Saturday, August 25, 2012

Discriminatory Bill Shot Down by Illinois Governor...For Now..

 Thanks to Audrey Silk for posting this on Facebook via NYC CLASH-

Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill that would have allowed the Cancer Treatment Centers of America to not hire any workers who smoke or use other types of tobacco. 
Thank you Governor Quinn. There is at least one politician in my home state that values privacy. What's really alarming however, is the fact that this bill made it expeditiously through both houses of the Illinois legislature.

The bill would have allowed Cancer Treatment Centers to screen prospective employees for tobacco as a condition of employment. Other hospitals and employers would not be able to discriminate against tobacco users when making hiring decisions because their sole business isn't treating cancer patients.  

Had this bill been signed by Governor Quinn, it would have been ok to deny employment to tobacco users at such facilities that cater only to treating cancer patients. Apparently, the  notion is that tobacco use (in all of its forms) has now been declared as the sole cause of all cancers! There are no other substances that can be attributed to cancer (sarcasm intended). Had this bill passed, would this not have also set a precedent that would have enabled such institutions to refuse employment to anyone that partakes in any activity anywhere that is either loosely or directly related to cancer? Anyone with an inkling of foresight should recognize the inconsistencies of this bill under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Yes, we still have a constitution. Hallelujah!

The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV. In other words, the laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. A violation would occur, for example, if a state prohibited an individual from entering into an employment contract because he or she was a member of a particular race. The equal protection clause is not intended to provide "equality" among individuals or classes but only "equal application" of the laws. The result, therefore, of a law is not relevant so long as there is no discrimination in its application. By denying states the ability to discriminate, the equal protection clause of the Constitution is crucial to the protection of civil rights.
Oh, but of course there are those who are hell bent on ramming their agenda through, even at the expense of our precious civil liberties:

Cancer Treatment Center executives said the company is working with legislators to reintroduce the bill in the November and December veto session.

Of course they are. Maybe they should spend more time looking for a cure for cancer.

Quinn vetoes employment bill that targeted smokers -

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Federal Judge Recognizes the Obvious

 "Because of the limited number of viewpoints on these issues, the scientific — as opposed to political — nature of those viewpoints, and the distinct responsibilities of the committee, I believe I have sufficient standards which I can evaluate the agency's discretion," Leon wrote in his order.

What an understatement.

Judge Allows Challenge of FDA Tobacco Panel to Proceed

Let's take a look at who sits on the FDA Tobacco Advisory Panel in this March 2012 press release from Audrey Silk of NYC Clash:


The ostensible point of the FDA's new congressionally-granted powers to regulate tobacco was to responsibly oversee the manufacture, marketing and distribution of tobacco in the name of harm reduction.

"But instead," says Audrey Silk, founder of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.), "the panel they've chosen to accomplish this task seems deliberately selected to steer away from that mission toward another: promoting lucrative substitutions.  Far from being composed of objective and cleanly disinterested scientists,  the list of  participants  announced so far has been shown to be deeply biased against tobacco,  biased against smokers and neck-deep in pharmaceutical-rooted conflicts of interest."

Err, I don't think that we're going to see harm reduction anytime soon with these folks influencing decision makers:

¶   Jonathan Samet, the Committee's chairman, is director of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control, which is funded by Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of nicotine replacement products and quit-smoking drugs.  An activist in the stamp-out-tobacco movement since the early 1980's, he's also pursued his studies through the generous funding of anti-tobacco lobby groups and GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr.  Neil Benowitz scores a trifecta-- financially beholden to Pfizer, GSK, and Nabi Pharmaceuticals. Most famously, Benowitz co-authored a study whose purpose was to establish a scientific basis for the use of Pfizer's Chantix as a quit-smoking aid; thereafter he continued to act as a paid consultant in promoting the drug's use.  Chantix, called "the most dangerous drug in America" in 2008 by the Institute for Safe Medication Practice, has also earned a black box from the FDA as an established cause of  "serious neuropsychiatric symptoms" including  violence,  hallucinations, seizures, uncontrolled muscular spasms,  clinical depression and completed suicide. The FAA banned its use by pilots.

Dr.  Dorothy Hatsukami is a recipient of a grant from Nabi Biopharmacueticals to develop a vaccine (NicVAX) against nicotine use.  Anti-nicotine vaccines are said to get their effect by blocking the pleasure receptors in the brain.
Dr.  Jack Henningfield, another paid consultant for GlaxoSmithKline,  additionally owns the patent on a proprietary nicotine replacement product.

Dr. Greg Connolly, a former Director of Tobacco Control for the state of Massachusetts,  has long been among the most active and ardent of the Anti-Smoking advocates in the history of such advocacy.   In his official capacity,  and with taxpayer money, he  has denigrated,  banned and "denormalized" smokers. Further, according to Dr. Elizabeth Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, "Connolly is the most extreme anti-harm reduction person I've ever heard of."

¶ Most egregious where C.L.A.S.H. is concerned, Patricia Nez Henderson was chosen by FDA to "represent the public," as though the "public" were composed of,  and only composed of,  professional anti-smokers and nonsmokers.  As a member of the board of the extremist  Americans for Nonsmokers Rights-- a well-known anti-smoker group – Ms. Henderson's perspective is hardly "representative" of the public whose interests are directly affected by the actions of this committee and the “public,” it was reasonable to assume, the FDA meant when soliciting an advocate to fill that seat.  The "public," in this case, is the consumer.

Click on the link above to read this press release in its entirety.

Thank you Audrey Silk for all of your hard work!