Clear The Air News Tobacco Blog Rotating Header Image

June 14th, 2012:

Michigan Mayor Janice Daniels Compares Being Gay To Smoking

by David Badash on June 14, 20

Not The First Time Troy, Michigan Mayor Has Attacked The Gay Community

Janice Daniels, the embattled Troy, Michigan mayor, on a local radio program yesterday said homosexuality was dangerous and compared homosexuality to cigarette smoking. Daniels, whose short tenure as mayor has been marked by comments she made on Facebook against gay people, has attempted to defend her comments and her extreme anti-gay positions, and continually seems to make matters worse, not better. Unsurprisingly, the unrepentant Daniels is facing a recall election.

Wednesday, Daniels told Charlie Langton of Talk Radio 1270 that the comments which initially began the firestorm against her were made before she was mayor and therefore, Daniels insists, shouldn’t count. The comments were not discovered until after she was elected.

CBS Detroit reports yesterday’s conversation:

“What I said while I was mayor … I was in a business meeting, I come from a business perspective … I said that I would bring a doctor into a meeting that would say that the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous,” Daniels said, adding,”Had I been with a group of smokers I might have said I would like to bring a doctor into this meeting to say that smoking is dangerous.”

Is it dangerous to be gay? Langton asked.

“I think that doctors can make a case for it certainly,” the mayor said, adding that she “had no opinion” on whether being gay is more dangerous than smoking.

“I don’t think this is productive for the city of Troy… This is just a diversion,” Daniels told Langton. “I would ask that these people come together with me to find mutual common ground.”

Langton asked if she had an issue being the mayor of Troy, a place that includes gay people.

“I realize that I am the mayor of all the people of Troy and I love all people … It was a pithy comment that I made, it was an in-the-moment kind of comment and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to bring this kind of controversy upon myself.”

Daniels, who works in real estate when she’s not fulfilling mayoral duties, added:

“I am refinancing a home mortgage for a man who I would suspect could potentially be homosexual and we get along famously … In fact he brought papers into the office the other day and we actually grabbed each other’s arms and kind of stood together in solidarity because we’re refinancing his home loan …”

In January, Daniels wanted to bring psychologists with her to a high school gay-straight alliance forum to testify that homosexuality is a mental disease. The students withdrew the invitation and Daniels never stated that she actually had any psychologists who would deliver false testimony.

Customs swoops on illicit cigarette smuggling syndicates in Man Kam To and Lok Ma Chau

Hong Kong (HKSAR) – Hong Kong Customs yesterday (June 13) and today (June 14) swooped on two illicit cigarette smuggling syndicates in Man Kam To and Lok Ma Chau Control Points respectively. On board two cross-boundary lorries, a total of 240 boxes containing 1.75 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarette were found. The total value is about $4.4 million with a duty potential of $3 million. In the operations, five men aged 28 to 45 were arrested and three lorries used in smuggling and distribution of illicit cigarettes were seized.

At about 9.20pm yesterday, Customs officers at Man Kam To Control Point intercepted a vehicle loaded with goods which declared to contain “fresh fruit”.

Upon x-ray examination, 450,000 sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes were found concealed inside 106 cartons of fresh fruit. The driver was arrested immediately.

At about 9am today, Customs officers at Lok Ma Chau Control Point intercepted a logistics lorry. Upon X-ray examination, 1.3 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes were found while the driver and three more men were arrested.

In the above cases, cigarettes of various brands, which had been sorted and packed, could be speedily delivered for sale. Customs believes that the illicit cigarette syndicates continues to manipulate the “swift distribution” mode with an attempt to lessen the risk of being detected.

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in dealing with, possession, selling and buying illicit cigarettes commits an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for two years and a fine of $1 million.

Customs will continue to take stringent enforcement against cigarette smuggling activities to protect government revenue.

Members of the public are urged to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs’ 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Source: HKSAR Government


Council fired up for 2013 smoking ban

Illawarra Mercury – 20 hours ago

Wollongong councillors are hoping to start 2013 with a healthy New Year’s resolution – a ban on smoking in alfresco dining areas in Crown St 

Diesel fumes as bad as passive smoking

The Canberra Times – 1 day ago

”It’s on the same order of magnitude as passive smoking,” said Kurt Straif, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), 

Diesel exhaust fumes pose cancer risk just like passive smoking ‎ Rush Lane
Diesel fumes cause cancer: World Health Organization; ‘On the ‎ New York Daily News
Diesel fumes deemed as cancerous as asbestos and passive smoking‎ Scotsman
Business Standard– New Zealand Herald
all 440 news articles »

Councillors butt heads on smoking

Northern Star – 9 hours ago

THE lack of proposed designated smoking areas in Lismore’s city centre is concerning business owners who employ smokers.

Smoke-free CBD policy‎ Northern Rivers Echo
all 2 news articles »

Smoke gets in your eyes

Vancouver Sun – 12 hours ago

If there weren’t already compelling enough reasons for you to quit smoking, think about the risk.

Smoking can cause blindness‎ Sacramento Bee
all 8 news articles »

SUNY trustees seek smoking ban

Newsday – 16 hours ago

State University of New York trustees want tobacco banned on all 64 campuses.

SUNY trustees approve ban on smoking‎ Albany Times Union
SUNY trustees request system-wide campus smoking ban‎
SUNY votes to ban smoking across college system‎ Hornell Evening Tribune
CBS Local– NY1
all 44 news articles »

More than 60% of Israel’s nonsmokers smoke passively, study finds

Haaretz – 12 hours ago

While only about 20 percent of Israel’s adult population smokes cigarettes, passivesmokers are equally exposed to the risks of developing cancer, the study 

Detroit Medical Center will not hire smokers, plans to test applicants 

Detroit Free Press – 16 hours ago

While several states have passed laws banning such hiring policies, Michigan has not, leaving smokers without legal grounds to challenge 

Detroit Medical Center will no longer hire smokers as of July 1‎ The Detroit News

Trade pact could weaken Australia’s tobacco fight

Description: One example of the 'ugly' cigarette packet packaging unveiled by the Federal Government

Photo: Ukraine and Honduras contend the planned packaging laws unfairly restrict trade. (Supplied)

Related Story: Plain packaging hearing wraps up in High Court

Related Story: NZ set to follow Australia’s lead on plain packaging

Map: Australia

There are concerns a new trade agreement between the US, Australia and several other Pacific nations could weaken Australia’s defences against challenges to its planned tobacco packaging laws.

Australia looks set to be hit with a third complaint at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) about its planned tobacco packaging laws.

British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris have launched High Court challenges against the Australian legislation, which would force them to use drab packaging with disturbing images of the health impacts of smoking.

Ukraine and Honduras have already launched trade disputes over the issue, and there are reports the Dominican Republic is about to join the complaint.

None of those three countries has a significant share of the Australian tobacco market, but they contend the planned laws unfairly restrict trade.

The head of the Federal Health Department, Jane Halton, says the tobacco companies are providing legal advice to WTO members to encourage them to take action against Australia.

She spoke about it in a video message for the World Health Organisation.

“All of these actions are designed to try to intimidate the Australian Government and Australian officials to actually ask us to relent in our efforts to protect the public health of our citizens,” she said.

Associate Professor Andrew Mitchell, from the University of Melbourne Law School, says big tobacco is concerned that if Australia is allowed to introduce new restrictions on tobacco advertising, other countries that have more lucrative markets will follow.

“And also, by using other countries as a proxy, it creates the appearance that plain packaging is opposed by entities other than just big tobacco,” he said.

Professor Mitchell’s colleague, Associate Professor Tanya Voon, says the WTO challenge is likely to slow down any knock-on effect the Australian initiative may have.

Audio: Trade deal may blunt tobacco fight(PM)

“They can have a chilling effect because of the time taken and the resources spent in defending the challenge,” she said.

“And that’s true regardless really of whether the challenges have a legal basis and whether they succeed or not.”

Dr Matthew Rimmer, associate professor in intellectual property at the Australian National University, says this challenge is unlikely to succeed.

“The Ukraine would have more chance of winning the UEFA Cup football competition then they would of winning this WTA action,” he said.

But he says Australia needs to ensure its plain packaging regime is not vulnerable to challenge under the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been going on behind closed doors for more than two years.

Today, a key chapter was leaked, showing Australia has refused to agree to a system of tribunals which would be used by private companies to sue governments for breaches of trade conditions.

Australia’s objection to investor-state dispute settlement provisions is already on the public record.

In the WTO case, Australia also has a public health defence, but Dr Rimmer is worried the Trans-Pacific Partnership will not leave any room for one.

“There’s a concern that a very expansive intellectual property chapter in the Trans-Pacific Partnership might help tobacco companies,” he said.

“There is a concern about the regime limiting the array of tobacco control measures that could be taken by a member of the partnership.

“I guess the problem is further complicated by the fact that the negotiations are being held in secret.”

The Federal Government has vowed to defeat the current challenge at the WTO.

A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Nicola Roxon says the measures are not anti-trade, they are anti-cancer

Why work with Big Tobacco?

14 June 2012


Big Tobacco’s desperate efforts to oppose the introduction of tobacco plain packaging have been supported by a potpourri of consulting, legal, advertising, public relations and lobbying organisations.

Consulting groups, lawyers and lobbyists are free to choose their clients, and it is still legal to sell tobacco products to adults (even though many retailers knowingly break the law prohibiting sales to children). But legal or not, the question remains: why, in 2012, would anybody want to work for or with the tobacco industry?

When I was first involved in tobacco control 40 years ago, the people leading tobacco companies had started their careers long before the dangers of smoking were identified or publicised. They took some wrong decisions early, setting the industry off on a long road of denying evidence, opposing effective action, promoting their lethal products wherever they could, and in my case offering to set me up handsomely to work on some other campaign. At least one could understand their approach, however misguided.

2012 is different. The overwhelming evidence about the dangers of smoking has been known and widely publicised for more than sixty years, confirmed over and again by evidence of the role cigarettes play in a galaxy of lethal and painful conditions. We know – as does anyone working for and with the industry – that cigarettes are the only commercial product that kills one in two of its regular users when consumed precisely as intended, and that passive smoking is a major cause of death and disease.

As long ago as 1967 the late Senator Robert Kennedy said, “the tobacco industry is peddling a deadly weapon. They are dealing in people’s lives for financial gain”.

The tobacco industry is more than lethal. It has been exposed over the years as dishonest and manipulative. Once-confidential industry internal documents show in fine detail that the major companies have been guilty of everything their most cynical critics suspect – and more.

They have lied and deceived. They have been found guilty in the United States of racketeering. In Australia, the main tobacco industry association even paid for people to go through the garbage of anti-smoking organizations.


Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco finishes rock bottom in global surveys of industry credibility.

Tobacco companies still market their products in developing countries in ways that would be unthinkable now in countries such as Australia. They promote to the vulnerable, just as once they targeted the youth market here.

In developed countries, they are mainly reduced to working in the shadowy half-light of lobbying and public relations. When they surface, as in their current desperate and misleading campaigns against plain packaging, they open themselves up to yet more cynicism and ridicule.

They cannot resist “dirty tricks” campaigns. They establish and fund front organisations. They pay consulting groups to produce substandard or one-sided reports that they then use for lobbying purposes. They use loopholes in the tobacco advertising ban legislation to run “political” media campaigns.

So why would anybody want to work with companies where success will result in more lung cancers, more heart disease, more respiratory disease, more suffering, more premature deaths? Who would want to work for a disreputable industry where even the suggestion of a “dirty tricks” campaign has instant plausibility?

Why would spokespeople and lobbyists for the companies want to expose themselves publicly as peddlers of Australia’s most lethal drug? How do people whose job is to ensure maximum possible cigarette sales sleep at night, knowing that so many of their consumers are suffering and dying? How do they tell their children and families that they work for companies long described as “merchants of death”?

Even if tobacco industry executives can close their eyes to the deaths for which they are responsible, why would large and respectable consulting groups, advertising agencies, legal firms, or even public relations and lobbying companies, which presumably can choose their clients, agree to act as hired guns for this pariah industry? Why do they not take the approach recommended by the World Health Organization and adopted by universities and other research groups and have nothing to do with the tobacco industry – no matter how much money is offered?

aaedf faa b/Flickr

It is true that cigarettes are a legally sold product – albeit so harmful that parliaments around the country have decreed that they may not be sold to minors. But that is a historical accident: if they were a new product, they would not be would be allowed on the market.

There is a long-standing and worthy legal tradition that any client – no matter how evil – is entitled to a defence. There is no such noble tradition or rationale for consulting firms, advertising, public relations and lobbying companies, or even lawyers who advise on means of circumventing legislation and putting pressure on health groups.

Anyone who now works for and with the tobacco industry knows beyond a shadow of doubt that their work will result in unnecessary death and disease.

That is clearly not a concern for tobacco company executives, who know that they are in the business of peddling a lethal drug. But the outcomes of the work done by otherwise respectable consulting, advertising, public relations, lobbying and legal companies that work for Big Tobacco are no different. They should take policy decisions to eschew this evil business.

Failing such a decision, when their executives go to sleep at night they should spare a thought for the suffering, death and disease they are helping to promote. They too are, in Robert Kennedy’s words, dealing in people’s lives for financial gain. Is it really worth the money?

Related articles

24 May 2012 Why petrol bowsers deserve the same treatment as cigarette packs20 April 2012 Big Tobacco’s box fetish: plain packaging at the high court29 February 2012 Trade agreement threatens Australia’s tobacco and medicine policies30 January 2012 Chew on this, smokers: nicotine replacement therapies rarely work