at all this year because of a concussion he suffered in preseason. None of these guys are very famous, but they are leading the entire NHL in goals scored. Their goalie is Craig Anderson, an American who backed up Ryan Miller in the 2010 Olympics. Even he was hurt pretty bad and missed about a month, but that hasn’t stopped the Avs.

They will be fun to watch all year and it should be a roller coaster ride.