The European Parliament is set to vote on a batch of regulations on Wednesday that will treat electronic cigarettes like regular tobacco products.
Starting in 2016, advertisements for e-cigs will be banned in all 28 nations of the European Union, just like tobacco ads. The packing must be childproof and have graphic health warning labels printed on them. Meanwhile, nicotine content will be limited to 20 milligrams per milliliter, same as tobacco cigarettes.
The European Union's large scale e-cigarette regulations could set a template for the rest of the world to follow. Many cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles, have taken it upon themselves to regulate electronic cigarettes - which heat nicotine-infused propylene gycol into vapor - instead of waiting on the FDA's decision.
The new e-regulations are part of a larger anti-smoking regulatory package, will which impose even more severe rules on tobacco cigarettes, including banning all kid-friendly flavors and requiring 65 percent of packaging to feature graphic health warnings and photos of diseased lungs. But the restrictions are not as tough on e-cigs as the parliament's original proposal, which would have treated the product as medicine.
“This is a victory,” said Linda McAvan, the British Labour Party member of the European Parliament. “The original proposal was stricter, and I would have voted for that, but the new law is anyway a huge step forward in tobacco control."
Tobacco and e-cigarette companies are of course unhappy about the measure. To Drago Azinovic, president of European operations for Phillip Morris International, the new regulation revamp “represents a worrying departure from the E.U.’s basic standards of proportionate, evidenced-based policy making, which will further erode intellectual property rights and undermine the E.U. charter where these rights are protected.”
While the new proposals do allow leeway for member states to classify e-cigarettes as quit-smoking products if they'd like, some members of the European parliament aren't happy with the outcome.
“This was a very bad agreement,” says Martin Callanan, a British Conservative Party politician who believes e-cigarettes could help people quit smoking. “It’s a massive loss for public health in Europe.”
Two days before the Academy Awards, Los Angeles-based street artist Plastic Jesus displayed an eight foot replica of an Oscar shooting heroin into its arm. Inspired by the overdose death of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, the statue was placed on Hollywood Boulevard just blocks away from the Kodak Theater where the Oscars were to be held.
“Hard drugs are still seen as a taboo subject, with people using in the privacy of their own home or hotel room and afraid of the consequences if the world finds out about their addiction,” Plastic Jesus said in a statement. “My piece is intended to say ‘let’s be aware of the issue, remove the stigma and enable people to get help and support.'”
Heroin addiction and overdose has taken a personal toll on the artist, which also contributed to his inspiration. “My cousin and his wife both died from heroin addictions. They both got clean and actually met in rehab and got married and got [a] house," he said. "Sadly, one relapsed and caused the other to relapse.”
Reactions across the social media landscape were decidedly mixed, with some apparently "disgusted" by the display while others declared the statue to be "a powerful piece of commentary."
Last Friday, Hoffman's autopsy report was released and revealed that the actor died of a lethal mix of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. On Oscar night, Hoffman was prominently featured in the Academy's annual In Memoriam tribute during the telecast.
Watch the Oscars In Memoriam tribute:
Drug enforcement officials have raised concern over a new drug that creates heroin-like symptoms, but is being sold over the counter as a tea at head shops. Kratom has been creating a major buzz due to several YouTube videos of users raving over the drug while they’re high on it. Made from the leaves of trees that grow in Southeast Asia, Kratom is being sold in head shops as a pill or powder that can be stirred into beverages. It acts as a stimulant in small doses and a sedative in larger ones. A bag of 30 Kratom pills sold at a head shop typically costs about $30.
"Kratom is what they refer to in the medical community as an opiate with a roof where you can only get so high,” said one user in their YouTube video. But even the promoters of Kratom acknowledge the drug can cause unpleasant side effects including nervousness, aggression, sleeplessness, and tremors. There are also recent reports of Kratom users ending up in emergency rooms with symptoms similar to heroin withdrawal.
Although head shops often sell the drug under the premise that it’s an “all-natural extract” that helps relieve pain and induce sleep, it’s currently not approved for any medical purpose in the U.S.
Kratom is currently on the watch list put out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Jonathan Fulkerson, deputy chief counsel for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, confirmed that “it is illegal to...sell it as a drug. Kratom is on our radar for the reasons it's on the DEA's radar. It’s a drug of concern.”
Michelle Duggar is best known for her brood of 19 children and TLC reality show 19 Kids and Counting, but she's now making headlines for revealing her battle with bulimia during her teenage years. In the latest family memoir Growing Up Duggar: It's All About Relationships, she admitted to feeling pressure to stay slim as a child from competing in cheerleading and gymnastics.
"Genetically, I could put on weight easily, but with my activities...it was important for me not to,” she told People magazine. “I would look around and compare myself to my friends, saying ‘Oh my, she’s so small,’ or ‘She has such skinny legs.’”
This ultimately led to her eating disorder that carried on for nearly three years. She would make herself throw up whenever she felt she had consumed too many calories and did so on a nearly daily basis. It was only when she met Jim Bob at the age of 16 that she knew it was time to break free of her eating disorder.
“The freedom came when I talked about it,” she said. “I met Jim Bob and he and I were in a dating relationship and I loved this guy and I wanted to marry him,” said Michelle. “You can’t keep secrets from the man you want to share your life with. I shared this struggle with him and he said he would help me and keep me accountable.”
The pair then began going on sugar fasts together whenever she felt the need to purge. Although she admits it took her years to fully get over those urges, she eventually moved past her eating disorder and now considers herself to be fully recovered more than 30 years later. “That solid accountability with another human being, a deep love and strong focus was where I found my freedom,” said Michelle. “If my sharing this is going to help another young lady, then I want to share it.”
- Philip Seymour Hoffman Died Of Massive Drug OD, Autopsy Says [Daily News]
- George Lopez Arrested For Drunkenness In Canadian Casino [Los Angeles Times]
- Chris Brown Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, PTSD [TMZ]
- British Student Suspected Of Ketchup Addiction [Metro]
- White House Says President Obama Has Not Tried E-Cigs [Washington Times]
- Colorado Veterinarians Seeing More Dogs That Have Eaten Edible Marijuana [CBS Denver]
- Utah College Students Busted For Smoking Pot In Igloo [CNN]
- Drunk Chicago Man Takes Pet Tiger For Walk Through Downtown [KSDK]
Tennessee, one of the last states that allows citizens to have open containers of alcohol in moving cars, is set to change their ways. The proposed "Pass the Bottle" law would punish both drivers and passengers for any open containers of alcohol in their vehicle.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jon Lundberg (R), says that Tennessee law basically allows citizens to drink while they drive. “It’s really quite sad…It’s legal to drink alcohol in a car in Tennessee,” Lundberg said. “Often it’s the driver doing it and when the car is pulled over, he simply passes the bottle to the passenger.”
The current law only fines the driver if an officer is able to determine that the driver was the one drinking, but Lundberg's proposed law would fine all occupants of the vehicle if an open container of alcohol is present. Local municipal governments back Lundberg's bill because, as one of the 11 states that fails to comply with federal road regulations, Tennessee has “foregone more than $90 million in federal transportation funding."
If enacted, the 650 open container violations each year could bring in $40 each and $1.5 million in annual federal funding to the state. “These are monies that could be used to build roads and build bridges,” Lundberg said.
Critics of the bill say it's a superfluous measure that attacks the freedom of law-abiding drinkers who have assigned a designated driver and does not address the issue of drunk driving. Passengers of limousines or living quarters of recreational vehicles are exempt from the bill.