On February 11, 2014, the FDA launched “The Real Cost” education campaign, aimed at preventing at-risk youth from using tobacco and reducing the amount of teenagers who become regular smokers. In 2009, President Obama signed into law the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, granting the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco. The campaign uses a series of platforms, including TV, radio, print, and the internet, and “will continue to air in more than 200 markets across the country for at least one year.”
The campaign ads include a commercial where a teenage girl is forced to remove part of the skin on her face, which she hands over to the cashier along with cash in exchange for a pack of cigarettes. A few of them feature a long-haired “nappy” man in a white t-shirt and kaki pants that bullies young people into giving him money and “puckering up.” Of course, the man is supposed to be a cigarette—referred to in the ads as “tiny bully.” Others feature faces with wrinkles and yellowing and misshapen teeth. Read More
Posted in FDA, Global Health, Health reform, Tobacco; Tagged: Adolescent Health, anthropology, child health, children, HHS, National Healthcare, NCDs, non-communicable diseases, public health, Real Cost Campaign, Smoking, Teenagers, tobacco control.
This week, the second-largest drugstore chain CVS Caremark Corp. (CVS) announced that it will stop selling tobacco products in its 7,600 pharmacies starting on October 1. The medical and tobacco control advocacy organizations applaud the decision, as it contributes to combatting tobacco consumption in the U.S. and exerts pressure on competitors to do the same. President Obama, a former smoker, has also praised CVS’s move, describing it as a “powerful example” that will help reduce tobacco-related deaths and costs to the health care system.
While daring and unprecedented, in retrospect, the company’s decision should not be a complete surprise given its success in the retail health clinic business. CVS has been reported to be driving retail clinic growth. CVS currently has more than 770 retail clinics, a number that is expected to double in the next four years. In the month of December 2013 alone, retail clinics grew 2%, driving the total number from 1,555 to 1,574—CVS was solely responsible for this increase.
In fact, on the same day that the announcement was made, Troy Brennan, Chief Medical Officer of CVS Caremark, told Marketplace: “As a health care company, you just can’t be selling the number one public health problem.” He explained that the pressure had been coming from inside—conversations with health care organizations and physicians led CVS to question its practice of providing healthcare services on one hand and selling tobacco products on the other. According to Troy, as CVS moves to become a healthcare company, “it becomes more and more paradoxical to be selling cigarettes at the retail outlets.” Read More
Posted in Health reform, National Healthcare, Tobacco; Tagged: ACA, access to health care, CVS, National Healthcare, Obamacare, pharmacies, president obama, retail clinics, retail health clinics, tobacco control.
This post was written by Elizabeth Morse, O’Neill Institute Winter Intern, Dartmouth College ’15. Any comments or questions about this post can be directed to email@example.com.
“Cancer knows no boundaries, so we all must take responsibility for beating this devastating disease. Together it is possible.” -Cary Adams, Chief Executive Officer, Union For International Cancer Control (UICC)
Hearing that you have cancer is very frightening. It can be overwhelming and leaves you feeling helpless and alone. You might have trouble breathing or listening to what is being said after your diagnosis. You feel like there is nothing you can do about cancer – but this is just a myth. You can fight back.
February 4th, this past Tuesday, is internationally known as “World Cancer Day” – a day when awareness campaigns to increase global awareness take place for all types of cancer. After cardiovascular diseases, cancers cause the next most deaths globally, about 15% (1 in 7) of deaths worldwide. World Cancer Day unites the world’s population under a single theme to highlight the ongoing fight against cancer. It aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and providing education about the disease to the general public, pressing governments and individuals across the world to take action. An interactive map displayed activities and actions that took place around the world to mark World Cancer Day.
Posted in Uncategorized;
This post was written by Timothy Westmoreland, Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center and a Senior Scholar in health law at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law. It was originally published by POLITICO Magazine on February 4, 2014 and is re-posted here with permission of the author. Professor Westmoreland was a staff member of the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment from 1979 through 1994. The views presented here are his own. Any questions or comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 1981, we were looking for the first symptom of a disaster that we feared would come. The Reagan administration had proposed huge cuts in health programs, and something had to give.
Back then, Henry Waxman—who has just announced his retirement after four decades representing his California district in Congress—was a relatively new chairman of the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment. He had asked his staff to be on the lookout, and we were. Maybe it would be a cohort of birth defects? Maybe an environmental spill in drinking water? I was an assistant counsel two years out of law school, working on the public health portfolio. I thought the disaster would be infectious diseases among children, since the budget called for cutting immunization support effectively in half (a proposal eventually rejected on a strong bipartisan basis after a Waxman oversight hearing during which a Nobel laureate showed slides of polio victims in iron lungs). Read More
He might not have known it, but Pete Seeger, who died last week at 94, was one of the great health advocates of our time.
Those of you familiar with the folk music legend may also be surprised to hear this. We think of his songs about the unions and workers’ rights, about racial justice, peace, and the environment. A folk music aficionado myself, I cannot think of a single song of his explicitly about human health.
Yet the rights of workers, racial justice, the environment, peace – these are all among the critical determinants of health that studies have shown accounts for our health even more than health care itself. Let’s look at these briefly in turn. Read More
This Sunday the nation’s attention will turn to football as the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks face-off in the undisputed champion of yearly sporting events – the Super Bowl. Like most, I am an avid football fan. But, as a public health advocate, I struggle with the severe and sometimes fatal health risks that football players face each time they step on the field. Because behind the media hype, pre-game trash-talk and touchdown receptions, there is growing concern over the dangers of concussion-related injuries in football.
In 2011 – following a Frontline exposé that revealed that subconcussive impacts contribute to neurodegenerative diseases – thousands of former NFL players brought a lawsuit against the NFL claiming that league officials knowingly suppressed research about the link between traumatic brain injury and professional football. Earlier this month, a federal judge rejected the proposed $765 million settlement between the players and the NFL, citing concerns that the settlement might be insufficient to cover all of the players’ medical expenses.
Posted in Uncategorized;
Co-authored with Anna Stoto, a research assistant at the O’Neill Institute
In 2007 Mayor Mick Corbett put Oklahoma City on a diet. Inspired by his own weight-loss battle, and the fact that Oklahoma City was labelled one of the fattest places in America, on New Year’s Eve Corbett stood in front of the elephant enclosure at the city zoo and challenged Oklahoma to lose one million pounds.
Corbett’s first step was to set up a website called thiscityisgoingonadiet.com, with information and resources on weight loss, exercise and healthy eating. The site also featured a weight-loss counter, where local groups and residents could track their progress and add the pounds they lost to an overall tally. More than 47,700 people signed up to participate in the program (approximately one third of the city’s obese population), and the site also inspired local churches, schools, and workplaces to start their own weight-loss programs. Read More
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Earlier this month there was a flurry of excitement in the public health community when the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) announced that the nation’s largest food and beverage companies had cut trillions of calories from the American marketplace. In 2010, as part of the industry group known as the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, 16 companies – including junk food giants Coca-Cola Co, Kraft Foods Group Inc. and Kellogg Co. – voluntarily pledged to remove one trillion calories by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015.
As has been widely reported, the companies cut 6.4 trillion calories (or 78 calories per person per day) from 2007 to 2012, exceeding their target by 400 percent. To do so, the companies developed new lower-calorie options, changed existing products so they have fewer calories, and changed product portion sizes in an attempt to encourage consumers to eat less. Although the researchers have not yet released the entire study (a decision that has faced some criticism), RWJF applauded the food industry and Lisa Gable of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation announced that the findings demonstrated a significant shift in the marketplace.
Although voluntary action by leading companies is certainly a step in the right direction, all the praise gave us pause. Weren’t obesity rates in the United States continuing to soar even as companies made these reductions? How much of an impact does 78 calories per person per day have on the public’s health? Here are some of the other questions we believe will be critical to better understand whether the industry’s efforts are a true public health success – or if they are being used to deflect public criticism and delay government intervention. Read More
Posted in Uncategorized;
Less than one month ago, on December 20, 2013, the Ugandan Parliament passed an anti-homosexuality bill that, if signed by President Yoweri Museveni, will mean not only a critical step back in the protection of human rights for members of the LGBT community in Uganda, but also one for the country’s public health.
As an effort to protect “the traditional family” in Uganda from “Western lifestyle risks,” the bill was originally introduced back in 2009 by Parliament Member David Bahati. Among the punitive measures called for by the bill against the LGBT population was the death penalty for anyone determined guilty of “aggravated homosexuality,” which included “serial offenders” (anyone found to have had same-sex sexual relations more than once) and HIV-positive individuals having sex with an individual of the same sex, even when consensual and protected. While the text of the bill passed by the Ugandan Parliament last month has not yet been made available, it is said that the death penalty provision has been eliminated from the text. And yet, the current version imposes life sentences for “any form of penetration or sexual stimulation of a person of the same sex” and for “aggravated homosexuality.” It also “proposes years in prison for anyone who counsels or reaches out to homosexuals.” The measures would also not be limited to Ugandans. Foreigners would also be subject to it. Read More
A recent major concern about the safety of Hepatitis B vaccines in China has put manufacturers and the health authorities under a spotlight and threatened progress in significantly lowering Hep B infection rate two decades after China added the Hep B vaccine into the newborn immunization plan in 1992.
Last month, Chinese media relayed suspicions that the Hep B vaccines produced by the three biggest domestic manufacturers had caused serious adverse reactions, leading to several infant deaths. Within two weeks of the report, another 12 infant deaths that occurred after following Hep B vaccination were reported.
China’s FDA and Ministry of Health immediately suspended distribution and use of the questionable vaccines, conducted field investigation, and held a press conference on January 3, 2014, 20 days after the cases were firstly reported. The officials concluded that careful investigation and inspection demonstrated that the vaccines and the manufacturing process complied with national quality standards. Autopsies had revealed that these deaths of most of the infants were unrelated to the vaccines. The vaccinations had also been largely excluded as the cause of death for the other infants, though final autopsy results were needed to confirm those findings. The vaccines were safe. Read More
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The views reflected in this blog are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.