After abstaining for decades, many well known hard liquor labels are now returning to TV advertising. Until recently, booze advertising on TV was mainly dominated by beer, but TV viewers are gradually coming around to accepting liquor as well, despite the potential impact of these ads on children. Jagermeister, Captain Morgan, Ketel One and 1800 Tequila are some of the familiar brands who will soon be making their way to the small screen. "There has been no push-back," said Frank Coleman of the Distilled Spirits Council of the US. "So it's seen as an opportunity. If you're going to take beer ads, you're going to take spirit ads...A standard serving of beer, wine and spirits all contain the same amount of alcohol." Beam Inc.—one of the world’s largest spirits companies—increased it’s spending on small screen ads from 34 to 43 percent in one year alone, and also nailed down TV spots for Jim Beam, Devil's Cut, Red Stag, Maker's Mark, Pucker Vodka, and Hornitos Tequila. Former The Real Housewives of New York City star Bethany Frankel recently launched a huge TV ad campaign (titled "Drink Like a Lady") for her calorie conscious alcoholic beverage brand Skinnygirl, airing on networks such as Bravo, the Food Network, and HGTV. Gregg G. Raduka, director of prevention/intervention for the Council on Alcohol and Drugs, believes this surge in booze marketing could cause trouble for children and young adults. "In my mind we're so bombarded by alcohol advertising by various media avenues that anything that could reduce that bombardment would be positive," he said. While no federal laws have restricted liquor from television, it’s no secret that the ads do have an effect on children: back in March, a UK study found that more kids recognized Smirnoff vodka and Carlsberg beer than recognized Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
- Medical Marijuana Keeps On Truckin' Despite IRS [Forbes]
- Weight-Loss Surgery Reduces Desire For Alcohol [New Scientist]
- South Korean Smokers Finally Start Feeling the Heat [The Sun Daily]
- Propofol, Drug That Michael Jackson OD'd On, to be Used in Missouri Executions [CBS News]
- Girl of 13 in Vodka Binge "Out Of Control" [This is Cornwall]
- Police: Dad Left Pot In 6-Year-Old Son's Backpack [The Ledger]
- Outraged Ex-Bond Actor Calls Switch to Beer a "Sell-Out" [Denver Post]
New Zealand is ramping its war on smoking up to a whole new level with a tax hike that health officials openly hope will extinguish the habit by 2025. The strategy is to keep raising the price of cigs until people just can't or won't buy them anymore. Some officials wanted the price of a pack put up to as much as $48 NZD ($75 USD), but that was shelved in favor of a much more moderate, but still significant, hike to $9 NZD ($14 USD) by 2016. Stores must also now keep smokes behind counters, instead of on display. New Zealand's Cancer Society is unsurprisingly thrilled by the news, issuing a press release entitled “Thumbs Up!” But of course smokers are grumbling—one unhappy citizen concedes that it would be good for people to quit, but insists the high prices won't stop her. “It's quite ridiculous for the government to be concentrating on that,” she says. “They have bigger things to worry about.” Tobacco companies are also taking it badly, lashing out with claims that the legislation will drive smokers to the black market for cheap cigs: “Consumer demand is far better served by legitimate companies than by the illegal operators that will surely grow as the government makes it increasingly difficult for people to buy their product of choice,” writes Susan Jones, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at the New Zealand Branch of British American Tobacco. Right now, 20% of New Zealanders smoke, compared with 17% of Americans and 27% of people in France.
An illegal move by the Drug Enforcement Administration means a major drug smuggler will likely escape the long arm of the law. Robert Lee, a 49-year-old ex-convict transporting marijuana from Chicago, was pulled over on September 2, 2011 by Kentucky State Troopers for "driving without a seatbelt"—which constitutes probable cause. But the DEA had been following Lee with the help of a GPS tracking device they placed in his car—illegally. "In this case, the DEA agents had their fishing poles out to catch Lee," wrote Judge Amul Thapar, who is presiding over the case. "Admittedly, the agents did not intend to break the law. But, they installed a GPS device on Lee's car without a warrant in the hope that something might turn up." And something did—a whopping 150 pounds of marijuana were found in his vehicle by drug dogs. Lee's criminal record means he could have spent up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted. But since the evidence in the case was obtained without a warrant, it can not be used in the trial, meaning the case will likely be dismissed. "Unfortunately, my client will have to spend at least another month in custody," says Lee's attorney, possibly shrugging. "But, this turned out good for him."
Alcohol has played its part in many crimes. But in India, alcohol intake is a crime on its own—if you drink too much. Binge drinking, beer guzzling, or even downing a measly bottle of wine is a punishable offense under "The Bombay Protection Act," in effect since 1959, which limits how much booze you drink and buy; it also requires all drinkers to obtain a permit (any citizens of age are eligible). "The daily consumption and weekly purchase limit of alcohol is fixed. Anyone exceeding these limits can be punished under [the Act], even if they have a liquor permit," says Mohan Varde, superintendent of the state excise department, which monitors the country's substance use. Individuals are allowed two "units" of alcohol per day—that's 214.28 ml of hard liquor (less than five shots), or 1.14 litres (about two pints) of beer, max. For wine, the limit is 0.448 litres (about two-thirds of a bottle). "If people are to mix and match their alcohols, they can pick from the three categories. However, they can consume only a total of two units in a day. Anything beyond two units is punishable," added Varde. Those who exceed the limit face a fine, or up to six months in jail. The Bombay Prohibition Act also limits the amount of alcohol you can buy each week, so a keg party would be out of the question—and some in India's nightclub sector worry that the country's nightlife will be in trouble if cops decide to crack down.
If you've ever felt that telltale buzz, but when you checked your cellphone there was no text or missed call, you may be on the cusp of a mobile addiction. According to psychology professor Larry Rosen from California State University, these imagined cellphone vibrations are actually a fairly common phenomenon. In his new book, iDisorder, Rosen says we live in an age where every oddity is soon classified as some kind of mental ailment, so it's not surprising that people's affinities for their cellphones have reached the level of addiction. "Interacting with our technology can make us display signs and symptoms of everything ranging from depression to mania to narcissism to voyeurism - you name it," says Rosen. Coining the term 'cellphone vibration syndrome,' Rosen believes the phenomenon is related to anxiety. "Our body is always in waiting to anticipate any kind of technological interaction, which usually comes from a smartphone," he says. "With that anticipatory anxiety, if we get any neurological stimulation, our pants rubbing against our leg for example, you might interpret that through the veil of anxiety, as 'Oh, my phone is vibrating." Rosen explains he's never met a person—particularly males as most men carry their phones in their pockets—that has not experienced a phantom cellphone vibration. He says phantom vibrations become a cause for concern when they begin to interfere with other parts of people lives: "Most of the people will report that what it does is it gets in the way of their social relationships, because they are constantly focusing on reducing the anxiety about what they're missing out on their phone."