John Boehner once actually handed out tobacco checks on the floor of the House

Thanks to Ando for reminding me about this.

Just to remind you of the kind of douchebags Republicans have devolved into over the past 20 years. Get this, in 1995, now Speaker of the House John Boehner (and coincidentally, a unapologetic chain-smoker) actually handed out cheques from a tobacco PAC to House members on the floor of the House just before a vote regarding tobacco subsidies. I mean, this shit should have gotten him thrown in prison and now he’s the Speaker of the House.

The dude just reeks of “sleaze.”

Department of Justice urges Big Tobacco to finally tell the truth

An interesting story here. The Department of Justice is urging Big Tobacco (RJ Reynolds, Altria and Lollilard) to admit that for decades, it lied about the safety of “light” cigarettes and that it lied about how addictive nicotine is.

These “corrective statements” are part of a 2006 federal judge’s decision that Big Tobacco had engaged in racketeering (while it was an amazing ruling, that judge unfortunately did not hand down any monetary punishment). This is part of their “punishment,” so to speak. This was a civil case, not criminal, so no one is going to jail.

The DOJ wants Big Tobacco to make its admissions in major newspaper advertising and on cigarette packaging.

Here are the two statement’s the DOJ is demanding:

“We falsely marketed low tar and light cigarettes as less harmful than regular cigarettes to keep people smoking and sustain our profits. We knew that many smokers switch to low tar and light cigarettes rather than quitting because they believe low tar and lights are less harmful. They are NOT.”

“We told Congress under oath that we believed nicotine is not addictive. We told you that smoking is not an addiction and all it takes to quit is willpower. Here’s the truth: Smoking is very addictive. And it’s not easy to quit. We manipulated cigarettes to make them more addictive.”

Big Tobacco is of course resisting and will be submitting their own proposed statements to the judge. I hope the judge makes the right decision.

Danica Patrick joins COPD campaigndrive4

I don’t follow car racing (I mean, I don’t follow it with extreme prejudice), but I have of course heard of Danica Patrick — I mean you can’t hardly get away from those Go Daddy! commercials of hers.

Anyway, I saw an ad in this week’s Sports Illustrated with her in it, for a campaign called “Drive4COPD.” I thought that was pretty cool. COPD is a little understood disease that doesn’t get a great deal of publicity even though it kills nearly as many smokers as lung cancer (COPD among non-smokers is exceedingly rare. A lot of people in the mining industry also get it.). The campaign’s symbol is an orange and purple pinwheel.

COPD is a collection of lung function diseases that a few years ago got lumped together in one category — emphysema, chronic bronchitis being the main two. It kills more than 100,000 Americans a year … the No. 4 killer in America.

I went to the web site, I hadn’t heard of it before. The other celebrities involved in the campaign are Patty Loveless, Bruce Jenner and Michael Strahan. The whole point of the campaign is to educate people about COPD and identify more people who are likely suffering it but aren’t even aware of it (symptoms are constant lung and respiratory infections, constantly coughing up gunk, and a chronic cough.)

U.S. Senators getting involved in trying to ban chewing tobacco in MLB

Well, this usually not a good thing when the U.S. Senate butts (hah, pun on a tobacco site) into something, but maybe this isn’t a bad thing, either.

Dick Durbin of Illinois and Frank Lautenburg of New Jersey both wrote Major League Baseball this week urging the league and the players’ union to work together to ban chewing tobacco in baseball. I wrote a few weeks ago about the effort to ban the use of chewing tobacco in MLB stadiums. Before you all start screaming, “Fascist” one me, it’s already banned in Minor League Baseball and has been for several years now. Last I checked, the Earth is still revolving around the Sun.

They point out that use of chewing tobacco has increased among high school boys by 36 percent since 2003:

The senators wrote:

“The use of smokeless tobacco by baseball players undermines the positive image of the sport and sends a dangerous message to young fans, who may be influenced by the players they look up to as role models.”

Hey, MLBers, kids really do copy more than just your batting stances. Seriously.

As recently as 1988, 39 percent of MLB players chewed tobacco (that number has to be lower now). There is some talk that a ban on chew in stadiums will be part of baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement.

Probably, I would’ve smirked at this a few years ago, a couple of U.S. Senators butting into a baseball issue, but then I remember everyone scoffed at Congress for holding hearings on steroids in baseball, and while it seemed like pretty pathetic empty theater at the time, those hearings actually ended up drawing a hell of a lot of attention toward steroids in baseball.

Quick updates on Kentucky, New York smoking ban

Here’s something you don’t see every day. In Newport, Kentucky (a suburb of Cincinnati), a county board overturned a smoking ban that never took effect. The county board had two or three new members voted on it in the November election and they immediately vowed to overturn a decision the previous board had just approved. Weird. You don’t see many local boards overturn local smoking bans. It’s only the second or third one I can remember.

The issue was highly contentious, with six public hearings held on it to packed audiences. More than 140 people spoke.

People care about smoking bans.

New York Times comes out against city’s strict smoking ban
Oh, oh, Jackhole won’t like this! 🙂
The New York City Council extended the city’s already fairly strict smoking ban to parks and beaches, something I honestly will be pretty hard to enforce in a city of 7 million. The New York Times, surprisingly to me, took issue with the extended smoking ban, saying Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City Council had “overreached.”
The NYT opined:

Instead of smoking on Brighton Beach, what does a smoker do — take a boat out 12 nautical miles into international waters?

Anyway, I’m actually all for beach bans because of the mess cigarette butts make. Park bans are a tougher nut. Like I said, the biggest problem with it is good luck enforcing that ban.

Las Vegas hotel charged $20 extra per night … for a non-smoking room

OK, sorry, this was just FLAT STUPID.

A hotel in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand, was actually charging non-smokers a surcharge of $20 a night for a non-smoking room. A surcharge for non-smoking. REALLY? That’s insane.

I guess the hotel management didn’t bother looking into how much smoking costs in extra cleaning costs to their carpet, walls, air ducts, furniture, etc. If anything, the surcharge should be charged to the smokers, not the non-smokers. From an economic standpoint, MGM Grande, it makes sense to reward non-smokers, not punish them.

What’s cute is after this was publicized by a Chicago Tribune columnist, the hotel immediately stopped the practise. Ah, the power of the press.

Court shoots down Jackson, Wyoming smoking ban

A state court in Wyoming overturned Teton County (Jackson’s) smoking ban, saying it violated the state constitution. This ban, implemented over a year ago, had been tied up in courts for months.

Essentially, the problem is one of process. The ban was imposed by the Teton County Board of Health, an appointed board. The judge ruled that only an elected entity, such as a city council or county board of commissioners, can impose such a ban according to the state constitution. I don’t know of any other bans around the country that were imposed by an appointed board, rather than an elected one.

So bans in Cheyenne and Laramie remain in place. Apparently, the Teton County board and Jackson council had declined to impose smoking bans, so the board of health took the reins in its teeth.

The county board of health says they will appeal. From a legal standpoint, they might not have that strong of a case.

Fuck you, GQ

And when I say, “Fuck you, GQ,” I do mean, go fuck yourselves…

GQ this month is featuring the “most cool athletes of all time” on its covers. Who was on the cover of GQ in OUR town. Arnold Palmer … smoking a cigarette … with a big headline “The Coolest Athletes Ever.” Remember, this is a magazine that anyone of any age can buy, too.

I’m sure there were lots and lots and LOTS of perfectly good photos available of Arnold Palmer NOT smoking.

Go fuck yourself, GQ. Jesus fucking Christ, in this day and fucking age, still equating smoking with “cool.”

Shaun Hill’s father dies in a tragic accident

On our refrigerator we have an autographed photo of Detroit Lions quarterback Shaun Hill. Pepe liked him when he played for the 49ers and he met someone on HP, I will keep his name private if he wishes, who actually knows Shaun. He was at Shaun’s wedding and coached him when he was in Little League.

Shaun Hill was a star quarterback in a little town in Kansas, and wasn’t recruited to many colleges, so he had to play at a junior college. He got his big chance at the University of Maryland. As a senior, he led his team to a 10-2 record and the Orange Bowl — and Maryland almost never plays in big bowl games. Not bad for a kid who wasn’t recruited much.

Then, he wasn’t drafted in the NFL. He made the Minnesota Vikings’ roster as a free agent, then moved on to the 49ers. He got a chance to play there, starting the last month of the season in 2007. He started nine games in 2008, putting up solid numbers (2,000 yards in a little more than half a season, 13 TDs and 8 interceptions, for a quarterback rating of 87.5, which is excellent.)

Despite his good year, the 49ers were committed to their No. 1 draft pick, Alex Smith, who had a big contract, while Shaun didn’t, and Smith ended up starting most of the games last year for the 49ers. Shaun played decently enough again, but that was the direction the 49ers went (Interestingly the coach who made that decision, Mike Singletary, several times this past season couldn’t decide if he preferred Alex Smith or Troy Smith, and he was ultimately fired, partly for his poor handling of the quarterback positions. Meanwhile, Alex Smith is expected to leave the team as a free agent.).

Shaun Hill playing with a broken arm

Shaun saw the handwriting on the wall and accepted a trade to Detroit in 2009. Again his tough luck continued. After starter Matthew Stafford got hurt, Shaun again played well, better than many first string quarterbacks, but had his arm broken on a tackle. He only missed about a month and came back and led the Detroit Lions to their best season in many years, leading them to wins in their last two games. The Lions won 6 games, the most they had won in three years. He passed for 2,600 yards, had 16 TDs, 12 INTs and a QB rating of 81.7.

And still, very few people have heard of him. He has always had to fight to get onto teams, first because he came from a small town in Kansas, then because he wasn’t that highly regarded in college, then because he’s never had a real chance in the NFL or played for a good team. But his career QB rating of 84.6 is better than a lot of “stars” such as Eli Manning or Mark Sanchez. His career record as a starter is 13-13, mostly playing for bad teams with poor defenses. He’s probably the best backup quarterback in football and could probably start for at least half a dozen teams.

What’s more than being a good football player, our friend tells us he is a good guy. Shaun suffered a terrible tragedy this week when his father fell off the roof while working on his barn and was killed. He was only 60 years old. Every bit of that toughness that Shaun showed to stick around the NFL when he was never highly regarded, and to come back and play a month after having surgery on a broken arm is kid stuff compared to losing a parent, especially in such a tragic way. We wish him well in his time of need and send him our condolences. And we will continue pulling for him to succeed.

And his photo remains in an exulted spot on our fridge.