Tobacco Center Faculty Blog

March 17, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

We determined whether racial/ethnic disparities existed in coverage by type of 100% smoke-free private workplace, restaurant, and bar laws from 2000 to 2009. To do this, we combined US census population data and the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation US Tobacco Control Database to calculate the percentage of individuals in counties covered by each type of law by race/ethnicity from 2000 to 2009.

More of the US Hispanic and Asian populations were covered by 100% smoke-free restaurant and bar laws than non-Hispanic White and non-Hispanic Black populations. Asian coverage by smoke-free bars laws increased from 36% to 75%, and Hispanic coverage increased from 31% to 62%, compared with 6% to 41% for non-Hispanic Blacks and 8% to 49% for non-Hispanic Whites.

Hispanics and Asians benefited more from the rapid spread of smoke-free law coverage, whereas non-Hispanic Blacks benefited less. These ethnic disparities suggest a likely effect of geographic region and may provide a basis for more effective, community-based, and tailored policy-related interventions, particularly regarding areas with high concentrations of non-Hispanic Blacks. 

March 12, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The court decision, issued yesterday, overturning the New York City Board of Health regulation banning super-sized sugary drinks was reminiscent of similar rulings against attempts by Boards of Health establishing smoking restrictions in the 1990s.

What happened back then is that, as a result of intense lobbying by pro-tobacco "third parties" (whose descendants are working against the NY supersize ban and soda taxes), many boards of health included exceptions in their smoking restrictions for bars or restaurants.

After they did that, the pro-tobacco forces sued -- and won -- claiming that including such exceptions was beyond the authority of boards of health because they moved from issuing regulations to legislating.

Later, when boards of health started issuing regulations that did not include such exceptions, they started winning in court.

So, rather than fighting what is probably a losing battle over the current regulation, the NY City Board of Health should simply issue a new regulation that applies to all businesses in NY City without exception.

That would not only be better public health policy but also more likely to be sustained in court.

March 10, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

According to a story in the Los Angeles Times on March 9 about the recently released initiative to raise the tobacco tax to fund college scholarships, "... the higher-education advocates behind the measure are expected to come under pressure to drop their proposal in the next few weeks from powerful unions and legislators wanting to use a cigarette tax to help pay for an expansion of healthcare in California."
This looks like a repeat of Proposition 86, an initiative to increase the tobacco tax primarily to fund medical services, that lost by 4% in 2006 (a much wider margin than the 0.4% that Prop 29, which would primarily have funded cancer and other medical research, lost by in 2012).  While both Props 86 and 29 had money for the state tobacco control program, neither one's primary purpose was to do something about tobacco.
This kind of thinking will not fly with the people any better than Gavin Newsom's proposed initiative to increase tobacco taxes for higher education.
So, what would a tobacco tax initiative that could be passed look like?

February 28, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

I was as surprised as everyone else when the FDA announced that Lawrence Deyton announced that he was leaving as head of the Center for Tobacco Products and that Mitch Zeller was becoming the new head.

Having some time to digest the change, I think that Mitch is a perfect person for the job.  Mitch has extensive experience at the FDA, including as David Kessler’s point person on tobacco, and, as a lawyer, will be well-positioned to go head-to-head with the FDA’s notoriously difficult lawyers.  He also has gone toe-to-toe with the tobacco companies and knows that they are fundamentally different from the pharmaceutical and medical device companies that the FDA is used to dealing with.

There is no question that Mitch could do a great job.  The question is whether the Administration will let him do a great job.  (There have been many media reports of the White House sitting on the FDA over issues such a food safety and women’s health.) 

February 28, 2013

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Gavin Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor, has filed an initiative to increase the tobacco tax by $1 with the money devoted to student financial aid for higher education.   This initiative spans two areas in which I have been active for decades: tobacco control and higher education funding.