France cracks down on e-cigarettes, tobacco packaging

France, which all but epitomizes European cool when it comes to cigarettes, is proposing to impose strict new rulesE-cigarettes regulation on the public use of e-cigarettes.

A bill has been introduced that would ban the use of e-cigs in public places.

I loved this response from a French spokesman for tobacco products:

The president of the French Tobacconists’ Confederation, Pascal Montredon, told the Guardian that Touraine was being unrealistic by modelling her reforms on “Anglo-saxon” countries such as Australia and Britain where the cigarette distribution network is completely different from France.

“Tobacconists are fed up with being stigmatised at a time when instead the government should be doing something about the unemployment rate,” he said. The confederation is pressing for e-cigarettes to be sold solely in tobacconist stores, but the proposed legislation fails to address this, he said.

Modeling reforms on “Anglo-Saxon” countries like Britain and Australia. Too funny. (Apparently, Australia has banned e-cig use in public according to this story).

Don’t have a strong opinion one way or another on this, other than I think it highlights that people really don’t trust e-cigs and don’t trust that the steam coming out of them is  completely benign. A few cities in the U.S. have banned e-cigs in public places, I don’t believe any states have, though I’m sure bills have been introduced.

This will be interesting to watch, because much of western Europe has imposed the same kind of strict anti-smoking measures seen in the U.S. (I have no idea how strictly they are enforced), which is a boon for the e-cig industry. Because people can’t smoke in bars anymore, now they can vape instead … except a lot of people aren’t comfortable with that nicotine-laced steam and don’t want to be around it.


In addition, France is also set to require plain packaging on cigarettes, much as Australia has done. Again, French tobacco spokespeople are not happy:

Celine Audibert, spokeswoman for French firm Seita, which is a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco, slammed the move as “completely incomprehensible”.

“It’s based on the Australian experience which, more than a failure, was a complete fiasco,” added Audibert.

In 2012, Australia forced all cigarettes to be sold in identical, olive-brown packets bearing the same typeface and largely covered with graphic health warnings.

Oh, boo hoo Celine. How was it a “fiasco?” Because Imperial Tobacco’s profits declined? No matter the culture or location, tobacco weasels all speak the same language.

BTW, graphic warnings on cigarette packages was derailed on First Amendment grounds, but I found a really fascinating story about this that I will post later.

“Unpaid Tobacco Spokesman” — GREAT ad campaign by

I found this ad campaign absolutely fantastic from the consistently amazing Truth campaign (paid for by the American Legacy Foundation, which comes from Master Settlement Agreement funds — the tobacco industry itself pays for these ads, which has at times really pissed it off.).

It’s a series of images of young Hollywood actors puffing away with the meme “Unpaid Tobacco Spokesman” to creep shame these actors into realizing they’re setting a lame example for kids. They don’t look hip with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth, they don’t look cool, they just look stupid. The ad ends with “They’re the new face of Big Tobacco, and they don’t even know it.”

The ads are part of the group’s “Finish it!” campaign, meaning the finish line to stamping out teen smoking is within site.

Included are the guy from Twilight … Edward something, Kristen Stewart, Mary-Kate Olson, Orlando Bloom (Ok, he’s 37, not so young), Chris Brown, Rihanna, Emma Roberts, etc. Young actors or singers. I even saw a flash of Keifer Sutherland in this ad.

This article from Al-Jazeera America features the Truth campaign and its wild success, and flatly says, “The End of Teen Smoking is Here.”


Well, I don’t know about an absolute like that, I suspect we’ll never completely stamp it out, but the latest statistics are stunning. According to the Legacy Foundation, the teen smoking rate today is 9 percent, compared to 23 percent 15 years ago. (I know it’s been dropping dramatically, but 9 percent seems really low — according to the Centers for Disease Control, that rate was 14 percent in 2012.)

The AJA article points out that teens often follow what celebrities are doing on social media and the Truth campaign takes that phenomena and turns it on its head.

In nonprofit meetings across the country, I have no doubt that starry-eyed directors are telling their employees to come up with something that will go viral. The ice bucket challenge to support a cure for ALS was a moon shot, a one-in-a-million public relations hit that set a new standard for nonprofit outreach. Celebrities, politicians and a lot of people in your Facebook feed posted videos of themselves dumping bucketfuls of ice water on their heads, and a portion of them went on to learn about ALS and donate money for research. (The Truth campaign) It was a triumph of creativity and conformity at the same time.

What’s awesome about this Truth campaign is that it was Hollywood for decades and decades that for reasons that to this day mystify me, became the biggest FREE unofficial marketing force for cigarette use throughout much of the 20th century. Countless movies beginning in the 1930s showed smoking as being either tough, suave or cool, and this continued well after the 1964 Surgeon General report … and it was all for free. The tobacco industry didn’t pay a nickel for all that free advertising over the couse of decades. Not … a … nickel. Hard to believe. Big Tobacco didn’t start paying for product placement in movies until Superman II in 1980 and the MSA agreement in 1998 brought that to a halt, and yet smoking in movies actually went UP over the next decade.

Why? Because Hollywood is still stuck with some weird fixation that somehow smoking is cool, hip and suave (the music industry is much the same). They’re still stuck in the 1940s. Well, Humphrey Bogart, John Wayne and countless other stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age, died of cancer caused by their smoking. Only when studios were threatened with R ratings for depicting smoking in movies did studios really make the effort to curb smoking in movies.

The AJA article does acknowledge that one major factor for the rate of teen smoking dropping, is the meteoric rise in the use of e-cigs among teens. So, it might be roughly the same number of kids still using nicotine products. That’s the down side of these numbers.

Anyway, what’s awesome about the Truth campaign is that it’s helped change the playing field — where once smoking was cool and hip, now it’s seen as stupid. Years ago, Hollywood actors were the icons of making cigarettes cool, now those same techniques are being used to make entertainers look stupid for smoking.

The AJA article:

Reducing teen smoking is no doubt a worthy goal, and the Legacy Foundation has done a better job than most nonprofits getting its message to the people who need to hear it. The foundation received its last major settlement check in 2003 but made it last through prudent financial management. It has successfully undone much of the tobacco industry’s harmful misinformation and it did it in 15 years with rhetoric instead of punishment. Teen smokers can blame Truth when their friends hassle them for lighting up, and the organization deserves credit for that.

As an aside, I would be DYING to know what some of these celebrities think about being featured in this ad. I doubt very many of them are happy about it.

Tucker Carlson and “masculine” smoking, part 2

©Herrmann + Starke 2004

Amanda Marcotte, a blogger over at Raw Story, wrote this really hilarious column about Tucker Carlson’s recent assertion that somehow smoking is “masculine.”

What sparked Carlson’s bizarre comments was a “test run” of a new CGI cartoon of Popeye with no corncob pipe. Now, keep in mind, this was a “test run,” so it’s entirely possible that Popeye’s pipe will be added later (and equally possible they made a conscious decision to remove his pipe). Anyway, Carlson and some other Fox News dweeb had some ridiculous meltdown over it that this was somehow all the fault of liberals “wussifying” our culture by stamping out smoking. Carlson said something to the effect that liberals would rather have birth control pills in cartoons than tobacco because liberals are terrified of tobacco (Gee, not because it kills 400,000 Americans a year or anything, Carlson.).

One thing I would like to point out to Carlson, something I didn’t think of off the bat — so smoking makes you more masculine, huh? Well, Tucker, one of the myriad side effects of cigarette smoking, you douche, is MALE IMPOTENCE! That doesn’t exactly make you more masculine.






Anyway, Marcotte, who often writes about women’s issues, had this to say about Tucker Carlson’s nonsense:

So advertising tobacco to 4th graders is good and advertising the pill to them is bad.  Is it because the pill is bad for you and tobacco is good for you? Well, no. I mean, tobacco causes cancer, normally understood as a negative thing, whereas the pill prevents unintended pregnancy, which is normally understood as a positive thing (except in the eyes of misogynists, a not insignificant number of Americans, sadly).

Marcotte adds:

One of the hosts pointed out, you know, that maybe it’s actually a responsible thing to not glamorize smoking tobacco for little kids. You know, because cancer. ““No child has ever smoked a pipe because of Popeye,” Carlson replied.

So, let’s follow here: Somehow Carlson believes that images of contraception (which no one, I repeat no one, is actually putting in a Popeye cartoon) onscreen could poison children’s minds, but somehow images of tobacco wouldn’t work that way. Because manly man man man don’t ask questions it’s all about the manly man he-man man stuff.

Carlson and Fox News dweeb Clayton Morris also complained that the new Wonder Woman is wearing pants rather than a tight little leotard. Carlson somehow claimed that this was an “Islamic” point because liberals (I guess) want to keep women covered up.

Marcotte writes:

Okay, so let’s follow here. Contraception is bad, because it might give kids the idea that sex is okay. However, putting pants on Wonder Woman is bad because we need to be teaching kids that sex is okay.

Just kidding, it’s not a contradiction. It makes perfect sense if you employ the double standard. Contraception is bad because it makes women believe that sex is okay, and women should always feel ashamed and dirty about wanting to have sex. But Wonder Woman is obliged to always be wearing short shorts because men need to be told, every second of every day, that their sexual desires are gallant, important, and so critical that they can never be ignored or set aside for even a second.


Tucker Carlson is peeved that the new Popeye has no pipe — smoking is “masculine”

new and old popeye

Fox News dweeb Tucker Carlson continues to, well, be a irrelevant right-wing dweeb.

Carlson on a Fox News segment, complained that the new CGI Popeye no longer has his telltale corncob pipe in his mouth, that liberals are “wussifying” Popeye by taking away his pipe.

Carlson adds:

 “Nothing is scarier to a modern liberal than tobacco. If Popeye were driving around giving the morning after [birth control] pill to fourth graders, that would be totally fine.”

That just leaves me …. WT…F? … what does birth control have to do with Popeye?


Carlson, you twit, if liberals are scared of tobacco, it’s maybe because they’ve watched their parents, partners and other loved ones die of lung cancer, COPD or the other myriad of diseases that tobacco causes. Yeah, liberals are afraid of tobacco — they’re also afraid of drunken drivers. It’s called COMMON SENSE.

OK, I don’t have a strong opinion about Popeye’s corncob pipe, but Carlson, wake up. This isn’t about political correctness.  Times change. 60 years ago, it was common for cartoons to show Daffy Duck getting shot point blank with a shotgun, and then simply readjusting his bill and wiping off the gunpowder — dimwit. Do you have cartoons today showing people getting blasted point blank in the face with a shotgun? NO. Why? Because it’s a stupid thing to depict and enough stupid people with little kids leave loaded guns lying around their homes that it might give kids the idea that it would be funny to shoot their little brother in the face with a gun. So, cartoon makers have bought a clue that it isn’t cool to depict “harmless” gunplay in cartoons anymore.

The same thing about Popeye. I mean, if they had left the pipe, I would have been fine with it, but I’m also fine with removing it because it’s aimed at small kids — not you or your bizarre ideas of liberals and smoking being cool. Ultimately, Popeye isn’t about his pipe, he’s about his canned spinach. In any case, it’s just a stupid thing to feign outrage about and typical of Fox to go mining for things to feign outrage over.

Carlson goes on to make the asinine statement that somehow:

 “… smoking a pipe, a symbol of freedom and masculinity in America itself, the reason this country exists, tobacco, that’s like, ‘Oh, that’s outrageous. That’s a major sin.’”

Wrong on so many levels. A) smoking a symbol of freedom and masculinity? Ask anyone attempting to quit cigarettes if they feel “free.” Ask anyone with smokers’ hack at 5 a.m. or any smoker getting the shakes on a long flight because they haven’t had a cigarette in 8 hours if they feel “free.”

Gable and Bogart

B) Masculine? Who are the best examples of Hollywood’s Golden era of  “masculinity” and smoking? Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable. Bogart made smoking cool. He also died at age 57 of esophagus cancer. Gable made smoking look suave. He died of a heart attack at 59. (I would love to post a photo of Bogart’s last year alive, but you know what, there aren’t any. He didn’t allow any photos to be taken of him while he was dying from cancer.)

C) Tobacco made America? Tobacco made the South … sort  of. So did cotton, but what really made the South wasn’t tobacco or cotton, it was slaves. What made America? The railroads did. Industry did. The oil industry did. Henry Ford did. Tobacco was never big north of Kentucky or west of Arkansas. It made a handful of people filthy rich … and killed millions in the process.




Leonard Cohen celebrates his 80th … by lighting up



Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen last week celebrated his 80th birthday by announcing he would commemorate the day by smoking a cigarette.

Cohen, who was famous back in the day for being the last of the chain-smoking lounge singers, actually quit smoking 30 years ago.

According to this CBC article:

Cohen, who vowed to start smoking when he turned 80, told the crowd when asked if he would start next week: “Yes, does anybody have a cigarette?

“But quite seriously, does anyone know where you can buy a Turkish or Greek cigarette?” he said to laughs. “I’m looking forward to that first smoke. I’ve been thinking about that for 30 years. It’s one of the few consistent strings of thoughts I’ve been able to locate.”

Leonard Cohen

I found this kind of an interesting story and I discovered a blog dedicated to Leonard Cohen with an entry about how he went from the “Marlboro Man” to an “anti-smoking troubadour.” The post focuses on how Cohen’s song “Everybody Knows” was used in an Australian anti-smoking campaign. This line in “Everybody Knows” which is apparently about cocaine, could easily apply to cigarettes:

“And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two”

There are a bunch of articles and links on this blog about interviews done with Leonard Cohen in which he is chain-smoking through the interview. Here is my favourite entry on this post:

Cigarettes, once an obligatory accoutrement for Cohen, have apparently been vanquished. In a June 12, 2008 interview, Cohen discusses his drinking and smoking patterns on earlier tours and how he stopped smoking:

Q: You’ve been working in a room for years; now you’re on a stage. What are the pros and cons?

A: This way, without drinking and smoking, it’s a very, very different situation. Anyone who’s been a heavy drinker and heavy smoker and has the good future to survive that and give it up knows what a very different kind of daily existence one has. I was smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes a day. And I was drinking heavily on these tours.

Q: How did you stop drinking? Did you go into a program?

A: I lost my taste for it. Just like cigarettes. I lost my taste.


The point of the blog post is that while Cohen quit smoking himself, he kind of epitomized the idea that cigarettes were cool in the 70s and 80s, and when asked why he quit, didn’t exactly come across as an advocate against cigarettes. He just said he simply quit. Here is the ad (Warning, Australian ads are really graphic):



Jay Cutler is one smokin’ dude

jay cutler 3

OK, I found this site just bust up funny.

Someone set up a site with Jay Cutler, one of the poutiest looking players in the NFL, with a bunch of photoshopped images of cigarettes in his mouth because it looks like Jay is always attempting to look too cool for school (I really have no idea if Jay Cutler even smokes, doubtful, since he’s an athlete and a diabetic).

Rumour is (a very unconfirmed rumour, I admit), is that one of the reasons that Jay Cutler looks like he is always pouting and one of the reasons he rarely shows much emotion is that he is has a high-functioning mild form of Asperger’s. Again, if you go online, you will find a million links about Cutler’s supposed Asperger’s, but absolutely zero confirmation. It’s something he’s never confirmed. (If it’s not Asperger’s, I wonder if it’s some other kind of disorder, like social anxiety disorder like Zach Grienke of the Dodgers, who very similarly always seems to have an expression of simply not caring.)

I first heard about these smoking photos from the Simpsons, which had a cartoon of Jay Cutler smoking.

In any case, I really laughed out loud looking at some of these photos. Ther’s about 50 of them on this site, so I’m not going to download them all, click on the link to see them all. Enjoy.




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Smoking rate in New York City goes up

new york city

Weird story and a little troubling, one that goes against the national trend. Recent data shows that the smoking rate in New York City — yes, rabidly anti-smoking New York City, has actually went up from 2010, and not by a tiny amount Officials are blaming budget cuts to education for the rise in smoking rates.

The smoking rate in New York is still relatively low. According to new data, the rate was 16.1 percent in 2013, up from 14 percent in 2010. The national average is around 18 percent, which is down fairly dramatically from about 10 years ago, when it was about 21 percent (thanks to smoking bans, higher cigarettes taxes, less smoking in movies, more kids buying a clue about cigarettes — and frankly, the rise of vaping I think is becoming a big factor in declining smoking rates.).

What is striking about that increase is New York City has some ridiculously high cigarette taxes (on top of some high New York State cigarette taxes), among the highest in the nation, and a pack of cigarettes there can cost up to $12 to $14.

According to the Daily News story:

The city’s annual tobacco control budget, which pays for anti-smoking programs and marketing campaigns, has been cut almost in half since 2009, to $7.1 million from $13.5 million.

Huh, you’d think with the smoking rate going up, New York City would have more tax revenue to fund tobacco education programs.

New York City had one of the most adamantly anti-smoking mayors in the country, Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg not only signed ordinances banning smoking in bars and restaurants,he raised cigarette taxes in New York and even signed an ordinance outlawing sales to adults under 21.

Here is one of the great New York City funded anti-smoking commercials.


CDC: E-cig use more than doubles among teens — see, I TOLD YOU

Electronic cigarette

The Centers for Disease Control released a report last month (in a major catch-up mode right now with the Lounge going down for a couple of weeks), that the use of e-cigs  more than doubled from 2011-2012.

I reiterate … I reiterate until I make your eyes bleed reading it, I don’t have a problem with e-cigs EXCEPT for the way they are being marketed to kids. Sure enough, according to the CDC, the use of e-cigs rose from 4.7 in 2011 to more than 10 percent in 2012 among high school and middle school kids (I cringe at what the rate is today, it takes a year or two to compile this data.). 10 percent in 2012? That rate might be 25 or 30 percent by 2014.

According to the CDC press release:

“These data show a dramatic rise in usage of e-cigarettes by youth, and this is cause for great concern as we don’t yet understand the long-term effects of these novel tobacco products,” said Mitch Zeller, director of FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products. “These findings reinforce why the FDA intends to expand its authority over all tobacco products and establish a comprehensive and appropriate regulatory framework to reduce disease and death from tobacco use.”

Unlike cigarettes, there are absolutely no regulations regarding the marketing of e-cigs. Big Tobacco in the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement agreed to stop marketing — at least blatantly marketing — to teens. That meant no more Joe Camel, and no more product placement of tobacco products in PG and PG-13 movies. The MSA was a badly flawed agreement, but that is genuinely one of  the really good things that came out of it — marketing of tobacco products to kids (or what Big Tobacco calls, “new smokers,”) has ostensibly stopped.

However, the FDA recently completely punted on controlling the marketing of e-cigs to kids. The FDA did ban e-cig sales to minors, but run away like a spinless banshee from the idea of controlling the advertising of e-cigs, apparently paranoid over a First Amendment lawsuit (never mind the fact that nicotine is now officially a federally controlled substance, like Vicodin or codeine, which means the FDA has the regulatory authority over how it’s promoted … it’s THEM, not ME). Me — and thousands of others, hopefully — wrote the FDA about this and told them they were screwing the pooch on this issue and hopefully when the agency releases the final version of its regs, it will show more spine over marketing of e-cigs. Then again, I’m not holding my breath.

I’m perfectly OK with e-cigs being used by people trying to quit cigarettes, especially as a last resort when all else has failed, in fact I’ve urged my brother to try e-cigs, but I am not OK with kids using e-cigs instead of cigarettes. E-cigs still contain nicotine, which is a staggering addictive substance and it doesn’t do anyone any good for kids to get physically addicted to something that has little other value than a short-term jolt of energy.




WHO: Regulate e-cigs, control marketing to teens

I missed this a couple of weeks ago. The World Health Organization came out with a very strongly worded statement ripping e-cigs, over both their marketing and lack of regulations.

WHO, a United Nations agency, joins the American Heart Association in expressing strong concerns about the exponential growth of mostly unregulated e-cigs. WHO specifically talks about its concerns that the tobacco industry, seeing cigarettes in decline and a booming new industry in e-cigs, is getting aggressively involved in the e-cig business. (Blu E-Cigarettes, which is the No. 1 e-cig company, was purchased last year by Lorillard, which in turn is being purchased by RJ Reynolds.

In its report, released late last month, WHO specifically calls for:

* Stopping the marketing to teens

* Banning them in public places

I’m 100 percent for the FDA to control the marketing of e-cigs to teenagers, as I see this as by far the biggest problem with e-cigs. More and more kids instead of becoming addicted to nicotine through cigarettes, are becoming just as addicted to nicotine through e-cigs. And the industry has been incredibly blatant in marketing to kids. In my opinion, the FDA has this power over tobacco products because tobacco products contain a controlled substance — nicotine — and thus the agency has the same power over e-cig marketing. However, in its draft regulations on e-cigs released several months ago, the FDA completely punted on the marketing issue and instead focused on banning sales to teenagers, which to me is just a start.

I’m not so worked up about banning them in public places, at least not yet, because the effects of the e-cigs’ steam doesn’t appear to be nearly as bad as cigarette smoke (studies are mixed on this and I’m trying to keep an open mind on it.)

WHO doesn’t have any regulatory authority so its report is simply a recommendation to world governments.

Not everyone is on board with the WHO recommendations as a number of public health officials signed a letter asking WHO not to overreact and over-regulate e-cigs because of their potential health benefits of helping some smokers quit.


CVS pulls all tobacco products, changes name

lockup_fnalv6 As the company announced a few months ago, CVS went ahead this week and pulled all tobacco products off its shelves — and changed its name to CVS Health in conjunction with this move. However, CVS, the second largest drug store company in the U.S., made the decision more quickly than they announced they would. It was supposed to happen in October, but they went ahead and made the change shortly after Labor Day. CVS is expected to lose up to $2 billion a year in retail sales, but this move is also part of a “rebranding” for the chain  to become more of a health care provider, rather than a general drug store with film development, candy, office supplies, etc. So, the company is looking to make up for those losses by making more money on health care services, products, etc. This is according to the New York Times

The decision to stop selling cigarettes is a strategic move as pharmacies across the country jockey for a piece of the growing health care industry. Rebranding itself as a company focused on health could prove lucrative for the drugstore as it seeks to appeal to medical partners that can help it bridge the gap between customers and their doctors.

Again, from the New York Times:

CVS has entered partnerships with more than 40 health systems, including local hospitals, to help run its clinics. The company opened 32 clinics last quarter and is on track to open at least 150 more this year, Carolyn Castel, a CVS spokeswoman, said. Revenues at the clinics are up 24 percent in the second quarter, compared with a year earlier, and the company plans to operate 1,500 clinics by 2017, CVS said.

As CVS seeks new health partners, its decision to end cigarette sales may make it more appealing than its tobacco-selling rivals.

“Think of it this way: Would you find cigarette machines or retail stores in the gift shops in a hospital selling cigarettes? Of course not,” said Nancy Copperman, the corporate director of public health initiatives for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, a minute clinic partner. “I think it does give them a leg up.”

Interestingly, according to the Washington Post, CVS Health also will not sell e-cigarettes either.

No electronic cigarette sales, either. CVS doesn’t sell electronic cigarettes, but after making its tobacco announcement in February, Merlo said the company was monitoring Food and Drug Administration action on the products. Still, it sounds like CVS won’t lift its current ban on e-cigarettes. “We don’t carry them today, and we don’t have plans to carry them,” Chief Executive Officer Larry Merlo said on Tuesday.