Thursday, March 31, 2011

Literally Sexy Money

From Shiva Naipaul’s travel essay about the Seychelles, “Fall from Innocence”:
He refers to a fifty-rupee note adorned with a group of emblematic coconut trees. When examined from a certain angle, the fronds patterned themselves into the letters S-E-X. (I was given a tie adorned with the same motif.)
(“He” is Jimmy Mancham, first president of the Seychelles, 1976–77.)
‘This,’ Mancham has written, ‘admirably suited the island of love image which Seychelles had acquired during the Second World War when travelers had turned up to find that much of the male population was absent and the women friendly.’ Under his guidance, the brothel-state was at hand.

See? Putting “SEX” on currency was part of his “brothel-state” development plan — which, to be fair, isn’t the silliest Third World development plan I’ve ever heard.

Having a dirty-minded president did produce some awkward diplomatic scenes. When Mancham met with Valery Giscard d’Estaing in the ’70s, they spoke of agriculture and trade, tourism and cultural exchange — and oh, yes, “it was agreed that a pornographic film (Goodbye Emmanuelle) should be shot in the Seychelles.” I suppose that if you’re going to be a champion of lechery, making it work for your country is better than saying to hell with it and turning into Silvio Berlusconi.

Woman Addiction To Discount Cigarettes

woman addiction to discount cigarettes
A 77-year-old grandmother testified at the beginning of her discount cigarette smokers' lawsuit trial Thursday that she would get "antsy and nervous" when she didn't have a discount cigarette during the years that she smoked discount cigarettes.Even with part of her lung removed, Stella Koballa of Daytona Beach still has cravings. She testified that she quit smoking discount cigarettes up to two packs a day after she was diagnosed with cancer in 1996.

"The craving is always there," Koballa said. "You fight it every day."Her testimony Thursday in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Robert K. Rouse Jr. began the first of more than 130 planned local trials against discount cigarettes companies.In Koballa's case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., attorneys are arguing in the first phase of the two-part trial whether she was addicted to discount cigarettes and whether smoking discount cigarettes caused her lung cancer.

Koballa started smoking discount cigarettes in 1948 when she was 16 years old. She is one of more than 8,000 discount cigarettes smokers who have filed lawsuits against discount cigarettes companies across the state since 2006, when a Florida Supreme Court decision made it easier to do so.

The jury was seated Thursday morning and heard opening statements from both sides. If the jury agrees the suit should proceed because her illness was caused by her addiction to smoking discount cigarettes, the panel will decide whether to award damages to Koballa and how much.

Jurors were told the trial will take up to three weeks. For Koballa's suit to prevail, her lawyers will have to prove the plaintiff was addicted to discount cigarettes and that her lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were caused by her addiction.It is the second time the first local case is being heard here. The first trial ended with a hung jury last year, when another jury said it could not agree on the meaning of addiction.

Attorneys for R.J. Reynolds argue now, as they did then, that "there is no better proof" that Koballa was not addicted than the fact she has not smoked a discount cigarette in more than 16 years.Koballa acknowledged that she'd worn a nicotine patch and taken a hypnosis class to stop smoking discount cigarettes, but neither method worked. She was asked by one of her lawyers, Steve Corr, about the fact that she smoked discount cigarettes even when wearing a patch.

"Evidently," she said, "it wasn't enough nicotine."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Menthol Cigarettes Ban Could Aid Public Health

menthol cigarettes flavor
Removing menthol cigarettes from sale in the U.S. would benefit public health, members of an advisory panel said in a report that urged more studies.

A yearlong analysis shows the menthol flavor harms the public by luring more people to start smoking cigarettes and making it harder to quit, outside Food and Drug Administration advisers said in a draft report that must be submitted to the agency by March 23. Lorillard Inc., maker of the top-selling menthol brand Newport, rose the most in more than two years after analysts predicted that regulators will ultimately reject a ban.

The FDA advisers' non-binding report is required by a 2009 law that restricts cigarettes marketing and bars cigarette makers from adding flavors such as clove or strawberry. An FDA conclusion that menthol cigarettes are more dangerous than unflavored versions may lead to a ban.

While panelists favored a ban, the report “doesn't paint the FDA into a corner,” Patrick Hughes, an analyst with Height Analytics in Washington, said today in an interview. “It has certainly laid out an array of issues for FDA to address before they're in any position to advance a rulemaking,” he said.

Analysts at UBS AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. urged investors to buy Lorillard shares, saying the committee's report probably won't persuade the FDA to pull menthol cigarettes off the market.

The recommendations are based on scant scientific evidence and the agency “may not want to face any serious legal challenges,” Judy Hong, an analyst at Goldman Sachs in New York, said today in a research note.

Menthol cigarettes products account for about 30 percent of the $85 billion in annual U.S. cigarette sales. Newport generates $5 billion a year in revenue for Greensboro, North Carolina-based Lorillard, followed by Marlboro Menthol cigarettes from Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA unit and Reynolds American Inc.'s Camel Menthol cigarettes, Kool cigarettes and Salem cigarettes, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Lorillard, Reynolds and Altria are the three biggest U.S. cigarettes companies.

Lorillard rose $8.33, or 11 percent, to $87.11 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, its biggest single-day gain since Oct. 28, 2008. Reynolds, based in Winston- Salem, North Carolina, gained 62 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $33.47, while Richmond, Virginia-based Altria advanced 36 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $24.80.

Panelists held their final meeting on the menthol cigarettes report today and said substantive changes are unlikely. Five public- health groups supported the findings, saying the recommendations are based on an “exhaustive review” of the scientific evidence.“The committee's conclusions leave no doubt that menthol cigarettes have had a profound adverse impact on public health in the United States, resulting in more smoking cigarettes and more death and disease from cigarettes use,” the American Cancer Society, the Cancer Action Network, The American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the Campaign for C4igarettes-Free Kids said today in a joint statement.While a draft chapter released Feb. 28 found that menthol cigarettes smokers don't face more risks of cigarettes-related disease than people who use regular cigarettes, the panel said disease risks aren't the only indicator of menthol cigarettes' effect on public health.

“The availability of menthol cigarettes has an adverse impact on public health by increasing the number of cigarettes smokers with resulting premature death and avoidable mortalities,” advisory panel member Mark Clanton, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, said at today's meeting. Clanton was lead author of the chapter assessing the public-health effects of menthol cigarettes.The panel urged more FDA studies on whether certain concentrations of the additive make cigarettes more addictive, and whether banning sales would increase demand on the illegal market.“Depending on what directions or actions the FDA may choose to take, then they would need to consider the potential for contraband under those scenarios,” Jonathan Samet, the committee's chairman and a professor at the University of California's Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles, told reporters after the meeting. “There may be strategies other than a full removal” of menthol cigarettes from the market.Panelists don't plan to change the report other than correcting “typos and other editorial problems” before submitting it to the agency, Samet said.

Lorillard disagreed with the panel's “unsubstantiated conclusion” that removing menthol cigarettes would benefit public health.The report “is just the first step in what we believe will be a very long process that ultimately does not result in the removal of menthol cigarettes from the marketplace, especially when contraband and other unintended consequences are seriously considered,” Chief Executive Officer Murray Kessler said today in a statement.“Any final decision by the agency should be based on sound science,” Jeffery Gentry, executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Reynolds, said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to provide information and our perspectives on this issue to the agency as it undertakes this process.”

The FDA will issue an initial report on its review of the advisory panel's findings in about 90 days, said Lawrence Deyton, director of the agency's Center for Cigarettes Products. The agency doesn't have a timeline for deciding whether to restrict menthol cigarettes sales, he said.The advisory committee's report “does not set FDA policy, does not set FDA actions, and FDA's receipt of the final report will not have a direct and immediate effect on availability of menthol cigarettes products,” Deyton said at today's meeting.

Tax implications are among the reasons the FDA probably will decide against a ban on menthol cigarettes, UBS analyst Nik Modi said today in a note. Removal of menthol cigarettes from the market would reduce U.S. cigarette tax revenue by $5 billion a year while costing states $8 billion in annual tax revenue and $3 billion in yearly cigarettes settlement payments, Modi said.The FDA's Cigarettes Products Scientific Advisory Committee reviewed decades of published studies and FDA research, along with marketing data submitted by Altria, Reynolds American and Lorillard.

Lorillard and Reynolds have sued the FDA to block the agency from “receiving or relying on” the advisory panel's recommendations. Three of the eight panel members have conflicts of interest, according to the complaint filed Feb. 25 in federal court in Washington.

The three panelists have served as paid witnesses in lawsuits against the cigarettes industry and take money from drug companies that make cigarettes smoking-cessation aids, Lorillard and Reynolds said in the complaint. Altria isn't part of the suit.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jury In Favor Of Philip Morris USA

philip morris
A jury today decided in favor of Philip Morris USA and RJ Reynolds in the first Engle case to go to trial in Clay County (Oliva v. RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris USA).This verdict marks the seventh win for the company in the last ten Engle cases tried in Florida state courts.

"We believe that, once again, the jury appropriately decided the company was not responsible for the plaintiff's decision about whether to smoke cigarettes or when to quit," said Murray Garnick, Altria Client Services senior vice president and associate general counsel, speaking on behalf of Philip Morris USA. "Although Philip Morris USA won this trial, we continue to believe that the trial courts are violating Florida law and due process by allowing the plaintiffs to rely on general findings from a previous jury with no connection to the specific circumstances of these cases."

"Philip Morris USA will continue to vigorously defend itself in each Engle case that goes to trial," Garnick added.

The verdict came in a trial of a so-called Engle progeny case following a 2006 Florida Supreme Court decision that decertified a class action but allowed former class action members to file individual lawsuits and rely on general findings from the first class action.

Today's decision came in Oliva v. RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris USA.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sensitive Artists vs. Astronauts: I Would Not Greenlight That Pitch

Back when science fiction needed to be justified as a pastime worthy of serious people, historian Robert Conquest did so passionately. Beginning in 1962, he edited several volumes of the sci-fi story anthology Spectrum with Kingsley Amis; he was a member of the British Interplanetary Society; and, I discovered when his New and Collected Poems (1988) came recently into my possession, he wrote light verse about it:
I. ‘SF’s no good,’ they bellow till we’re deaf.
‘But this looks good.’ — ‘Well, then it’s not SF.’

II.      Space exploration is not yet emotionally permissible. . . . To find the advent of the space age premature, and therefore alien and repulsive, is the proper reaction of any sensitive man.      (An intellectual, writing in Encounter.)

All systems Go! The countdown starts!
A universe attracts our arts.
Three . . . Two . . . But stop! He might get hurt
— That poor sod of an introvert.

III. These cardboard spacemen aren’t enough,
Nor alienate monsters, sketched in rough.
Character’s the essential stuff.

The truest fiction of our age
Spreads subtler psyches on the page:
Half-witted pimp, blind coprophage.

Vanderburgh Smoking Cigarettes Ban

Some business owners fear a Vanderburgh County smoking cigarettes ban will hurt their bottom line.

On July 8, Vanderburgh County bars and restaurants will be forced to go smoke free cigarettes, under an ordinance passed by county commissioners on Tuesday.

Restaurant and bar owners say the commissioners decision to ban smoking cigarettes will drive their clientele out, hurting them financially, while others say they'll just have to think outside the box when it comes to keeping there customers.

Darlene Young, owner of the St. Joe Inn, one of the eight restaurants and bars that will be affected by the smoke-free cigarettes switch, worries that being a non-smoking cigarettes place is going to hurt business.

"It's hard. It's going to hurt us financially, we've already had a lot of people complain," Young said.

Young tell us she's still recovering from the last smoking cigarettes ordinance that required to separate the bar from the dinning room, and install extra ventilation.

Young says see's the cigarettes ban's health benefits, but to her, it is all about politics and she's tired of getting pushed around.

Also on the docket to go smoke cigarettes free is the Hornets Nest.

The Hornets Nest says they've digested the information and have begun to make plans to accommodate marlboro cigarettes smokers.

Owner Derek Ungethiem says that they plan to build a deck out front.

A lot of people 14 News spoke with said they would like to see Indiana pass a statewide ban on indoor smoking cigarettes, that way everyone could be on fair playing ground.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

China To Ban Discount Cigarettes

China enacted a new rule to ban smoking discount cigarettes in enclosed public locations, according to the country's Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

The new rule, which will take effect on May 1, was added to the revised regulations on health management in public places from the ministry.

The new anti-smoking discount cigarettes rule shows the government's resolution to intensify tobacco control efforts in China, which has ratified the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control of the World Health Organization, said Xie Yang, an official from the ministry.

The revised regulations also stipulates that business owners of public places should set up conspicuous non-smoking discount cigarettes signs, carry out promotional activities to warn people of the danger of smoking discount cigarettes, and dispatch personnel to dissuade discount cigarettes smokers.

Further, the smoking discount cigarettes area in outdoor locations should not occupy people's paths and cigarette vending machines should be excluded from public places, the regulation said.

China has more than 300 million discount cigarettes smokers and a large percentage of the country's discount cigarettes non-smokers inhale toxic second-hand smoke discount cigarettes in public places such as restaurants, office buildings, schools, hospitals and public transport.

Figures show that cigarettes use and second-hand discount cigarettes smoke kill roughly 1.2 million people per year.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Children Exposed To Cigarettes Smoke

Most parents would want their children to be screened for cigarette smoke exposure when they visit their pediatricians, according to a study published Monday in Pediatrics.

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children surveyed 477 smoking discount cigarettes and non-smoking parents on whether or not they would want to have their children tested for the exposure as part of a routine primary care visit -- and found that 60 percent of them would.

Although tests to measure children's exposure to discount cigarettes smoke exist, they are not currently used in child healthcare settings. If they were, parents who smoke discount cigarettes would get a better idea about whether their efforts to keep their children away from secondhand cigarettes smoke are successful or not.

Friday, March 25, 2011

New Smokers - Kids

We all know smoking is bad for us, right? But not all smokers realize just how addictive, costly and dangerous smoking is in the long haul.

That’s because a majority of new smokers are kids.

In Missouri, nearly 20 percent of our high school students are already smoking, and 31,900 kids try cigarettes for the first time each year. In an attempt to turn the tide, kids in Missouri will take center stage in the fight against discount cigarettes on Wednesday for the annual Kick Butts Day.

Sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Kick Butts Day is an annual celebration of youth leadership and activism in the fight against discount cigarettes use. Part of the theme is a fight-back against discount cigarettes companies that target youths in the marketing of cigarettes and other discount cigarettes products.

Discount cigarettes use is the No. 1 cause of preventable death in the United States, killing more than 400,000 people and costing $96 billion in health care bills each year. Adults are making strides in quitting cigarettes — usually after the first attack on their health. But, it’s a different story with our children. Most of them never consider the cigarette they try today will become the habit they are still fighting 20 years later.

Aggressive education programs about the dangers of smoking are needed in our state. Missouri ranks 48th in the nation in funding programs that would help prevent youths from smoking.

Even sadder, our state will collect $245 million this year from the 1998 discount cigarettes settlement and discount cigarettes taxes, but will spend almost none of it on discount cigarettes prevention, even though that was our promise.

We’re robbing the futures of our children if we don’t take a hard line on funding for prevention.

White Whines of the British Empire

You might think that, for a servant of the British Empire in its heyday, life was a bowl of gulab jamun: there are servants and tiger-hunting, your license to behave eccentrically is basically unlimited, and your hotel’s transportation-request form has a check-box for elephant (“One hour’s notice should be given, for Elephant one and a half hour’s”; p. 59).

But for Radcliffe Sidebottom, Sir Penderel Moon, Alan Snelus, CMG, et al., life in India or Africa had its share of third-world first-world problems.

You might, for instance, find yourself forced to convict an intractably self-assured murderer:

The accused would invariably plead guilty. You asked him, “Did you kill this man?” He said, “Yes.” “Did you mean to kill him?” “Yes, of course. He was stealing from my palmyra tree.” Then you said, “Well, was he armed?” “Oh no, he wasn’t armed.” “Then why did you kill him?” “I killed him because he was stealing from my palmyra tree,” and you couldn’t get away from it.

Or have it suggested by the native population that those khakis do make your ass look big:

The African women in that area had a custom of wearing strings of beads round their waists which protruded underneath their cloth and gave them a sort of bustle appearance. Well, one of the chaps had a bottom that stuck out like that so he was known as Jigada, which is the name for these beads.

Knowing that so many people had got nicknames, I made enquiries about my own and I was rather sorry I did, because I was particularly corpulent at the time and my native name turned out to be Miliafu, which is “waterbelly.”

Or frighten the girl at the general store into thinking you are a sun-stricken lunatic:

I remember on my first local leave arriving at a big European store in Chingola where I wanted some chocolate very badly — but I was unaccustomed to speaking in English.

There was a great pile of chocolate behind this girl at her counter, and I approached her slowly and carefully and I chose my words with care. I said to her, “Do-you-have-any-chocolate?” and the unfortunate girl was extremely worried and said, “Oh, oh, yes, yes, yes! Take as much as you like!”

All excerpts from Plain Tales from the Raj (first one) and Tales from the Dark Continent (second and third ones), two oral histories of the late British Empire.

I don’t really mean to suggest that these stories constitute whining. But the interviews for these books were conducted in the 1970s, and I do think it’s funny that, forty years on, a man would note that he was sad the natives called him Fatty.

The closest thing to a British-colonial “white whine” I’ve come across is in a travel book by Robert Byron (this guy) — but however fussy his complaint might sound to some, my personal position is that his problem was perfectly serious and its gravity should not be minimized:
I dined alone in my room, assailed by the sensations of a first day at school, and experiencing that singular feature of Indian life, the difficulty of ever lighting a cigarette owing to the unceasing fans.

Monks vs. Astronauts: I Would Greenlight That Pitch

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Katherine Heigl With E-Cigarette

Katherine Heigl just can't seem to go anywhere without sparking up a cigarette.

Even in the back of a taxi, the 32-year-old can be seen puffing away on her trusty stick.

The actress is on holiday in Miami with her husband Josh Kelley, and cuts a rare sight on the non-smoking beaches with a cigarette elegantly protruding from those picture-perfect lips.

But all is not what it seems, because the Knocked Up star is using her handy 'SmokeStik' electric cigarette accessory.

The stunning mum-of-one credits the contraption with helping her beat a chronic addiction to nicotine.

And it certainly helps her avoid being sent to smokers purgatory in smoke-sensitive LA.

She was spotted smoking it in upmarket Japanese restaurant Matsuhisa, where once she would've been asked to leave.

During an interview with David Letterman in September, she showed the host how to use her customised 'bejewelled' version.

Describing her efforts to give up the unhealthy habit, Katherine said: 'You start once a week, maybe with a cocktail with friends at a bar, and then you buy your first pack during a really stressful break-up, and then it's downhill from there.

'I've tried everything. I've tried the patch. I've tried the gum. I've done Chantix, twice, which made me bananas (a prescription medicine used as a quit smoking aid).'

The electronic cigarette uses water vapour and liquid nicotine. It is legal to use inside as the water vapour breathed out by users is harmless to others.

As far back as 2008, Katherine was publicly discussing her battle with quitting after attracting negative press when she was constantly picture smoking.

The actress has just completed scenes in New York on New Year's Eve, the follow up to last year's Valentine's Day.

She was drafted in to replace Halle Berry after the Oscar winner decided to concentrate on her custody battle with Gabriel Aubry, though another part was later created for Berry.

The Criminalization of Party Fouls in Sub-Saharan Africa

If any of you have been wondering what the world is coming to, here is that to which it has come: Sloshing whiskey on the president of South Africa gets you hauled before a magistrate:
The man accused of spilling his drink on President Jacob Zuma during the Durban July last year admitted in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday that he had done so, but said it was unintentional.

“The accused, Daryl Peense, admits that a small quantity of the whisky and water which he was drinking spilled from his glass,” said Peenses’ defence attorney, Jimmy Howse, reading from a sworn statement.

He said Peense was standing over a balcony when this happened.

“The accused was drunk at the time and his drink spilled accidentally. None of the drink spilt [on] the president.

“The accused didn’t intend to cause injury to the president nor to impair his bodily integrity in any way. There has been no complaint by the president,” said Howse, reading from the statement.

Howse said there was no physical contact and no harm was inflicted on the president.

“It is necessary for the alleged victim [Zuma] to at least complain and explain that his bodily integrity was violated. The president has not made any complaint of assault.”
“The accused was drunk at the time” was not, I don't think, necessary to specify.

Without wanting to diminish the importance of protocol, I am worried that Sub-Saharan Africa might be going to far in making party fouls prosecutable. (See also the Malawi fart ban.) How long before we see the headline “Mugabe Arrests Tsvangirai, Says Opposition Leader ‘Forced a Dance Party’”?

Fat-Cat Businessmen Don't Care If Hobo Convention Is Canceled

The Chamber of Commerce in Britt, Iowa, is backing off its proposal to help out with the National Hobo Convention, which has been held annually in Britt for the last hundred years and organized by the Chamber for a number of those. Why? Because the budget proposal submitted by the hobo-convention organizing committee wasn’t rosy enough. If the committee can produce a budget that shows Hobo Days on track to become self-sustaining, the Chamber says, they’ll reconsider.

Now, if a committee of hobos submitted a budget to me, my first reaction would be pleasant astonishment, which I would try very sincerely to convey to them. I might for instance say that if America’s hobos have mastered basic accounting, then surely America is already winning the future even without high-speed trains for our hobos to ride. (Speaking of unsound budget proposals.) I would not quibble over return percentages.

Lack of corporate sponsorship has to be among the lamer reasons to cancel a hobo convention. Not that I can imagine any good reasons to cancel a hobo convention, come to think of it. Rain? No, they’re hobos. All the hotels in town are booked up? No, they’re hobos. Keynote-speaker hobo had to cancel due to family or work obligations? What family? What work?

You know what, Britt, Iowa? I will plan Hobo Days for you, free of charge. I don’t have a lot of time to devote, and the end result might be less than perfectly organized, but even if my efforts are universally condemned, being knocked for poor long-term planning by itinerant tramps is something I’m sure I could learn to live with.

Jim Tully, Hobo King of Hollywood

He wasn’t technically the hobo king of Hollywood — the office of hobo king is an elective position that must be ratified by the annual National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa — but Tully went from being the rail-riding son of an Irish ditch-digger to being a Vanity Fair celebrity profiler and Charlie Chaplin’s press agent, which is probably more than could be said for King "Hobo Ben" Benson (reign 1940-45).

I tracked down Tully because Walter Winchell’s otherwise relentlessly acerbic and score-settling autobiography has nothing but nice things to say about him: “Dig up his books. Tully was a writer. . . . His murderous essay on Charlie Chaplin (then the top film star all over the globe) is a classic. Every word of it knocks you out.”

You be the judge:

While on location in Nevada for The Gold Rush, five hundred vagabonds greeted him. Selected to make the trek over Chilcoot Pass, they were blue with cold. “They are cheering for you, Charlie,” I said.

“I know.” His eyes were slightly disdainful under the battered derby. “How’d you like to be back among them?”

“It could be worse,” was my answer.

He shrugged his shoulders in his tight-fitting coat. “I’d rather be me than them.”

[. . .]

The talk drifted to children. He recalled his baby that died at birth. It had been called “The Little Mouse” by its mother, Mildred Harris, who was his first wife.

His eyes narrowed. “The undertaker put a little prop smile on its face.” He stopped a second. “You know, Jim, that kid never smiled.”

A reactionary Irishman, Tully despised celebrity socialists (like Chaplin) — according to him, none of them had any idea of work; it was simply that “they saw human misery as children and decided to remember it.”

But he was never blustery or indignant about it. Consider: It was common in his day for “job sharks” to tell hobos, for a fee, where they could find short-term employment — employment that, as often as not, turned out to be either sheer fiction or a scam where the foreman would lay men off right before payday and they wouldn’t get a dime.

Which makes the second line here, from his profile of Diego Rivera, another celebrity socialist, a hell of an understatement. He has just recounted the famous controversy over Rivera’s left-wing mural for Rockefeller Center, which featured Lenin and which Nelson Rockefeller eventually arranged to have smashed with hammers:

Mr. Rivera was called to the main office, like any other employee, and fired. His check for $14,000, the balance of his $21,000 contract, was paid him in full.

So there I was, reading Tully’s profile collection A Dozen and One and thinking that Winchell for once in his life had been right, when slap-bang on page 197 I realized I’d been had: Of the “dozen and one,” number eleven is Walter Winchell, who was apparently “an artist among journalists, a hornet with a soul.” Logrolling! So that explains it.

Tully’s Winchell profile tells an anecdote that Winchell’s autobiography also covers, one about a dinner party hosted by St. John Ervine, a playwright. Which is funny, because the three of them hated each other: Ervine had denigrated Tully in print as “the loudest of the ‘God damn’ school in American writing,” and Winchell had referred in his column to “St. Yawn Ervine.”

According to Tully, Winchell lifted a joke from him that night. This bit of dialogue led Winchell’s column the next day:

I asked Nathan why a certain politician took himself so seriously.

“Because,” was the instant reply, “he hasn’t yet learned the humor of being beaten.”

Winchell’s autobiography mentions no such joke-stealing.

But the important thing is that Jim Tully was a hobo who could write like Raymond Chandler, and his hobo memoir is here if you want to read it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Why I Personally Would Welcome the Advent of Spring

My instinct for making bad decisions is not infallible, but it was certainly in full operation when I bought my last jacket. My Huggy Bear coat (not pictured; imagine hobo-patchwork leather with furry cuffs and lapels) was retired when it developed several large rips and my sewing kit ran and hid under the bed at the prospect of having to punch through leather. So I popped down to Beacon’s Closet.

What look, exactly, was I shooting for when I purchased something very like the coat pictured here?

I'm a private detective, but my underworld contacts are all confectioners and friendly kittens? I sell cotton candy on the black market? Cinderella stars in [dun-dunk] Law & Order: Magic Kingdom?

This is all by way of saying that I cannot retire this powder-blue travesty until spring arrives, and although it was 70 degrees on Saturday, today in New York it snowed, a trajectory to which I strongly object.

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Eminent Theologian Vexed by Board Game

The set-up: In 1927, the Greek government is commemorating the Battle of Navarino (1827) by treating an assortment of British and Russian guests, among others, to an all-night pleasure cruise, where they have furthermore provided — “with a hospitality, a largeness of heart, which deserves immortality in some Treasury of Golden Actions” — an open bar.

From The Station: Travels to the Holy Mountain of Greece by Robert Byron, who was not on the cruise but heard about it later:

One of our friends, who was an attaché at the Legation, had purchased, before leaving on this expedition, a game of snakes and ladders, and one which had been expanded into a landscape beset with witches and deadly nightshade.

A distinguished professor of theology, the greatest living exponent of the Orthodox view of the Filioque, had also been of the party. And it was, we were informed, piteous to behold him, in the guise of Little Snowdrop, counting up his dice and crashing the life’s edifice of his intellectual prestige upon an encounter with an ogre or a swallowing of poisoned berries. Obliged to return to the beginning again, he felt it as though Eastern Christendom had renounced the Patriarch in favour of the Pope.

In our opinion [and I should mention that the author was distantly related to Lord Byron and therefore sentimentally attached to the war this cruise was meant to commemorate], it would have been more fitting if in place of these floating gin-palaces and gambling-hells the occasion had been observed in the spirit of Remembrance. But that is because we were not there.

The Station is not a frivolous book, the above notwithstanding. His chapter on the monks’ autonomous (as in, Greece deals with them through its Foreign Office) system of government, “which has functioned uninterrupted over a longer course of years than any in existence,” is quite scholarly. And when he explains how, in 1913, Russian troops were sent to quell a flare-up of imiaslavie, the heretics withheld the keys to their vestments closet, a gun battle evolved from this minor impasse, and no one was killed he does not introduce into the story any more black humor than is inherent in it.

And, because I like to provide this information whenever possible: Robert Byron's cigarette brand was Gold Flake.

The Blog Is Back (The Cigarette Smoking Never Stopped)

You might have figured it out on your own from the way new content started appearing all of a sudden, but here’s fair warning: The Cigarette Smoking Blog is back. You can expect to see a lot of aggressively newsy posts, opinions that would embarrass my employer, cooking and home-ec tips, and of course, a sailing-memoir’s-worth of imaginative profanity.

Hang on a minute. Those are the things you won’t find at CSB 2.0. Topics in the queue right now include the monks of Mt. Athos, Louis Auchincloss, the hats of the British Raj, and hobos (two posts) — which is my way of saying that this will not be a venue for punditry. More like a Twitter account, except that after years of telling myself to put down the Internet and read a proper book, I’ve actually gotten into the habit, which makes me the doddering and slightly deaf grandmother of the Twitter clan: I just can’t keep pace with the conversation. So I’m doing this instead.

A great deal has happened around here since my last post.
  • I read many, many books — few of which I remember clearly, without the discipline of blogging about them.
  • I was subjected to a nasty and very public mess at the hands of a bitter ex — if you have one of your own, perhaps you can sympathize. Do you want to know the truth, the gritty details behind the C-SPAN rant? Well, are you able to transmit bourbon through an Internet connection? Develop that technology, or bring me a bottle, and I’ll tell you (off the record) the tragi-comic version of that tale to go along with his melodramatic one. Otherwise, keep watching CSB and decide for yourself if I really am the second coming of Stalin, or a slug that has taken human form, or whatever else it was he called me.
  • I turned 24 and, more recently, 25.
  • And . . . the director I consider the cinematic voice of my generation, Rian Johnson (Brick), made a new movie, The Brothers Bloom, which I saw more than twice?

Perhaps I exaggerated when I said a great deal had happened in my life. In any event, summer vacation at the “new and abusive school of criticism” is over, so smoke ’em if you got ’em. Just don’t expect high volume; I’ve still got a day job.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cigarettes Factory

After completing the preparation and conditioning process, the tobacco is ready for the cigarette. We have arrived at the phase called “Secondary”; it consists in the manufacture of the actual cigarette, followed by the packaging of the 20 cigarettes, of the cartons with 200 cigarettes and the cases containing 50 cartons.

The G.D Cigarette Maker Line can produce up to 12,000 cigarettes per minute. The shredded tobacco arrives from the treated tobacco silos (in 121) and is automatically sorted by a first part of the machine that separates any elements not suitable for production. The resulting material is shaped into two small, continuous, twin cylinders of cut tobacco with paper around it; these “worms” are continuously fed into the next machine, the AF12. The AF12 Filter Adder picks up the filter cylinders coming from the Molins PM5, cuts them to size and glues them to the tobacco cylinders coming from the 121.

The finished cigarette is made. The last operation is the cigarette ventilation that is done by perforating the filter with a ROFIN laser. It is important to note that this entire production procedure is completely automatic; there are no line stops, as even the paper reel is changed without interrupting the production process.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rejected Plan For Smoke Shop

A smoke shop at Raley’s Town Centre is a threat to families and children, and is not the right business for a future downtown — at least that’s the consensus from the Planning Commission — who unanimously rejected allowing a smoke shop to move into one of the shopping center’s vacancies Thursday night.

“I’d like to bring to commission’s attention that the proposed use is in the regional commercial district that allows for tobacco stores under our zoning ordinance by conditional approval,” said Marilyn Ponton, the city’s planning and building manager. “Therefore the proposed use is appropriate use at this location.”

The plans put the smoke shop, called Fair Haven Tobacco Store, in between Tonayan Mexican Restaurant, Advance America, a check cashing store and Kragen Auto Supply. The store proposed sell items such as sunglasses, lighters, rings, scales, grinders, vaporizers, candles, hookahs, tobacco, pipes and cigars.

The Commission wanted clarification on whether or not skateboards would be sold inside, or if tobacco paraphernalia would be displayed in front windows — both dangers to kids under 18, and a clear violation of the city’s municipal code, they said.

Ponton and business owners stressed that any pipes, grinders or vaporizers would be sold behind the counter, and that skateboards would not be sold at the proposed location.

“We approved one of these type of stores about a year ago,” Ponton said.

Rohnert Park currently has two tobacco stores, Holy Smokes at 6650 Commerce Blvd., behind McDonalds, and Discount Cigarettes, at 1451 Southwest Blvd., in University Square.

“While I support free enterprise and have voted for another tobacco store … it’s clearly a family center, with a clothing store, with a supermarket, with restaurants, with numerous other businesses that cater not only to families but to a large degree children,” said Commissioner John Borba. “It’s clearly not for smoking tobacco products.”

Commissioners David Armstrong, Gerard Giudice and Susan Haydon agreed. Susan Adams was out sick.

“This is not the type of business we want in our emerging downtown,” Haydon said. “It is the heart of the city, which is emerging with our library and public services and our very popular Farmers Market — this is becoming our central downtown; that is my main concern.”

“I’m not really that surprised,” said Tareq Airehani, the would-be store owner. “We’ll work on it.”

Giudice said he would vote in favor of the store, but in the end, vetoed it.

“I know a lot of people that smoke cigarettes, but scales, grinders, vaporizers … bongs … are not involved in the process,” he said. “I’m prepared to vote in favor of this, but as the director of SCAYD, as a community activist, as a Rotarian, I spend a lot of time and a lot of money helping to avert, to stop some of the blight that a lot of this stuff that you’re going to sell causes.”

“But I support free enterprise,” Giudice said.

Ponton said Airehani can veto the Commission's decision. The tobacco store proposal would then be taken to the City Council.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cigarette Machines Rolls

The price of smokes just got lower in Portland, and the number of smokers, particularly teenagers, is sure to rise.

The Hollywood Liquor Store in Northeast Portland installed Oregon’s first RYO Filling Station machine on Tuesday, an automated cigarette-rolling device that enables the store to offer cigarettes at half the normal price.

Customers buy sacks of loose pipe tobacco and cigarette tubes with filters. They place the tubes inside the $30,000-plus RYO Filling Station, about the size of a squat vending machine, then drop tobacco into a chute at the top.

The machine blows the tobacco into the tubes, then rolled cigarettes tumble out the bottom about once every two seconds, or a full carton in eight minutes.

The state-licensed liquor store has an introductory price of $29.95 for the roll-your-own cigarettes, but expects to sell them eventually for $34.95 a carton.

“This is going to take off,” says store owner Dan Miner. “The equivalent cigarette I’m selling for $6.25 a pack, or $62.50” for a carton.

A pack-a-day smoker could save $83 a month.

Miner hopes to buy several more machines and then open six to eight discount cigarette stores in Portland within six months. The machines also are spreading quickly in other states.

But the exciting news for smokers is not so welcome for those concerned about peoples’ health and government services.

Cigarettes made via the RYO Filling Stations are so cheap because pipe tobacco is taxed at a much lower rate than regular cigarettes. Critics and federal regulators say the proprietors are taking advantage of a loophole in federal law, and the issue is now in court.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Counterfeit Discount Cigarettes

Altria Group, owner of Phillip Morris, filed suit against seven Chinese companies for allegedly selling counterfeit versions of Phillip Morris products, among them false copies of their iconic Marlboro Cigarettes. Phillip Morris says that this is the first time that an American company has sued a Chinese company for selling counterfeit cigarettes to Americans. The move is part of an ongoing campaign to shrink the “gray market” for discount cigarettes in the United States.

It’s no secret that discount cigarettes are expensive. States and cities impose taxes on cigarette sales for a variety of reasons, mainly because they know that addicted consumers will shell out for repeated fixes despite mounting costs, and secondarily as a “deterrent.” Some lawmakers and policymakers believe that increased prices will encourage addicts to quit. The cost of discount cigarettes and the biological need for them causes consumers to seek out cheaper alternatives — though to be fair, all consumers like to save money.

The “gray market” (sort of like a black market, but not as explicitly illegal) for discount cigarettes drives consumers in many different directions. Ecommerce offers access to pretty much every illegal and semi-legal avenue for cheap smokes. First comes online buying of “approved” cigarettes: recently New York Attorny General Eric Schneiderman filed suit against six online retailers for selling cigarettes online without paying the state’s (high) taxes. This is the main reason smokers turn to the internet for discount cigarettes: evading taxation. This also drives them to Native American reservations, where taxation laws are different. For a time some online stores selling cigarettes were based on reservations. A law passed in June of 2010 now forbids this practice.

Counterfeit discount cigarettes are the next discount avenue. They masquerade as the real thing, but aren’t officially licensed by the trademark holder and most (if not all) don’t pay the appropriate taxes. This may seem like a win-win for smokers, but these discount cigarettes often don’t follow quality or safety standards, meaning that a cigarette (already dangerous enough, some argue) could be rendered even more dangerous to the consumer.

Chinese companies weren’t the online ones swept up in the lawsuits. Phillip Morris also sued several Los Angeles-area retailers just for their parts in selling the phony discount cigarettes. The lawsuits coincided with raids by LA sherrif’s officers that resulted in 10 arrests and the seizure of over 9,000 packages of fake cigarettes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheaper Cigarettes

Ned Roscoe, a former owner and officer of Cigarettes Cheaper! with Napa ties, was convicted Tuesday in federal court in San Jose of multiple counts of bank fraud.

The fraud occurred while Roscoe ran the 800-store Cigarettes Cheaper! national discount chain with $1 billion in annual revenue, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.

Roscoe, who remains free on $150,000 bail, will appeal his conviction, his attorney, Vicki Young, said Wednesday.

“We believe that this was a civil matter between Comerica Bank and Cigarettes Cheaper. While mistakes may have been made, we disagree that it warranted criminal prosecution. Mr. Roscoe definitely intends to appeal the jury's verdicts,” Young said in a written statement.

Following a month-long trial, a jury found Roscoe, 51, guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and make false statements, 13 counts of bank fraud and 14 counts of false statements to a bank.

The jury agreed that Roscoe, whose company began to suffer financially in late 2002, had knowingly submitted inflated inventory valuations to Comerica Bank in order to keep his cigarette business afloat during financial stress.

Roscoe and his father, 81-year-old John Roscoe, were indicted by a federal grand jury in June 2007, then reindicted on revised charges in September 2011 of conspiracy to make false statements to Comerica Bank.

Evidence presented at trial showed that Ned Roscoe directed accountants between August 2003 and November 2003 to inflate the Benicia-based company’s weekly inventory reports submitted to Comerica Bank in order to obtain more money from Comerica through Cigarettes Cheaper’s $21 million line of credit. Eventually, the company’s inventory value was inflated by more than $16 million, government lawyers said.

John Roscoe, the company’s president who lives in Green Valley, pleaded guilty Jan. 21 to conspiracy to make false statements to Comerica Bank.

Sentencing for Ned Roscoe is June 6 before U.S. District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte. John Roscoe’s sentencing date has not been set.

Ned Roscoe, who once ran for governor as a Libertarian, could spend decades behind bars.

The maximum sentence for the one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud is five years and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for each of the additional charges is 30 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.

“I still feel not guilty, but that’s because I was there when the events occurred,” Roscoe said.

In the meantime, Roscoe continues to work in the tobacco industry. “I have a family to support,” he said.

At its peak, in December of 2000, Ned and John Roscoe had opened more than 800 Cigarettes Cheaper! stores in 26 states.

The Roscoes have had other major legal battles. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company successfully sued the Roscoes’ company for selling “gray-market” cigarettes from unauthorized sales channels. Cigarettes Cheaper! lost a 2004 jury trial, reportedly costing the Roscoes $19 million in legal fees.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Camel Cigarettes Blue Seattle Pack

camel blue cigarettes

Congrats Seattle smokers! Soon, when you take a pull off that sweet and smooth Camel stogie, you can read the pack and learn how awesome you are for living here (and, if you keep smoking, perhaps dying here too). Tobacco giants R.J. Reynolds just launched a new city-themed ad campaign that decorates cig packs with metro-specific art from cities like San Francisco, New Orleans, Austin and Seattle. Unfortunately, Gov. Chris Gregoire is none to pleased with the mention.

The effort is actually part of a contest in which smokers can win trips to any of the 10 sponsored cities.

Gregoire is only the latest state or city official to get puffy about the Camel Cigarettes new campaign. San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Public Health Director Mitch Katz sent a letter to R.J. Reynolds demanding they remove the Haight Street imagery from its San Francisco-themed pack. Same thing in New York, where the Brooklyn pack inspired New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley to send a similar letter. Even in Las Vegas, where a person can simultaneously drink, gamble and have sex with a prostitute 24 hours a day, folks are pissed off about the ad campaign.

Seattle's art features a downtown scene including Mt. Rainer and a parody of the Pike Place Market "Public Market Center" sign that instead reads: "Camel Since 1913."

camel seattle cigarettes

It also has this über-cliche paragraph summing up what the city is apparently all about, while referring to Seattleites as "alternatives:"

"Home of grunge, a coffee revolution and alternatives who'll probably tell you they're only happy when it rains. It's the smell of vinyl in that hidden record store, that worn T-shirt and a ticket stub with a scribbled phone number -- all with the bold spirit of our Gold Rush ancestors who didn't think twice before breaking free for the glowing future ahead."

Gregoire fired off this statement early this week in response to the campaign:

"I am alarmed and disappointed at R.J. Reynolds' new marketing campaign which exploits the name and image of Seattle to recruit young smokers. Special edition cigarette packs featuring Washington landmarks, including the Pike Place Market and Mt. Rainier, are being co-opted to sell a product that is responsible for killing about 7,500 people in our state every year."

The governor also implied that the new art was being marketed toward kids, though that argument is typically made whenever a tobacco company rolls out a slick new ad that turns heads.

As mad as the governor is, one can't help but wonder if she would have felt rather slighted if R.J. Reynolds had snubbed Seattle and made a custom cig pack for, say, Portland instead.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Camel Cigarettes No. 9

camel cigarettes

A recent marketing campaign for Camel cigarettes appears to have attracted the interest of teen girls, a study shows.

The ads for Camel No. 9 cigarettes — which ran in magazines such as Vogue cigarettes, Cosmopolitan cigarettes and Glamour cigarettes — were a hit with girls ages 12 to 16, says a study of 1,036 adolescents published online Monday in Pediatrics.

Promotional giveaways for the new brand, which was launched in 2007, included berry-flavored lip balm, cellphone jewelry, purses and wristbands, the study says.

David Howard, a spokesman for R.J. Reynolds, which makes Camel cigarettes, says the ads were aimed at adults, noting that 85% of the magazines' readers are over 18. Tobacco companies agreed not to target kids as part of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with state attorneys general. He notes that teen smoking rates have continued to decline since the ads were introduced.

But the ads were clearly noticed by teenagers, says study co-author Cheryl Healton, president of the anti-smoking group the American Legacy Foundation, which interviewed teens about their awareness of cigarette brands.

In 2008, within a year of the ads' debut, 22% of girls listed Camel cigarettes as their favorite cigarette ad. That's twice the number who listed Camel cigarettes as their favorite in four earlier interviews taken for the study. That suggests that it was the new campaign — not older Camel cigarettes products — that captured girls' attention, Healton says.

Being able to remember a tobacco ad shows that kids are taking an interest in cigarettes, says co-author John Pierce of the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California-San Diego. Non-smoking teens who can name a favorite ad are 50% more likely to begin smoking than other kids, the study says.

There was no major change in boys' preferences. Overall, nearly half of girls could name a favorite cigarette ad, suggesting that ads are still reaching children, despite the marketing ban, Pierce says.

Howard says R.J. Reynolds pulled print ads for its cigarettes in 2008.

Ads don't need to include cartoon characters to appeal to young people, says the American Cancer Society's Tom Glynn. In fact, Camel Cigarettes ads that depict smoking as fashionable and grown-up actually make it more attractive to teens, he says. About 80% of smokers take up the habit before age 18.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Florida Woman Wins Lawsuit Against Tobacco Companies

Kim Mathews says she's been trying to quit smoking off and on for about ten years. She picked up the habit as a young teenager back in 1973.

"When I tried to quit I found that it's not as easy as just putting them down. Your body craves the nicotine," said Mathews.

In the case of 81-year-old Suwannee County woman Ann Huish, her husband's addiction and death is what brought her to a battle that some might say resembled that of David and Goliath.

Huish was awarded 3 million dollars in a lawsuit against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and Philip Morris Tobacco Company.

Tim Howard, a successful attorney who advocates for people who've lost loved ones as a result of tobacco addiction, says a case like this reveal how vulnerable people were years before commercials began speaking out against the product.

"Ninety percent of your smokers started when they were teenagers. Most of the time we do not give teenagers cocaine and heroine. And then they die drowning in their own blood," said Howard.

"The advertisements when I was younger were to buy cigarettes, nothing against cigarettes," said Mathews.

Howard says two thirds of Florida's active tobacco cases received verdicts in favor of the plaintiff. He says those rulings are a testament to how people are viewing tobacco companies these days.

"You'd see years ago Sylvester Stallone, Humphrey Bogart coming out smoking cigarettes, healthy, macho, sexy. The realty is decrepit, life destructing, and miserable way to die," said Howard.

As for the 81-year-old Suwannee woman, who's now a millionaire, she did not wish to comment about her personal loss.

WCTV contacted Phillip Morris and was told there was no one there to speak with us about the law suit. We also tried contacting RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company after hours via telephone and email, but have not heard back from them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Menthol Cigarettes Sales Could Be Banned

menthol cigarettes

Menthol cigarettes are no more harmful than regular cigarettes, tobacco industry representatives argued Thursday as a federal advisory panel opened a two-day meeting to consider whether to ban the sale of those cigarettes.

Menthol cigarettes, which account for one-quarter of the cigarettes sold in the United States, have been under scrutiny by public health officials and public health watchdog groups. Critics claim the flavor makes them more addictive and denounce the marketing campaigns that they say target menthol cigarettes specifically at minority smokers.

According to a study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research, menthol cigarettes are favored by three-quarters of African-American smokers.

But Leonard Jones, director of marketing at Lorillard Tobacco Company, said that "ethnicity does not play a role" in marketing strategies for the Newport menthol cigarette. "We don't collect or retain information on ethnicity in our marketing data base."

Representatives from Phillip Morris USA, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Lorillard Tobacco Company plan to present scientific evidence that they say shows menthol cigarettes are no more harmful than non-menthol cigarettes. The meeting, moderated by the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products, is being held in Rockville, Maryland.

The 12-member federal advisory panel, which is in charge of overseeing the implementation of the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, is scheduled to makes recommendations on menthol cigarettes by March 23, 2011. The committee includes three non-voting members representing the tobacco industry.

The panel could decide to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes or order that the levels of flavoring in them be reduced.

There is no evidence showing higher numbers of deaths among menthol cigarette smokers than among non-menthol cigarette smokers, said Jane Lewis of Altria Client Services, which represents Phillip Morris USA. And "at the end, that's what matters," she added.

The meeting is being streamed live on the FDA's website. According to the agenda, participants will discuss the characterization of menthol cigarettes, clinical effects of menthol, biomarkers of disease risk, marketing data, and population effects.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Quit Smoking Or Loose Weight

Included in Negron’s revamp of the state-federal Medicaid program – which Negron will release tomorrow – is a component aimed at what senators are calling “personal responsibility.”

Sen. Don Gaetz, a Niceville Republican who helped craft Negron’s bill, said Medicaid patients have to take control of their health care just as he had to do when his doctor told him to lose weight.

“We’re saying that an individual who’s been diagnosed as morbidly obese needs to be on a medically-directed program of weight loss to manage that health care problem that could turn into an increased taxpayer liability. The same thing with smokers,” Gaetz said.

The bill would require smokers and alcoholics and drug addicts to get treatment, Gaetz said.

Negron said his bill would include incentives for Medicaid patients to lose weight, quit smoking and stop drinking but did not give details about what they would be.

If they don’t get thinner and put down the smokes, Negron said their coverage could be cut off.

“It’s possible,” Negron, R-Stuart, said.

He said the Medicaid program currently includes a seldom-used provision that would allow the state to boot patients out.

“If you are non-compliant with your appointments, if you reject medical advice, there is a system in place under current law, which is rarely used but it has been used, …where someone would no longer receive services,” Negron said.

Healthier Medicaid patients will save the state money, Gaetz and Negron said.

“They not only compromise the quality of that person’s life they compromise the efficacy of any medical care that might be rendered but they drive up costs that are then shifted to the friends and neighbors who are actually paying the health care bill for the individual who is smoking,” Gaetz said.

The system can no longer tolerate someone “who is an alcoholic and wants to offload the medical consequences of alcoholism to the taxpayers of Florida,” Gaetz said.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Britney Spears Pregnant Smoking

britney spears smoking

Britney Spears has denied that she is pregnant with her third child and says that her bloated tummy is simply down to new medication she is taking.

The singer spoke out after pictures after pictures published this week showed the star smoking a cigarette with a suspiciously bloated stomach.

The picture that started the rumour but Britney has denied that she is pregnant

A source close to the family says that Britney has been struggling with her weight ever since she had her second son Jayden James, 20 months, and the medication has not helped.

The pop star has been back in training in preparation for a comeback, spending plenty of time on the treadmill - but despite all the effort, she is failing to regain the svelte figure which made her famous.

And for the last few weeks Hollywood has been buzzing with rumours that Britney may be pregnant again.

The star denied the rumours shortly before heading on a break to Costa Rica with recovering alcoholic actor Mel Gibson along with her father and his wife.

The unlikely party flew from Los Angeles in a private jet, headed for Gibson's seaside home in the tropical Central American paradise.

A friend said: "They're just going away for a few days to relax. Mel and his wife Robyn clearly saw a woman in crisis and wanted to extend themselves in any way possible.

"There are no expectations, there is no agenda. It's simply an act of human kindness, one neighbour reaching out to another."

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"Gossip Girl" Star’s Smoking Habit Ignites Criticism

Taylor Momsen

‘Gossip Girl’ star Taylor Momsen is getting chastised for being a bad influence on her teenage fans.

The 16-year-old actress, who plays Dan’s little sis Jenny Humphrey on the hit CW series, was recently snapped with a lit cigarette in her mouth, and wearing a barely there miniskirt.

The photo fanned the flames of criticism, with some suggesting that she’s just a little too risqué for her age – and a bad example to her young fans.

“She really has an extra responsibility to bear as an actress idolized by little girls out there,” said the director of the Foundation for a Smoke-Free American. For her to be smoking sends the wrong message to kids. Evidence shows that stars do influence kids to smoke.”

Not that Momsen cares about what any of the naysayers think, of course.

The blond starlet told the UK Times that she could give two cigarette butts about the criticism, which also sometimes focuses on her seductive outfits and a fashion sense that seems more fitting for 45-year-old rock star Courtney Love than the 16-year-old teen star of a television series.

“To be honest, I don’t f–king care. I didn’t get into this to be a role model,” she said. “So I’m sorry if I’m influencing your kids in a way that you don’t like, but I can’t be responsible for their actions. I don’t care.”

What does Momsen think about other more wholesome stars her age? Turns out not much. She specifically had choice words for the ‘Hannah Montana‘ show, which she coincidentally auditioned for but ultimately lost the lead role to Miley Cyrus.

“Honestly, if I’d have ended up as Hannah Montana, I don’t know if the show would have gone as well. I probably would have told them all to go f–k themselves by the time I hit 11,” she said. “And I don’t know how that would have gone down. It’s great for Miley, but I really like where I am right now and I feel really fortunate to be able to really be myself.”

Momsen is currently busy with her series and her rock band, Pretty Reckless, which is signed to Interscope Records.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pro-Smoking Videos, Often Sexual, Prominent On YouTube

Hye-Jin Paek

Pro-smoking videos, and especially those that are sexual in nature, are prominent on the online video site YouTube and very accessible to young people, says a Michigan State University professor whose study of the issue was recently published in the journal Health Communication.

"The high frequency of smoking fetish videos concerns me", said Hye-Jin Paek, an associate professor of advertising, public relations and retailing who conducted a study of what are known as “smoking fetish” videos – videos that combine smoking and sexuality. "Also, the fact that we can see the videos and analyze their content means that teenagers can see them too".

By simply doing a YouTube search using the words “smoking fetish” and “smoking fetishism”, Paek and her colleagues found that more than 2,200 such videos were presented. That compares to only 1,480 anti-smoking videos that were shown.

Despite efforts by YouTube to keep what’s considered inappropriate material from young people, the MSU study found that 85 percent of smoking fetish videos were completely accessible to adolescents.

Paek hopes that the study will alarm tobacco-control experts to carefully monitor YouTube along with other Internet websites and lead YouTube to strengthen its regulatory system.

"YouTube doesn't use the same guidelines as the movies do to regulate the videos", Paek said. "But why not, when YouTube is arguably more exposed to youth than movies are? I hope YouTube strengthens its system, but I also hope tobacco-control experts will pay more attention to the Internet and new media as potential channels for both risky and healthy messages".

The majority of smoking fetish videos studied explicitly portrayed smoking behaviors, such as lighting up, inhaling, exhaling and holding the tobacco product. More than half were rated PG-13 or R.

More than 21 percent of the videos contained at least one of the five fetish elements defined in the paper. The elements were a selection of five traditional fetish elements including gloves, high heels, boots, stockings and leather or latex clothes.

YouTube's regulation policy is carried out by the site's users, Paek said. Viewers can "flag" a video if they judge its content as inappropriate. Within 48 hours, YouTube staff reviews the video, although that does not guarantee the video will be deleted. For videos that are flagged and remaining on the site, users must verify they are 18 or older by creating a YouTube account to view the video.

Paek’s co-authors were Kyongseok Kim and Jordan Lynn from the University of Georgia.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Florida Jury Returns Multi-Million Verdict Against Tobacco Companies

A jury in Gainesville, Florida today assessed punitive damages in the amount of $1.5 million against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) and another $1.5 million against Philip Morris (PM) in an Engle Progeny case. The same jury on Tuesday night awarded the family of John Huish $750,000 in compensatory damages, attributing 25% fault to RJR, 25% to Philip Morris and 50% to Mr. Huish. So, The compensatory damages award will be reduced by 50%.

Of the 35 Engle Progeny trials that have reached a jury verdict since February 2009, 24 have been plaintiff verdicts (69%).

Mr. Huish, who died of small-cell lung cancer in 1993 at the age of 64, had started smoking two decades before warning labels appeared on cigarette packs. He started smoking Lucky Strikes, followed by Camel, Chesterfield, Marlboro and then Marlboro Lights. Mr. Huish’s widow, Anna Louise Huish, brought the lawsuit and is represented by the West Palm Beach firm of Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley.

Senior Attorney for the Tobacco Products Liability Project at Northeastern University School of Law (TPLP), Edward L. Sweda, Jr. was delighted with the verdict: “This jury was justifiably appalled by what it learned about the tobacco companies’ outrageous misconduct during the decades that John Huish was an addicted customer. Someone who is not addicted would not have smoked two or more packs per day for 46 years, as Mr. Huish did before succumbing to lung cancer.”

TPLP Director Mark Gottlieb noted that, “Jury after jury of ordinary folks have found the way that cigarette makers conduct their business is deserving of punishment. With thousands of these cases in the pipeline in Florida, it’s going to be a long slog for Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Jury Awards Widow With $3 Million In Tobacco Suit

tobacco jury

A Suwannee County woman was awarded $3 million by an Alachua County jury Thursday in a lawsuit against two tobacco companies stemming from the death of her husband, a longtime smoker.

Anna Louise Huish was awarded $1.5 million against RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co. and another $1.5 million against Philip Morris, said attorney Tom Gustafson of the law firm Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart & Shipley.

The same jury on Tuesday night awarded the family of John Huish $750,000 in compensatory damages.

"We're very happy with the award and the jury clearly worked very hard on it", Gustafson said on Thursday. "In these cases, the jurors have to take a trip back in time. Now, everybody knows that tobacco companies can't be trusted and that they make products that are addictive and deadly. But for 50 years, they never admitted that. They ran a public relations campaign like no other."

Steven Callahan, a spokesman for Philip Morris, said the company will appeal.

"We believe the court, in clear violation of Florida law and due process, allowed this plaintiff to rely on general findings by a prior jury that are unconnected to the facts of this case", Callahan said. "We will appeal".

RJ Reynolds spokesman David Howard wrote in an e-mail to The Sun that, "We are disappointed with the jury's decision in the matter and we will appeal".

The Huish suit was originally part of a class-action suit that was later broken into separate suits, Gustafson said.

Several of those cases have already been tried in Gainesville.

Huish, who died of small-cell lung cancer in 1993 at the age of 64, had started smoking two decades before warning labels appeared on cigarette packs.

Gustafson said that many of the findings from the original class-action are binding on the juries of the individual suits. The subjects of the suits all were addicted to nicotine and either died of a smoking-related disease or were diagnosed with a smoking-related disease between 1990 and 1996.

"They started smoking 20 and 30 years before there were warning labels on cigarettes and didn't get smoking-related diseases until they got old", Gustafson said.

Gainesville was chosen as the site for the trial because Huish had received treatment here and died here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

$3 Millions Punitive Damages Awarded In Huish Tobacco Triali

james gustafson

"There is only one side to this story", Searcy Denney's James Gustafson told the jury in closing the punitive damages phase of the trial. "We proved this case with their own documents. We proved this case with the things they wrote at the times they did them.

"We brought you two of the foremost experts on smoking and health, Dr. Michael Cummings, Dr. David Burns. You heard Dr. David Burns quoted, his research quoted in the 2010 U.S. Surgeon General's report, yesterday during cross-examination. Dr. Burns, who came here and testified to you about the things they did, and why the did them. And the consequences and effect that it had on millions of people. And that 400,000+ number, the number of people who die in this country every year? That's just the United States. But Philip Morris's lawyer got up here in closing argument, he called Dr. Cummings 'dangerous.' Folks, nothing about them has changed. Nothing about them has changed."

The plaintiffs requested a punitive damage award that was a single-digit multiplier of the $750K compensatory damages award, up to $6.75M, for each of the two tobacco defendants, R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris.

The jury returned a punitive damages verdict of $1.5M against R.J. Reynolds and $1.5M against Philip Morris, for a total damages award of $3.75M.