Monthly Archives: May 2014

2014-05-09: Smoking female featured by Urban Spoon for Mother’s Day

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I’m on Urban Spoon’s e-mail list, which has to do with food and cooking, as the name suggests. I was shocked by an animation in today’s e-mail from which shows an elegantly dressed young woman puffing away on a cigarette, adjoining another panel full of beautiful peonies.

This might have been considered acceptable several decades ago when cigarette smoking was being promoted by tobacco companies and others as a desirable behavior, especially for emancipated women. But in this day and age? I can’t think of anything more deplorable.

Then I followed the link and discovered it was a character from Mad Men, supposedly “looking pissed,” as the caption maintains.

Add caption

Betty Draper – Mad Men
Caption reads: “Better Draper Looking Pissed”

So do I chalk my overreaction down to simply failing to be hip with modern TV culture, like Mad Men? Or is this something to get upset about?

2014-05-11: After posting the above, I received reaction from Michael McFadden, author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains,” which I bought but don’t find to be too objective. In his comments, which I’ve published, he disagreed with my viewpoint. However, “S” then e-mailed me, strongly disputing McFadden’s position. After reviewing S’s e-mail and doing further research myself, I felt it worth adding the following:

From “S” (whose identity I’ve agreed, exceptionally, to keep confidential):
         In seeing the reply from the staunch smoking advocate, Michael McFadden, regarding the Johnny Carson clip, I did some checking on the people featured in the clip. Note that George Gobel, Dean Martin, Johnny Carson were each prominently smoking … but Bob Hope was not smoking.
         George Gobel died at age 71 during heart surgery.
         Dean Martin was diagnosed with lung cancer, died age 78 of respiratory failure due to emphysema.
         Johnny Carson had a heart attack, died age 79 of respiratory failure due to emphysema.
         Bob Hope died at age 100 of pneumonia. One Internet source said Hope did smoke, another said he did not. Because he did endorse Chesterfield cigarettes back in the 40’s, I’m speculating he may have smoked back then and later quit. I don’t ever recall seeing Hope smoking.

Wikipedia at says:
Carson was a heavy smoker for decades and, in the early days of his tenure on Tonight, often smoked on-camera. It was reported that as early as the mid-1970s, he would repeatedly say, “These things are killing me.” His younger brother recalled that during their last conversation, Carson kept saying, “Those damn cigarettes.”

Hardly seems the warm nostalgia McFadden tried to evoke.

George Burns in 1986

George Burns in 1986

In response to the above I replied:
         One has to be careful using individual stories to prove a general point – e.g. cigar-smoking comedian, George Burns, died at 100, but it’s probably still a valid response in this case. (I just checked on and he’s shown holding a cigar. Burns did an act with his wife, Gracie Allen, who died at age 69 in 1964 from a heart attack after a long battle with heart disease, possibly from her husband’s smoking.)

This generated the following response from “S”:
         Gee, you’re right about George Burns. Also, our old nemesis in the (Missouri State) Capitol, John Britton, is in his late 80’s and about a year ago commented on how he cut back from smoking 4 packs a day to only 3 packs a day now. By the way, I heard recently he now pulls an oxygen tank behind him.

Couple of observations:
         1 – For every 1 smoker that lives a very long life, there are many others that have their lives end prematurely. On average, smokers live about 13-14 years less than non-smokers.
         2 – Don’t cigar smokers say they don’t inhale? That could reduce the odds for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, but not for oral cancer. The real reason they likely don’t inhale may have to do with the alkalinity of cigar smoke making it difficult to draw into the lungs. With cigarettes, the tobacco is flue-cured to concentrate the sugars, plus other sugars like molasses are added, to reduce the alkalinity and make the smoke much easier to inhale … and much easier for the toxins to be introduced to the respiratory and cardiovascular system.

2014-05-03 P-D: “Judge rules Missouri should receive millions more in tobacco funds”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

Kay Young was good enough to draw this to my attention. It was published in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch on page A2 below the fold. After reading it I exchanged the following e-mails with Kay:

“Once again, it’s all about money, not about devoting any of the settlement funds to fighting the high smoking rate in Missouri.

“I know and I don’t think it will ever change. Sad, isn’t it?

Judge rules Missouri should receive millions more in tobacco funds
By Robert Patrick 314-621-51548

ST. LOUIS • A St. Louis judge ruled on Friday that because of arbitration errors, Missouri should receive up to $50 million that had been withheld from tobacco settlement funds.
         St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Jimmie Edwards ruled that the arbitrator’s method of allocating funds from the settlement was “clearly erroneous” as it violated a 1998 master settlement agreement between the major tobacco companies and 46 states.
         Last fall, an arbitration panel ruled that Missouri should lose $70 million of the $130 million that the state had expected to receive from the settlement this year. State officials were planning to use the money for Medicaid, early childhood education and other services.
         Edwards’ ruling would mean nearly $50 million of that money would be returned, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s office said Friday.
         Koster’s office sent a copy of Edwards’ ruling to the auditor that calculates and doles out the payments, “along with a letter demanding that Missouri’s payment be revised to comply with the court’s ruling,” according to a news release.
         The disputed money is at risk in the first place because of Missouri’s failure to be “diligent” in ensuring an even playing field between the major tobacco companies that signed the settlement and smaller companies that did not.
         Because of that failure, “value brand” cigarettes such as Edgefield or Decade are about 60 cents per pack cheaper than other low-price brands belonging to the major tobacco companies.
         The three judges on the arbitration panel ruled that the shares of Missouri and five other states should be reduced twice, first because of their failure to act and second, to reflect the shares of 22 states that had settled.
         But Koster’s office disagreed, and filed suit, claiming that reallocating the shares of the states that settled to the states that didn’t settle violated the terms of the master settlement.
         Edwards ruled that all states must authorize any amendment of the agreement.
         Koster’s office was less successful in arguing that the panel engaged in misconduct by relying on “ex parte” evidence heard in other arbitrations outside the presence of Missouri officials or lawyers, saying that lawyers failed to show that the panel was “unduly influenced” by any of that evidence. Edwards also rejected Missouri’s attempt to compel arbitration on a state-by-state basis, rather than in a nationwide arbitration.
         Lawyers contacted by the Post-Dispatch expected an appeal.
         Brian May, a spokesman for Philip Morris USA owner Altria, said, “We are reviewing the court’s decision and considering our options,” both with regard to the St. Louis ruling and a similar ruling last month in Pennsylvania. That ruling could return $120 million to that state.
         Missouri officials said earlier this year that the state could lose as much as $2 billion over the next decade because of the arbitrator’s ruling.
         Legislation is pending that would eliminate the cigarette pricing disparities, although that bill has been sought unsuccessfully by the attorney general’s office for the last 12 years and the prospects this year appear no better.

Virginia Young of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.