Current Issues

For many, smoking continues to be seen as a common bond for members of an exclusive group, part of an entrenched social norm. Supporting that mindset are tobacco companies that invest mightily to keep that smoking culture alive today.

A recent campaign by the Truth Initiative, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to smoking cessation among youth and young adults," revealed "tobacco industry documents made public as evidence in litigation," according to HowStuffWorks.com. Within the documents, they uncovered internal tobacco industry references to members of the U.S. military as "the plums that are here to be plucked."

What are the results of the tobacco industry's harvest? Smoking costs the Department of Defense more than $1.6 billion per year, taking into account tobacco-related hospitalization, medical care and lost workdays. For far too many young men and women, military service has left them with an unshakable addiction to a substance that has been found to harm nearly every organ system in the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans have died from smoking than in all the wars the United States has fought.

What we are learning is that teenagers do not see "vaping" an e-cigarette as harmful. The majority of teenagers vape for the flavors, not realizing that they are inhaling nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Many teenagers picking up an e-cigarette have never smoked a traditional cigarette and now, according to current research, have become four times more likely to do so. This current trend has been successful in putting nicotine in every classroom across America. As we were recently reminded by a U.S. Surgeon General report, in just over a year, this substance's rate of use has doubled.

While it is true that nicotine is not the major cause of tobacco-related disease, it is the addictive chemical in both tobacco and e-cigarettes that binds the user to the product. At its worst, it can create an addiction where some lose their capacity to make a free choice. It seems clear that e-cigarette use among young people is associated with a progression toward greater cigarette use.

As I said last week, the recent announcement by Altria, the leading U.S. cigarette manufacturer and parent company of Philip Morris, should make clear the nexus between traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The company recently announced it is making a $12.8 billion investment in e-cigarette maker Juul and plans to aggressively help promote the e-cigarette brand. This investment gives the tobacco industry direct access to a new pipeline of millions of young e-cigarette users and a growth market for their tobacco products. 

If Big Tobacco is expert in anything, it is how to surgically aim alluring advertising and packaging at young people and capitalize on trends to reap new lifelong customers. If we are to be successful in combating the public health threat this vaping epidemic represents, then media messages must begin to offer a different social perception: from "Smoking e-cigarettes is cool" to "You are being played."

For complete article

For many, smoking continues to be seen as a common bond for members of an exclusive group, part of an entrenched social norm. Supporting that mindset are tobacco companies that invest mightily to keep that smoking culture alive today.

A recent campaign by the Truth Initiative, a nonprofit organization "dedicated to smoking cessation among youth and young adults," revealed "tobacco industry documents made public as evidence in litigation," according to HowStuffWorks.com. Within the documents, they uncovered internal tobacco industry references to members of the U.S. military as "the plums that are here to be plucked."

What are the results of the tobacco industry's harvest? Smoking costs the Department of Defense more than $1.6 billion per year, taking into account tobacco-related hospitalization, medical care and lost workdays. For far too many young men and women, military service has left them with an unshakable addiction to a substance that has been found to harm nearly every organ system in the body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans have died from smoking than in all the wars the United States has fought.

What we are learning is that teenagers do not see "vaping" an e-cigarette as harmful. The majority of teenagers vape for the flavors, not realizing that they are inhaling nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Many teenagers picking up an e-cigarette have never smoked a traditional cigarette and now, according to current research, have become four times more likely to do so. This current trend has been successful in putting nicotine in every classroom across America. As we were recently reminded by a U.S. Surgeon General report, in just over a year, this substance's rate of use has doubled.

While it is true that nicotine is not the major cause of tobacco-related disease, it is the addictive chemical in both tobacco and e-cigarettes that binds the user to the product. At its worst, it can create an addiction where some lose their capacity to make a free choice. It seems clear that e-cigarette use among young people is associated with a progression toward greater cigarette use.

As I said last week, the recent announcement by Altria, the leading U.S. cigarette manufacturer and parent company of Philip Morris, should make clear the nexus between traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The company recently announced it is making a $12.8 billion investment in e-cigarette maker Juul and plans to aggressively help promote the e-cigarette brand. This investment gives the tobacco industry direct access to a new pipeline of millions of young e-cigarette users and a growth market for their tobacco products. 

If Big Tobacco is expert in anything, it is how to surgically aim alluring advertising and packaging at young people and capitalize on trends to reap new lifelong customers. If we are to be successful in combating the public health threat this vaping epidemic represents, then media messages must begin to offer a different social perception: from "Smoking e-cigarettes is cool" to "You are being played."

For complete article

Alex Berenson’s new book delves into research linking heavy use with violent crime and mental illness. by Stephanie Mencimer Mother Jones (San Francisco), January 5, 2019. 

It’s been a few years since Alex Berenson has “committed journalism,” as he likes to say. As a New York Times reporter, Berenson did two tours covering the Iraq War, an experience that inspired him to write his first of nearly a dozen spy novels. Starting with the 2006 Edgar Award-winning The Faithful Spy, his books were so successful that he left the Times in 2010 to write fiction full time. But his latest book, out January 8, strays far from the halls of Langley and the jihadis of Afghanistan. Tell Your Children is nonfiction that takes a sledgehammer to the promised benefits of marijuana legalization, and cannabis enthusiasts are not going to like it one bit.

The book was seeded one night a few years ago when Berenson’s wife, a psychiatrist who evaluates mentally ill criminal defendants in New York, started talking about a horrific case she was handling. It was “the usual horror story, somebody who’d cut up his grandmother or set fire to his apartment – typical bedtime chat in the Berenson house,” he writes. But then, his wife added, “Of course he was high, been smoking pot his whole life.”

Berenson, who smoked a bit in college, didn’t have strong feelings about marijuana one way or another, but he was skeptical that it could bring about violent crime. Like most Americans, he thought stoners ate pizza and played video games – they didn’t hack up family members. Yet his Harvard-trained wife insisted that all the horrible cases she was seeing involved people who were heavy into weed. She directed him to the science on the subject.

We look back and laugh at Reefer Madness, which was pretty over-the-top, after all, but Berenson found himself immersed in some pretty sobering evidence: Cannabis has been associated with legitimate reports of psychotic behavior and violence dating at least to the 19th century, when a Punjabi lawyer in India noted that 20 to 30 percent of patients in mental hospitals were committed for cannabis-related insanity. The lawyer, like Berenson’s wife, described horrific crimes – including at least one beheading – and attributed far more cases of mental illness to cannabis than to alcohol or opium. The Mexican government reached similar conclusions, banning cannabis sales in 1920 – nearly 20 years before the United States did – after years of reports of cannabis-induced madness and violent crime.

For complete article

Tell Your Children: 
The Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness, and Violence 
by Alex Berenson                     

(New York: Free Press, 2019) Hardcover: 272 pages ISBN: 978-1982103668 RRP: US$26.00
Book description An eye-opening report from an award-winning author and former New York Times reporter reveals the link between teenage marijuana use and mental illness, and a hidden epidemic of violence caused by the drug – facts the media have ignored as the United States rushes to legalize cannabis.

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A few years ago, the National Academy of Medicine convened a panel of sixteen leading medical experts to analyze the scientific literature on cannabis. The report they prepared, which came out in January of 2017, runs to four hundred and sixty-eight pages. It contains no bombshells or surprises, which perhaps explains why it went largely unnoticed. It simply stated, over and over again, that a drug North Americans have become enthusiastic about remains a mystery!

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December 20, 2018

We already know that cannabis lowers sperm count, but new research suggests that the drug actually causes genetic changes to the sperm itself — which might have implications for the health of a potential baby.

For a study published today in the journal Epigenetics, scientists at Duke University 

Think of your DNA as a list of instructions for making proteins, and genes as small subsets of that list. Our body has little chemical tags (called methyl groups) that get added to the DNA at specific regions, explains Susan Kay Murphy, a professor of gynecology at Duke and co-author of the study. These chemicals don’t mutate the genes themselves, but they do affect how they’re used, like deciding which instructions are followed and which aren’t.

Najari already counsels men who use marijuana regularly to cut back because of the effect on sperm count. “I think one of the important positive things about research like this is that it may further motivate men to change their health,” he adds. “It’s one thing to talk about sperm count, another when you’re talking about the potential health of the child.”

Both Najari and Murphy stress that future research needs to be done, and the Duke team is already working on follow-up studies. Are those changes reversible? Will they even end up affecting a potential baby? “

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THE DRUG ADVISORY COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA SUPPORTS

More detoxification & rehabilitation that gets illicit drug users drug free.
Court ordered and supervised detoxification & rehabilitation.
Less illicit drug users, drug pushers and drug related crimes.

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