The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resigned last week, only a day after a POLITICO report was released stating that she had purchased stock in the tobacco industry after taking the position. The move has garnered a lot of public attention recently, as many view it as a glaring conflict of interest for someone in such an important position.
Conflicting with CDC Mission
When Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald took the position as Director of the CDC, she should have known that tobacco is one of the very drugs she is supposed to be fighting against. The slogan of the CDC is:
“24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People.”
To many, this is in direct opposition to the tobacco industry, with cigarette smoking being the leading cause of preventable death in America. This year alone cigarettes will result in the deaths of approximately half a million Americans. So how could someone in charge of an organization that is supposed to save people invest in something that kills so many?
Before taking office, Fitzgerald owned stock in tobacco companies:
According to the initial report that was released last Tuesday, Fitzgerald purchased “tens of thousands of dollars in new stock holdings in at least a dozen companies,” including one of the largest tobacco companies in the entire world, Japan Tobacco. So before getting rid of a lot of these assets in October, she had her hand in 4 out of the “Big Five” tobacco companies in the world.
As if that were not suspicious enough, the very next day after purchasing these stocks, Fitzgerald reportedly took a tour of the CDC’s Tobacco Laboratory. This is the entity that researches the harms of tobacco’s chemicals on human health. Then, almost as if to add insult to injury, news outlets have looked back to Fitzgerald’s statement in November when she said,
“Too many Americans are harmed by cigarette smoking, which is the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and disease.”
She then vowed to “continue to use proven strategies to help smokers quit and to prevent children from using any tobacco products.”
For someone with such substantial monetary involvement in tobacco companies’ interests, it wouldn’t be very beneficial for her to follow through on her promise to fight the use of tobacco products, would it?
According to the Wall Street Journal, Fitzgerald claims that she did not make the investments herself. She says the stocks were purchased by someone working for her investment manager, and that she directed them to sell the stocks when she did find out about the purchase.
Stocks and Scandals
Dr. Fitzgerald is definitely not the only official to be facing backlash for investments that seem to be in conflict with their official responsibilities. While executive branch employees are forbidden to work on issues in which they have a financial interest, members of Congress don’t play by the same rules.
Lawmakers are allowed to write and vote on bills that would impact themselves financially. They are required to disclose their financial positions and report when the assets are bought and sold. This includes holdings of their spouse and dependent children. But when you take a close look at some of these instances, it is kind of rattling.
Last month, Democratic Senator Patty Murray had claimed Fitzgerald’s ability to perform her role was hindered by conflicts of interest. And yet, when Murray was the top Democrat on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) her husband owned an account with a manager who bought and sold stock in Reynolds American, another tobacco company.
Aides to Senator Murray state,
“The disclosure form shows the liquidation of an account managed by a broker without guidance.”
Even the most senior Republican in the Senate, Orrin Hatch from Utah, who is also a member of the HELP committee, owned stock in Marlboro manufacturer Philip Morris International. In late 2012 Hatch was a joint owner with between $15,001 and $50,000 of stock in Philip Morris.
Fitzgerald had also recently procured stocks in two Big Pharma giants, Merck and Bayer. While the CDC does not regulate the pharmaceutical industry, their recommendations and policies do have an impact on drug manufacturers.
To be fair, there is no evidence thus far that Fitzgerald has committed any wrongdoing; there is no indication her financial ties influenced her leadership, and she has denied she was aware of the purchases being made in her name. The same goes for Murray and Hatch.
However, the fact that this shake-up is making headlines for all the wrong reasons has some people wondering how many politicians involved in public health are using stocks to bet against healthcare getting better.
How could private investments indirectly impact other areas of healthcare, like pharmaceutical drugs or mental health and addiction treatment resources? How could the issues currently surrounding the CDC end up impacting the fight against addiction and the opioid crisis?
The CDC and other health agencies play a big part in helping fight the opioid epidemic and other serious issues pertaining to drug addiction. The more resources we have, the more chances we have of turning things around. The same goes for people trying to recover from drugs or alcohol. The more resources you have, the more chances to get better. Palm Partners Recovery Center offers personalized holistic treatment options to help you transform your life. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
It seems politicians are telling people- take your pick; guns or marijuana… you can’t have both.
Back in 2016, you may recall that we did an article covering the story of S. Rowan Wilson, a Nevada resident who in 2011 was denied when attempting to purchase a handgun when the gun store owner recognized her as a medical marijuana cardholder. In court, Wilson maintained that she does not herself use marijuana, but in August of 2016, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided in a 3-0 vote that if you have a medical marijuana card, you can’t buy a gun.
Recently the ideas behind this case have sparked renewed outrage and discussion over whether or not medical marijuana users should be permitted to own a firearm. The gun control debate is one that is already being consistently argued in the shadow of recent mass shootings and pushing from politicians to address the issue. But drug policy impacting gun policy adds a new perspective to the conversation.
Now there are several states cracking down on marijuana users, and it has some people up in arms about how even though states are legalizing medical marijuana use, federal law and many state governments are cutting them off from their right to gun ownership.
Under Federal Influence
According to federal law, gun purchases are already prohibited to people who are described as:
“-unlawful user and/or addict of any controlled substance.”
Back in 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) insisted that the law applies to marijuana users-
“regardless of whether [their] State has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes.”
So it seems the ATF and the federal government are pulling out all the stops when it comes to making sure marijuana users aren’t allowed to own guns.
The decision in the care of Wilson and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals includes the areas:
- District of Alaska
- District of Arizona
- Central District of California
- Eastern District of California
- Northern District of California
- Southern District of California
- District of Hawaii
The Supreme Court ruled that it is NOT a violation of 2nd Amendment Rights to deny guns to marijuana patients. The impact of that ruling has now begun to spread. It would seem the federal government thus far is standing by this. Special Agent Joshua E. Jackson of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington D.C. states:
“There are no exceptions in federal law for marijuana used for medicinal or recreational purposes.”
And as far as things look now, there will be no change anytime soon to the federal government’s stance on marijuana. Especially with the current administration emphasizing so heavily a law and order approach to drug policy.
More States Against Marijuana and Guns
Even though there are 29 states and Washington D.C. that have voted to allow patients to have access to medical marijuana, several of these states are choosing to trade that opportunity for a shot at gun ownership. In fact, just this week a few state officials announced their own stance against allowing gun owners to be medical marijuana patients.
In a move that spurred a backlash of viral videos and other reports, Hawaii took a bold step in this effort. Last week the Honolulu Police Department sent letters to medical marijuana users saying that they will need to turn in their weapons within 30 days of receipt. According to Leafly, a copy of one of these letters states:
“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition.”
However, the letter also apparently says that the medical marijuana patients can get their firearms back. The stipulation being they would need a doctor’s clearance to do so.
A similar situation happened in Pennsylvania. The state police director of the Bureau of Records and Identification, Major Scott C. Price, made an announcement on Tuesday stating:
“So, in fact, an individual who is issued a medical marijuana card in Pennsylvania who is a user of medical marijuana, that individual would be prohibited from purchasing or technically possession of a firearm under federal law.”
So Pennsylvania won’t allow people to even be in possession of a firearm at any time with a medical marijuana card.
Ohio’s medical marijuana program becomes operation in September of 2018. Information from industry analysts estimate that 24% of the state’s population have qualifying conditions; that’s 2.8 million Ohioans. But just this week it was announced that people in the Buckeye State who register to legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes will also be prohibited from possessing firearms.
According to the ATF letter from back in 2011, marijuana users are also prohibited from:
- Possessing firearms or ammunition
So anyone in Ohio who is applying to purchase a gun from a licensed dealer must sign a form attesting her or she is not “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance.”
Under federal law, lying on the form is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Even Joe Eaton, southwest spokesman for the Buckeye Firearms Association says they are confused at this point,
““There is definitely a conflict between the state laws and the federal laws,”
Some Ohio law enforcement officials are also unsure at this point how to enforce these situations as of the moment, and are depending on their prosecutors to provide more clarification through the conflict with state and federal law.
Will Marijuana Users Go Molon Labe?
For those unfamiliar with the term, molon labe is Greek for “come and take [them]”. This declaration has been repeated by many generals and politicians to express an army’s or nation’s determination not to surrender. The motto ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ is on the emblem of the I Army Corps of Greece and the Second Infantry Division of Cyprus, and is also the motto of United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT). The expression “Come and take it” was a slogan in the Texas Revolution.
It is also a popular choice of words for many 2nd Amendment advocates.
The question becomes, how will the hardcore 2nd Amendment supporters react to this ruling against medical marijuana and guns? Some actually believe this may actually inspire the National Rifle Association (NRA) to become pro-medical marijuana at the federal level. Will this kind of shift in support turn the tide?
Will avid gun owners come out in strong opposition to taking away guns from medical marijuana patients, or will they agree that drug use should disqualify them from owning or possessing weapons and ammunition?
How should authorities proceed? Is this a safe political sit rep or another war of opinions waiting to happen?
Treating Marijuana Abuse
Whether or not you support gun ownership of medical marijuana patients, we should all be able to get behind having treatment resources for anyone who struggles with substance abuse.
Marijuana, much like any other substance, can be abused and have an adverse impact on the overall quality of life for many people. No matter what the legal status of any drug, it can still have a negative impact on people who grapple with substance use disorder. We know this all too well, as plenty of prescription medications helped create the opioid crisis in America.
There still needs to be resources available to help people who suffer from abuse. Supporting addiction recovery means breaking the stigma and offering holistic and effective solutions. Palm Healthcare Company is here to help. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
A while back, CVS made the bold decision to cease the sale of tobacco products in their stores. Now, new data reveals their decision to stop selling cigarettes contributed to a drop in tobacco purchases from all retailers. Furthermore, CVS customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes, according to research from the American Journal of Public Health.
The analysis comes less than three years after the company stopped selling all tobacco products. The move garnered national attention from public health advocates, doctors, and even the white house.
“After CVS’s tobacco removal, household- and population-level cigarette purchasing declined significantly,” the study concluded.
CVS officially stopped selling tobacco products as of October 1, 2014, at its CVS/pharmacy stores. The decision had the greatest impact on customers who bought cigarettes only at CVS drugstores. Those particular customers were 38% more likely to stop buying cigarettes altogether.
To gather those numbers, the study used household purchasing data to examine American households that stopped buying cigarettes for at least six months during the period of September 2014 to August 2015. The study, written by CVS executives and paid for by the company, was a peer-reviewed article, the journal disclosed.
“When we removed tobacco from our shelves, a significant number of our customers simply stopped buying and hopefully smoking cigarettes altogether instead of just altering their cigarette purchasing habits,” Dr. Troyen Brennan, CVS Health chief medical officer, said in a statement.
“This research proves that our decision had a powerful public health impact by disrupting access to cigarettes and helping more of our customers on their path to better health.”
The decision by CVS to cut off tobacco sales amounted to a loss of $2 billion in annual sales that existed when it sold cigarettes. Still, the drugstore’s overall sales have been increasing in the last three years thanks to new business from the Affordable Care Act which benefit the pharmacy. CVS is growing significantly as a medical service business.
As for its rivals, the CVS decision has not triggered a trend. None of the other stores such as Wal-Mart, Rite Aid or Walgreens Boots Alliance have followed suit with their own plans to stop selling cigarettes. The pressure from the public and some of their shareholders has not made enough of an impact to change their mind. Walgreens, for example, has instead decided to push more smoking cessation products alongside their tobacco products.
The response from customers in regards to the ban was mixed. Some commended the stand from CVS saying it was a step in the right direction. These days, smoking is banned in restaurants, schools, and even certain parks, so the move did seem to follow the ongoing trend.
On the other hands, many people were outraged at the decision. Some stated it was hypocritical because CVS continues to sell alcohol, candy, and sugary drinks, which can be equally as harmful to the health. Therefore, the argument was made that it is the choice of the customer, not CVS, to decide.
With these recent results, it is evident that CVS may have gotten the result they were hoping for. More outside studies are needed to fully determine the impact the ban had on smoking trends. Still, it sends a message loud and clear that CVS will no longer support tobacco products.
What do you think about the ban? Should other pharmacies follow? In recovery, it is important to take steps to living a healthy life. Perhaps quitting smoking is something you should consider. If you are struggling to quit smoking, or are struggling with any addiction, please call now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
If you smoke cigarettes, I know you probably do not want to read another article about how much cigarettes are bad for you. You already know that.
And as much as I would love to say this article was not going to be like the rest, I’d be lying. Scientists have found yet another reason why smoking is so bad for you: it can permanently damage your DNA.
Quitting smoking is not an easy feat, but perhaps understanding how it can permanently alter your DNA will encourage you to take that big step. Researchers reported Tuesday that smoking damages DNA in clear patterns. The good news is most of the damage can fade over time, but not all of it.
Researchers conducted a study of 16,000 people and found that smoking cigarettes can cause damage to the genetic footprint. However, after five years of abstaining from cigarettes, most of the damage reverses. Shockingly, though, some of the damage appears to stay there forever.
The process is called methylation, and it is when the alteration of DNA can inactivate a gene or change how it function—often causing cancer and other diseases.
“Our study has found compelling evidence that smoking has a long-lasting impact on our molecular machinery, an impact that can last more than 30 years,” said Roby Joehanes of Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard Medical School.
Heart disease and cancer are both caused by genetic damage—some from your ancestry, but most of it, from your day-to-day living choices. Smoking, as you probably guessed, is one of the biggest culprits.
So what should people do to stop and reverse the damage? Quit smoking.
“The encouraging news is that once you stop smoking, the majority of DNA methylation signals return to never-smoker levels after five years, which means your body is trying to heal itself of the harmful impacts of tobacco smoking,” Joehanes said.
To gather results for the study, the team collected blood samples given by 16,000 people going back to 1971. In all the studies, people were given blood samples and filled out questionnaires about smoking, diet, and their health history.
The results found “compelling evidence” that smoking had a long-lasting impact on a molecular level. They discovered that smokers had a pattern of methylation changes affecting more than 7,000 genes or one-third of known human genes. Many of the genes were linked to heart diseases and cancers known to be caused by smoking.
Of course, never smoking, to begin with, is ideal, but there is hope. Those who quit smoking reverted to the patterns seen in those who never smoked after about five years, the team reported.
Still, some damage remains permanent despite dropping the habit.
“Equally important is our finding that even after someone stops smoking, we still see the effects of smoking on their DNA,” London said.
According to the CDC, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable illness, killing more than 48,000 Americans each year. Globally, tobacco kills about 6 million people a year through cancer, heart disease, lung disease and other illnesses.
The promising news is that smoking rates have plummeted in the United States. Now, only about 15 percent of U.S adults smoke and just 11 percent of high school students smoke. More and more restaurants are becoming entirely non-smoking, specifically, bars that were geared towards smokers in the past. Many universities and workplaces are declaring themselves as tobacco-free.
Quitting smoking has clear benefits, even if it is later in life. But it won’t wipe the slate clean.
“Even decades after cessation, cigarette smoking confers long-term risk of diseases including some cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke,” London’s team wrote. “The mechanisms for these long-term effects are not well understood. DNA methylation changes have been proposed as one possible explanation.”
The earlier you quit smoking, the less you have to worry about the potential permanent damage you have already caused to your body. Furthermore, most of the damage from smoking can be reversed if you just make the decision to quit smoking today. There are so many resources out there that can help you acquire the tools to succeed.
Quitting smoking is not easy, but it is worth the benefits to your physical and mental health. In the beginning stages of recovery, quitting smoking may be the least of your worries. However, later on, it is important to understand the tremendous benefits quitting will have on your health for years to come. Make the decision to quit today. If you are struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
The answer has arrived. After decades of debates and controversy over the best way to quit smoking, scientists have finally confirmed the absolute best way to stop smoking. This method was found to be more successful than any other method out there; better than pills or e-cigarettes. What could it possibly be?
QUITTING COLD TURKEY!
Turns out, quitting cigarettes cold turkey is the most powerful method of dropping the habit. Now, before you get angry at me for luring you into this obvious solution, hang on a second! You have to admit; it is surprising that this method of quitting is the most effective. After all, each and every year, different cigarette alternatives hit the market. Everything from vaping to nicotine patches to gums is released to aid in quitting smoking. Evidently, these alternatives can be more of a distraction than a real solution to quitting in the long run.
This topic has raised controversy for years. On one side, people believe it is better to taper off smoking cigarettes. Others stand by quitting cold turkey. In some ways, it makes perfect sense why people want to taper off. When it comes to other addictions like substance dependencies, typically medical professionals wean people off those drugs. However, when it comes to cigarettes, immediately throwing those packs of cigarettes in the trash appears to be the best solution.
The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, and what they found was people who quit cold turkey were much less likely to start smoking again compared to individuals who didn’t. Quitting smoking cold turkey disproves previous theories on tapering:
“If you’re training for a marathon, you wouldn’t expect to turn up and just be able to run it. And I think people see that for smoking as well. They think, ‘Well, if I gradually reduce it’s almost practice,'” said the study’s author, Nicola Lindson-Hawley from the University of Oxford.
The research follows 700 smokers in England who were planning to quit smoking. At the time, all the participants were smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Four weeks later, the researchers checked in. They found that smokers who quit cold turkey were more successful with a 49% quit rate compared to 39% in the gradual group. At six months, things start to get interesting. Only 15% of people who quit smoking were able to maintain it. On the other hand, 22% of the cold turkey groups were able to stay cigarette-free.
If you cannot see yourself quitting cold turkey anytime soon, good news: future research plans to understand how alternatives could be more effective in helping people stop.
Lindson-Hawley added, “If there are individuals who feel they can’t quit abruptly, and they want to stop gradually—otherwise they won’t try to quit at all—we still need to support them to do that.”
Furthermore, while the cold turkey group had a higher success rate, those who quit gradually preferred that method over quitting cold turkey. The important thing is for people to commit to dropping the habit for good. The more dedicated you are to quitting, the more likely you are to stop smoking cigarettes.
“I think that’s the piece that’s so convincing, which is that regardless of your stated preference, if you’re ready to quit, quitting abruptly is more effective,” said Dr. Gabriela Ferreira, of the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. “That’s a compelling number, and I think that translates to the patient. It gives them the encouragement, I think, to go for it.”
Those in the medical field believe studies like these are an excellent way to start a conversation and give doctors tools to help patients eager to quit more efficiently. Regardless of what you believe in, taking a step to quit is a good way of improving your health overall.
Quitting smoking can be one of the healthiest changes you make for yourself. While quitting smoking can be challenging, it is not impossible. Most of all, it is worth it. If you are well into your recovery and ready to quit, try doing it cold turkey first before looking into alternatives. If your or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.