Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

February 16, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The American Public Health Association (and other public health organizations) just sent out emails notifying their members that Congress was considering a huge cut to public health programs as part of the deal to extend the payroll tax cut and maintain money paid to doctors.  This is a short-sighted measure that will greatly hurt not only pubic health programs, but contribute to exploding medical costs.

Here is the letter I sent my representative and senators; I urge everyone to express their views on this:

February 14, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Mindful of the fact that the media companies will be coming back to the California legislature to renew (and maybe even expand) their $100 million/year subsidy program, much of which goes to providing taxpayer support to movies that promote smoking, Jonathan Polansky and I recently completed an analysis of the public health impact of these subsidies.

We hope that this report will contribute to a broader discussion of the real costs of these subsidies in terms of damaging public health.  I am pleased that the California Medical Association and American Heart Association (Western States) have both voted to take positions of “oppose unless amended” on the issue of film subsidies unless they exclude films with smoking and other tobacco use.  (As far as I know, no bill has yet been introduced).

The report, “California film subsidies and on-screen smoking: Resolving the policy conflict,” , available on the UC eScholarship website at http://escholarship.org/uc/item/0t9099dr , concludes that:

February 13, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Eric Crosbie just published a paper in Salud Publica Mexico (2012 Feb;54(1):28-38) that uses tobacco industry documents, key informant interviews, and other materials to describe how the tobacco industry has dominated and continues to dominate tobacco policy making in Costa Rica.

During the mid-to-late 1980s, Health Ministry issued several advanced (for their time) smoking restriction decrees causing British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris International (PMI) to strengthen their political presence there, resulting in passage of a weak 1995 law, which, as of August 2011, remained in effect. Since 1995 the industry has used Costa Rica as a pilot site for Latin American programs and has dominated policymaking by influencing the Health Ministry, including direct private negotiations with the tobacco industry which violate Article 5.3's implementing guidelines of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

The Costa Rica experience demonstrates the importance of vigorous implementation of FCTC Article 5.3 which insulates public health policymaking from industry interference.

February 9, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD
The Welsh Government has launched a consultation to amend the smokefree premises legislation to create an exemption that would allow allow performers to smoke in enclosed and partially enclosed spaces when filming for television or film.  The moving force behind this is the BBC, which has lobbied the first minister in Wales, Carwyn Jones, to create this exemption claiming that productions have stayed in England where there is currently such an exemption in the smokefree regulations.
Of all the crazy economic arguments I have heard for exposing people to secondhand smoke, this one takes the cake.
Are we really to believe that the BBC has ignored the fact that it just opened a major new production center in Cardiff, Wales to take advantage of lower labor costs that exist in London just so they can favor actors generate secondhand smoke? I think not.

February 8, 2012

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The recent news that the Obama Administration and some attorneys general are trying to push through a quick deal with the banks to settle state lawsuits against the banks for a wide range of mortgage fraud in which the banks would get immunity from further liability exchange for around $20 billion reminds me of the "global settlement" of tobacco lawsuits that the Clinton Administration tried to push through to end litigation against the tobacco industry in the mid-1990s.

Then, as now, a group of state attorneys general (as well as private attorneys) were pressing lawsuits against a major industry with legions of lawyers and there was pressure from the national government and some of the attorneys general to settle the cases before the full range of industry misbehavior was understood.   The deal then was a trade that effectively granted Big Tobacco immunity from further litigation in exchange for some money, some voluntary agreements on marketing, and a form of FDA regulation.

Almost everyone got on "the train that was leaving the station" on the grounds that the global settlement was inevitable, and they did not want to be left behind.

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