The Wall Street Journal has put together a fascinating map of worldwide smoking rates, displaying how many cigarettes are consumed per person per year in each nation. Eastern Europe lights up like a Christmas tree: leading the world's cigarette pack is Serbia, where people cough their way through an astonishing 2,861 smokes each per year—that's about eight for every citizen every day. The Russians aren't far behind, in fourth place with 2,786 cigarettes each annually—at the cost of an estimated 400,000 lives and $48.1 billion per year. But Romania bucks the regional trend, partly thanks to some rugged laws that ban smoking in all public areas; fines of 25% of violators' incomes have been seriously proposed there.
Our planet's biggest nicotine fiends outside of Eastern Europe are the South Koreans, the Kazakhs and the Japanese, in that order; the average South Korean puffs 1,958 cigarettes per year. Despite the immense total volume of smoking in China—a world-beating 50,000 cigs a second, or 3.73 billion a day—its per capita rate is a little lower, at 1,711.
Some of the world's poorer nations are better off when it comes to smoking rates. People in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa smoke less than anyone else: Indians consume 92 cigarettes per year on average, and Ethiopians a mere 46. “If Americans smoked like that,” notes the WSJ, “Cigarette companies would collapse overnight.” Of course, any loss to the US economy would be offset by drastically reduced medical bills: smoking-related health issues currently cost the States $92 billion a year. So how much do Americans smoke? Fortunately for us, this is one contest we're a long way from winning: we rank 34th in the world, at about one thousand cigarettes per person per year—roughly on a par with the Israelis, the Australians and the Irish.
Can women be addicted to male attention? Jennifer, a 31-year-old recovering addict from California, would say so. She was hooked on heroin in her early twenties; her then-boyfriend convinced her she had a problem, and she went to rehab to get clean. She's never touched heroin again. But straight after she left rehab, a new problem began to emerge. “I’m not really sure how it happened, but I started to work for an escort service,” Jennifer tells The Fix. “It wasn’t prostitution or anything, but what drew me to this particular company was the fact that all I had to do was go on dates with men...lots of men.” Jennifer says she didn't sleep with her clients, but that working as an escort made her feel the same “high” that drugs had given her, because of all the attention she received. At the same time, she also became obsessed with constantly posting provocative pictures of herself on her Facebook page. “I honestly couldn’t stop,” she tells us. “I just had to post pictures and see how many men would comment.”
After a year of this behavior, Jennifer's increasing realization that she'd developed a new problem led her to quit working as an escort and seek counseling. She was told she was "addicted" to male attention. “It made sense to me,” she says. “I would get a jolt of adrenaline whenever any man paid attention to me, and shortly after I would come down on that feeling, and feel horrible! It was like I was on drugs.”
While the American Psychiatric Association doesn't classify Jennifer’s condition as an addiction, some mental health professionals say they regularly encounter behavior like this in recovering addicts, particlarly females. “It’s extremely common to go from one addiction to another,” Cindy Grassin, a counselor who specializes in addiction and works at a drug and alcohol rehab in California, tells The Fix. “Anything that can give you a particular feeling a former addict can be drawn to. Things such as food, exercise, or even relationships with men, are not that uncommon.” Grassin emphasizes that an obsession with or addiction to male attention is different from a sex addiction. “You’re not addicted to the act of sex with these men," she explains. "You just want them to make you feel a certain way by paying attention to you.”
Jennifer says her decision to seek counseling and quit social media helped her find the right balance in her life: “For me, social media just fed my obsession, so I had to cut it out. I feel like I’ve reached a good place, but I’m always on guard, and like all former addicts, I’m always avoiding things that can be a possible trigger.”
After a well-publicized meltdown onstage at an iHeartRadio music event last month, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong seems to be taking his recovery seriously. He has remained in rehab ever since he checked in shortly after the September incident, and the band has been vocal about their wholehearted support of their leading man—despite apparently feeling the sting of his absence. "Billie doesn't take things lightly and he wouldn't take rehab lightly, either," says bassist Mike Dirnt. But while the "basket case" recovers, the band has been forced to cancel their October 27 appearance at the Voodo Festival in New Orleans. The break in touring is "killing everyone," says Dirnt, since "Green Day has never been a band that sits still." Still, it's been something of a lesson for the bassist: "sometimes you have to step back and let life go on rather than try to control everything.” Despite the trouble Armstrong's breakdown has caused for his band, he won't be walking the lonely road of recovery alone. "I know that my friend's life is in danger and that's all I care about," says Dirnt. "We're brothers-in-arms waiting for Billie to return healthy, but we're not going to force anything."
Nicole Kidman has quit the cast of sex addiction film Nymphomaniac, after Danish director Lars von Trier decreed that the film's sex scenes will be for real. Though the movie—which will relate a female sex addict's erotic experiences—has lost Kidman, it still boasts a powerful cast, including Uma Thurman, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Willem Dafoe and Christian Slater. Then there's Shia LeBeouf, who—despite the way his first name is pronounced—seems to be pumped for some silver screen sex. “[The movie] is what you think it is. It is Lars von Trier, making a movie about what he's making,” says the Transformers star. “For instance, there's a disclaimer at the top of the script that basically says we're doing it for real. Everything that is illegal, we'll shoot in blurred images. Other than that, everything is happening.” So eager was he to prove himself ready to participate in the “woman's erotic journey from birth to the age of 50” that he sent a home sex tape of him and his girlfriend to the producers. LeBeouf's previous method acting measures have included tripping on acid. Despite the plot, and von Trier's own reference to the movie as a “porno,” he insists the movie isn't really going to be one: “When we call this a porno, it's meant ironically, but irony doesn't work well in print. The film is sexually explicit—but, believe me, it will be a very, very bad wanking movie."
Cellphone videos revealing the drunken behavior of US security contractors stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan have sparked a lawsuit and raised fears that sensitive relations will be further damaged. The videos were filmed by John Melson and Kenny Smith, two former employees of the Jorge Scientific firm in Kabul, where they helped train Afghan security personnel. They're now suing the firm, claiming that perpetual drunken, reckless behavior compromised the work environment. They allege that Jorge contractors frequently misused their weapons, abused local staffers, destroyed furniture and cars, and "were often too intoxicated to perform their duties." The videos, which were filmed in January and February, are being used as evidence. They depict shirtless, intoxicated men rolling on the floor and yelling at the camera; stacks of empty booze bottles and a syringe, are visible in the background. "This behavior actually was almost every other night," says Smith. The lawsuit also cites a February 2012 incident in which employees were allegedly "heavily intoxicated and grabbing at each other's weapons and firing them in the air."
Jorge Scientific states that they've since implemented a no-drinking policy, and "pledges to fully investigate and correct any mistakes to preserve and continue its history of exemplary performance." They reject claims that any work was compromised, and also say that the men in the video were not in top-security positions, and that their drunkenness would not therefore have posed a threat to safety. But Smith and Melson's attorney, David Scher, argues that the company is downplaying the men's roles. "These individuals are the security manager for the facility, and the operations manager for security for the entire country of Afghanistan for the company," he says. "These people were drunk beyond the point of incoherence, and could not possibly defend themselves if they were attacked." The US Army, who are supposed to supervise security contractors like those at Jorge Scientific, are currently investigating.
The libel lawsuit filed by Britney Spears' ex-manager opened yesterday, and is going to get messy, with startling accusations flying around of rampant drug use by the pop princess. Sam Lufti, who managed Britney Spears during the peak of her meltdown in 2007, is suing her parents, Jamie and Lynn Spears. He claims their remarks about him being manipulative and taking advantage of Britney ruined his career, and that he didn't receive proper compensation for his work. As The Fix exclusively reported, Lutfi was set to make 15% of Spears' gross earning as her manager, or $120,000 per month—and Lutfi claims that Britney Spears, who is under a conservatorship and won't be allowed to appear as a witness at the trial, is being gagged to prevent her testifying in his favor. His lawyer, Joseph Schleimer, alleges that Lutfi tried to save Britney from her prescription pill addiction. And his opening statement yesterday declared not only that Britney OD'd on amphetamines the night she was strapped to a stretcher and sent to a mental hospital in January 2008, but that her infamous head-shaving was done so traces of drugs couldn't be found in her hair follicles.
"[Sam Lutfi] was made a scapegoat for the drug abuse and erratic behavior of Britney Spears," said Schleimer. "She liked to use amphetamines—speed or uppers. She liked to take that drug. And most of the things that went wrong were related to that drug." He continued, ''My client has never been paid for serving as her manager. He was made famous as the guy who drugged Britney Spears and put her in the hospital. The evidence will show the defendants ruined my client's reputation.'' But the presiding judge seemed less than impressed, stating: ''Everything you say, you have to be able to back it up. You can't waste time on statements just thrown in the air. Everything has to have evidence...I'm trying to make a point and I hope you get it."