March 15th, 2012
In today’s top news, former Chicago governor Rod Blagojevich begins his 14-year prison sentence today, Kony 2012 screenings are halted in Northern Uganda after residents express outrage and Memphis will finally name a street after Martin Luther King Jr. 40 years after his death.
Former Chicago governor Rod Blagojevich begins his 14-year prison sentence today. [BET]
Kony 2012 screenings halted in Northern Uganda after residents express outrage. [BBC]
Memphis to finally name a street after Martin Luther King Jr. 40 years after his death. [CNN]
The White House is turning its attention to foreign-policy matters this week. [BET]
President Obama says it is not yet time to intervene in Syria. [AJE]
A new book from food justice activist Bryant Terry says that Black people can enjoy vegan food too. [BET]
Study shows that a lack of sleep may cause heavier eating. [WebMD]
Taliban suspends peace talks with the U.S. [Reuters]
Shocking, new anti-smoking campaign sets out to de-glamorize the addictive habit. [Reuters]
Arizona is on pace to have its busiest year for executions. [AP]
June 23rd, 2009
President Obama signed into law Monday legislation that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unprecedented power to help reduce the appeal of tobacco products to children and first-time smokers. Read more.
May 11th, 2009
If a longtime smoker, who happens to be president of the United States, is also pushing for a bill to regulate the marketing and manufacturing of tobacco products, it only seems likely that it would become the law of the land before long. While President Bush sought to squash the bill, under pressure from the $89 billion tobacco industry, Obama, who admittedly has struggled to quit smoking, wants the measure passed. Under a bill proposed in the Senate by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the tobacco industry would have to disclose the ingredients in its products, and the Federal Drug Administration would then have a clear path toward banning a sizable chunk of the most harmful of the estimated 6,000 chemicals used in cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. And would also be able to reduce the amount of nicotine, likely making it easier for smokers to quit. Supporters of the bill say they have more than the 60 votes to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. Many of the bill’s proponents say the law is long overdue. They site statistics from health and medical experts who say that some 400,000 people die from tobacco-related causes each year. “If this happens, and if the FDA uses its powers, it will be an enormous public health achievement,” said Matthew L. Meyers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who has been pushing the legislation for 15 years.
April 14th, 2009
If you’re blowing blunts and smoking cigarettes, you are at an increased risk of developing lung disease, a new study shows. While cigarettes alone are a major source of such obstructive pulmonary diseases as emphysema and chronic bronchitis, when pot smoking is added to the mix, they act “synergistically” to promote the illnesses, researchers report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Read more.
April 3rd, 2009
The U.S. House passed a bill on Thursday allowing the federal government, for the first time, to exert certain controls over the tobacco industry. Under the legislation, which passed 298-112, the Food and Drug Administration has the power to regulate — but not ban — cigarettes and other tobacco products. The Senate will get a crack at the measure in late April, but to pass muster in Congress’ upper chamber, the bill must run the gauntlet of tobacco-state senators. “This is truly a historic day in the fight against tobacco, and I am proud that we have taken such decisive action,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the bill’s sponsor. “Today we have moved to place the regulation of tobacco under FDA in order to protect the public health, and now we all can breathe a little easier.” Despite his own battle with smoking, President Obama has voiced support for the bill – a departure from the Bush administration, which threatened to veto the measure last year. Ever since the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Food and Drug Administration did not have that authority, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and his House counterpart Waxman have advocated laws giving the feds regulatory powers over tobacco products. It was during Waxman’s hearing a decade and a half ago that the executives of the major tobacco companies testified that nicotine was not addictive. What ensued was a deluge of lawsuits against the firms and several capitulations from the tobacco industry. Under Waxman’s Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the FDA couldn’t ban nicotine or tobacco outright, “but the agency had the power to regulate the contents of tobacco products, make their ingredients public, prohibit flavoring, require much larger warning labels and strictly control or prohibit marketing campaigns, especially those geared toward children,” The Associated Press reports. Kennedy has said he will introduce his version of the bill after Congress returns from its April recess. Heading up the opposition forces will likely be Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., although supporters are confident they can clear the 60-vote margin needed to break a filibuster, according to AP. “FDA regulation of cigarettes — the most lethal of all consumer products — is long overdue,” Kennedy said Thursday. “I am confident that the Senate will approve it expeditiously.”
March 16th, 2009
The manufacturer of the so-called “e-cig” assures that its product – a battery-operated, tobacco-free, nicotine-laced, fake cigarette with a tip that glows red – is the first healthy cigarette. Suck on the brown, plastic filter, and the battery warms liquid nicotine stored inside and sends up a harmless puff of smoke. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn’t so sure about the effectiveness or safety of the electronic cigarette. Granted, it lacks the chemicals and tar acquainted with the addictive, real-tobacco cancer stick – inhaling pure liquid nicotine is the only concern – but the feds say more proof is needed before they give their stamp of approval. “Our product is comparable to the nicotine patch except people still get the oral fixation, which they love,” explained Elicko Taieb, CEO of Smoking Everywhere, one of the largest distributors of electronic cigarettes. “There are no ingredients in our e-cigs that can cause cancer. However, it is a pretty new product, so we are not 100 percent sure of the side-effects at this point, but we haven’t heard of any negative side-effects yet, but we are pretty sure they are safe.” However, as far as the FDA is concerned, e-cigs are an unapproved new drug and they lack scientific proof of their safety. “The FDA has been detaining and refusing importations since at least last summer of these so-called ‘electronic cigarettes,’ ” FDA spokeswoman Rita Chappelle told CNN. Dr. Steven Schroeder, physician and smoking cessation expert at the University of California-San Francisco Medical Center, says that “nicotine is not the thing in tobacco smoke that causes cancer, but inhaling pure nicotine may be dangerous. We have no clue what the health effects could be.” The American Cancer Society blames tobacco smoke on nearly 90 percent of lung cancer deaths. “If it is a choice between smoking tobacco product or a nicotine replacement – of course, keep taking the nicotine,” Schroeder said. “It is a heck of a lot healthier than tobacco smoking.” Taieb agrees. “We aren’t claiming electronic cigarettes help you quit altogether, but I promise our product won’t cause cancer. So no matter what way you look at it, it’s the healthier option,” he says. Thousands of e-cigs are sold in the United States daily, and U.S. sales are expected to double in 2009, according to the manufacturer.