Baseball stars who endorsed tobacco products — a lot of them died young

Roger Maris
Roger Maris died of cancer at 50

Again, another idea from Haruko.

She showed me an ad with Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams advertising cigarettes and I got the bright idea to see how many ads there had been with baseball stars hawking tobacco products.

And when I looked, I said, “WHOA!”

I found dozens upon dozens upon dozens of ads going all the way back to the early 1900s. I was really shocked. I had never seen these ads before. I knew full well that tobacco companies had used many, many movie stars over the years to sell cigarettes, but I wasn’t aware of all the baseball ads.

The first ad that popped up hit me like a ton of bricks — Roger Maris. Roger Maris, as we all know, smoked five packs a day to deal with the stress of going after Babe Ruth’s home run record. He also died at the age of 50 from cancer. (Strangely enough, his family has always been fiercely private about what exactly Maris died of. There’s been varying reports that he died either of head and neck cancer, lung cancer, lymph gland cancer or lymphoma; I’ve found articles saying all four. The family has always been reticent to discuss it and the story seems to have changed at times about what exact kind of cancer he had. All I can think of is they don’t want people saying, “Well, Maris did it to himself.” Anyway, I digress. He died of cancer. At the age of 50.)

Maris also had a fairly short career. He was basically done at 30 and completely out of baseball at 33. I’ve always wondered if his heavy smoking habit helped break his body down so quickly. It definitely couldn’t have helped.

Babe Ruth died of throat cancer at 53
Babe Ruth died of throat cancer at 53

Another ad that jumped out of me was Babe Ruth endorsing Old Gold. He was a smoker and chewer who died of throat cancer at 53. There’s more. DiMaggio was in a ton of cigarette ads. And while he lived into his 80s, he died of lung disease (likely COPD). Another one that jumped out at me — Jackie Robinson, who died at 52 of diabetes (and it’s known today, not then, that smoking is a risk factor for diabetes).

Another tobacco ad featured Harry Heilmann, a very good hitter in the 1920s. He died of lung cancer at the age of 56. Another chew ad featured Nellie Fox, a Hall of Famer who died at 47 of melanoma.

Anyway, here is a slideshow of these old baseball tobacco ads:

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“Rush” and the history of tobacco advertising in racing

Haruko and Chris Hemsworth
Haruko and James Hunt


We were watching Haruko’s new favourite movie, “Rush,” the other night and of course my one track mind got stuck on how James Hunt’s 1976 McClaren was splashed with advertising for Marlboro.

It got me thinking, that 1) Would the constant advertising for Marlboro make Rush an R-rated movie, or does this advertising fall into this vague category of “historical accuracy,” that allows some tobacco use and images in films (Somewhat of a mute question since Rush had enough sex and F-bombs to garner an R-rating anyway, but I did wonder.)

Secondly, I wondered if tobacco companies still advertise through automobile racing?

The short answer is apparently not, though I’m not a NASCAR fan and I wouldn’t have a clue if there’s still a Skoal car out there. But, according to Wikipedia , which had a pretty detailed entry about tobacco advertising and car racing, “tobacco was all but out of North American motorsport by 2013.” Tobacco advertising died out for two reasons — the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement forbid certain kinds of tobacco advertising (this apparently mostly affected IndyCar racing), and a number of countries around the world started forbidding tobacco advertising on cars.

According to Wikipedia, tobacco advertising was last used on vehicles in Formula One in 2008. A number of countries outright forbid tobacco advertising on vehicles. Marlboro still sponsored a Formula One team up until 2011, and while they couldn’t splash “Marlboro” on the car, the car was still painted Marlboro red and white.

Formula One World Championship
James Hunt’s McClaren M23 Marlboro car

Tobacco advertising in car racing used to be HUGE … remember the NASCAR championship was called the Winston Cup for many years … that didn’t stand for Winston, North Carolina, it stood for Winston cigarettes. It began slowly in the late 1960s, and as tobacco advertising was banned on television in the early 70, tobacco companies needed another outlet to advertise their products — so they poured millions of dollars into car racing in the U.S. and around the world. By the mid 70s, tobacco advertising was all over Formula One, Indy Car Racing and NASCAR. Not only were cigarettes advertised at races and on cars, but smokeless tobacco, too like Skoal and RedMan.

Hunt’s Marlboro McClaren was an iconic car in racing history. (As an aside, Hunt was a heavy smoker and died of a heart attack at 45. His use of cocaine may have contributed to his heart attack, as well.). Niki Lauda even drove a Marlboro McClaren after Hunt retired.

One thing that is interesting is there’s been at least two cars that have advertised Nicorette and Blu E-cigs. Products to help people quit smoking are getting into the racing racket.

Haruko’s review of “Rush.”

Rush is a surprisingly good and extremely exciting movie from Ron Howard. It was very surprising to me that this movie didn’t make that much money (only $27 million in the U.S. and $90 million worldwide — some Marvel movies make that much in a weekend) and didn’t garner more Oscar buzz. The movie is really that good and seemed to somehow fly under the radar last year. It’s simply the best car racing movie I’ve ever seen.

I think the movie got overlooked a bit because Ron Howard is still not taken that seriously by film critics. Like Steven Spielberg, he has a reputation for making good (and commercially successful), but not great movies, so I think a lot of film intelligentsia has a hard time giving him his due when he makes a genuinely great film like “Rush.”

Hunt and Lauda
Hunt and Lauda

Rush tells the story of 70s Formula One racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda and their rivalry. The movie remains pretty true to life, even copying some of the play-by-play announcers  from the 1970s. The one thing the movie embellished was the relationship between Hunt and Lauda. In the film, they hate each other, but become friends after a horrible accident to Lauda. In real life, they were always friends. Hyper-competitive rivals, but friends nonetheless. They didn’t hate each other, they just hated losing to each other.

What I loved most about this movie is that unlike a lot of movies made today, most of the driving scenes are for real, with real cameras placed strategically on the cars, instead of CGI cars. A couple of the accidents are obviously CGI (like one scene in which a vehicle flips in the air over Lauda’s head), but it’s done so well, it doesn’t look fake. Too many movies today rely on CGI technology, rather than going to the trouble of getting difficult shots. I was blown away by the racing scenes and wished I had seen them in the theatre. Real ’70s vintage cars, real footage, real stunt drivers. The lack of CGI really gives “Rush” a very 1970s feel. I honestly felt like I was watching a 40-year-old movie.

I was also surprised at the language and sex in a Ron Howard film (again, making it feel like a 70s movie, yeah, movies had a lot more sex in the 1970s.). This is very much an R-rated film (perhaps another reason why it didn’t do that great at the box office.)

I really hope this film becomes a cult classic on DVD like a lot of films that kind of got missed at the box office, like Big Lebowski or Apocalypse Now.

Photo gallery:

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FDA will ban e-cigarette sales to minors

These 13-year-olds legally bought their e-cigs (OK, they're from the UK, but you get the point)
These 13-year-olds legally bought their e-cigs (OK, they’re from the UK, but you get the point). No more e-cig sales to minors in the U.S.

Well, this came a lot faster than I expected. I expected the announcement next week.

As fully expected, the Food and Drug Administration today announced that it intends to ban the sales of e-cigarettes to minors. The sales ban is part of a series of e-cigarette regulations proposed by the FDA. The regulations will be finalized after a 75-day comment period, but I expect few changes.

Here is one story from NBC and here is another. Here is a CNN story.

Here’s the upshot of the new regulations.

The big one. No more e-cig sales to minors under the age of 18. This is really important. Because e-cigs have been completely unregulated, “vaping” has become more and more popular with kids, because frankly, it’s a lot less hassle for kids to get their hands on a e-cigs rather than cigarettes. According to the CDC, the percentage of kids under 18 using e-cigs double from around 5 percent in 2011 to around 10 percent in 2012. That’s alarming. I’m guessing that number is approaching 20 percent today.

While e-cigs may not be as toxic as cigarettes, they still contain nicotine, which is incredibly addictive, so c-cigs, when used by kids as a substitute for cigarettes, are addicting kids to nicotine. E-cigs might be fine for someone trying to quit smoking, but not for some 16-year-old to use instead of tobacco.

Other new regulations are no more free samples, a ban on vending machine sales in any business open to minors, a mandated disclosure of all ingredients in e-cigs and a mandated warning label that nicotine is physically addictive.

The one disappointment to me is there are no proposed restrictions on e-cigarette advertising. I think the advertising has been fairly out of control similar to what was going on with cigarettes 30 years ago. E-cigs are being made to look cool and sexy to kids, and there have even been e-cigs ads using women’s panties and Santa Claus.

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids issued  a statement with understandably mixed sentiments, taking the FDA to task for taking so long to develop these regs (three years) and urging them to address marketing to kids in the future. However, CTFK is pleased that there is a ban for sales to kids.

However, I also acknowledge that restrictions on advertising may have run into some First Amendment issues. Perhaps the FDA didn’t want to deal with the headaches of First Amendment lawsuits. The FDA CAN enforce advertising restrictions for tobacco products because the tobacco companies agreed to those restrictions in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. In that agreement, Big Tobacco agreed to not use cartoon characters (like Joe Camel … or Santa Claus, etc.) to promote its products. I honestly do not know how much power they have to restrict marketing of e-cigs.

Anyway, like I said, the big one is ending the sales of e-cigs to minors. That crap had to be cracked down on. We don’t need a new generation of nicotine addicts being created, no matter what the delivery system. The other big fear I have with e-cigs being sold to kids, and I wonder how often this has happened, is kids getting the bright idea to directly use the liquid nicotine that comes in vials along with the e-cigs. Seriously, I could just see 13- and 14-year-olds trying that. That liquid nicotine in its concentrated form is highly poisonous and powerful.



Interview with Centers for Disease Control chief — Tobacco is still the No. 1 health issue in America

Thomas R. Frieden

Really good interview I saw on a site called (was not familiar with it) with Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control, about health in America. The headline talks about legalized pot, but honestly, I didn’t see pot mentioned in the article. Just trying to drive clicks, I guess. Hee, the interview room looks pretty spartan. Did they conduct this interview in an old parking garage somewhere?

Anyway, it’s a wide-ranging interview touching on  e-cigs, tobacco, vaccines, prescription drugs, etc. I’m going to focus on the tobacco and e-cig and pot part of the discussion. There’s a lot of other good stuff there if you want to read the whole thing.

Some excerpts:

Frieden’s comments on tobacco control, when asked if tobacco has become a passe public health issue. The message is, yeah, fewer people might be smoking today than in the past 100 years, but the health crisis caused by the smoking epidemic has not gone away, and we must remain continually vigilant to get the message out to kids that smoking isn’t cool:

What is the single biggest opportunity out there in health?

 I would start with tobacco control. You know what, people sometimes think, “Oh, tobacco. That’s yesterday’s issue.” It still kills more people than anything else in this country and around the world. And there’s a lot more that we can do about it. It doesn’t just kill people, it disables, disfigures, causes diseases. It increases our health care cost. Tobacco is really the number one enemy of health in this country and around the world.

When you say that a lot of people think that tobacco is yesterday’s news, what is the next step on policy? At this point you’re dealing with taxes in New York that are high enough that one out of three packs is basically smuggled into the state. When you say there’s a lot more to do, what is there more to do?

First off, there are a lot of places that haven’t yet implemented the things that we know will work, whether that’s protecting people from second-hand smoke at work or increasing tax or reducing smuggling, which there are ways to do. Or running hard hitting ads, which we know make a major impact – they save lives and save money. These are some of the things that work.

Health care system can do much better at helping people quit. Medications will double or triple the chances that you’ll succeed. But the things that are going to make the biggest impact are price, hard hitting ads and smoke-free laws.

Now, some interesting comments about e-cigs. Frieden actually mentions a couple of issues I hadn’t thought about much personally.

E-cigarettes may help in some ways but they are definitely harmful in many ways as well. If they get kids hooked on tobacco and nicotine, which they are doing. If they get smokers to continue smoking rather than quit. If they get smokers who quit to come back to smoking.

What’s your view of the evidence on whether they actually help people quit?

If they re-glamorize the act of smoking or confuse smokers at what works to quit. These are all real problems with only at this point potential benefits from e-cigarettes.

There’s one small well-done study that they helped a little bit. The patches helped a little bit in that study too. The two weren’t statistically different. We do know that people who are using e-cigarettes are not quitting at higher rates than people who aren’t using them now. As we learn more, I have no doubt that an individual here or there can be helped by them, that they might be helpful to some people. As a societal issue, they’re only going to be helpful if they’re well-regulated and if cigarettes are well-regulated.


FDA to issue regulations on e-cigarettes sometime next week

NBC News image

I feel lately like I am writing more articles on e-cigs than cigarettes lately, but most of the articles I’ve seen on tobacco-related issues have been about e-cigs during the past six months. I’d hate for the Lounge to become a site about e-cigs rather than tobacco (especially since WordPress assumed that I was advertising e-cigs on my blog.).

Anyway, hopefuly the frenzy of coverage over e-cigs will die down a bit later this year as the Food and Drug Administration will be issuing regulations over the sales and marketing of e-cigs. The FDA, which has been taking its time working on these rules, ultimately has control over e-cigs because the FDA was given control several years ago to nicotine — the main ingredient of e-cigs.

I think two issues are paramount here 1) Ban e-cig sales to minors and 2) Control e-cig advertising the same way tobacco advertising is controlled. These are the two biggest problems I see with e-cigs … that in most states, it is legal for kids to buy them and use them, and e-cig companies have been downright brazen in marketing e-cigs to kids. (And the FDA can control e-cig advertising because of the nicotine. I know it sounds like a First Amendment issue, but this issue has already been settled with tobacco products.)

Maybe e-cigs serve some purpose in helping some people quit cigarettes, but, unfortunately, “vaping” has also become hip and cool for teenagers; one of the reasons why is because kids can legally buy and use e-cigs, but it’s a bigger hassle for them to get their hands on cigarettes. That stuff needs to be cracked down on, because kids are still becoming addicted to nicotine, it’s just a different nicotine delivery system then cigarettes or chew.

Anyway, I will be waiting for the news next week when the FDA makes its announcement and hopefully comes up with some common-sense rules for these issues.


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


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.


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

ian desmond
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.


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

soldier smoking
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.


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.