H/T Harley for this 2010 NYT article.
When the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation decided in 1991 to take on Joe Camel, it became the nation’s largest private funding source for fighting smoking. The foundation spent $700 million to help knock the cartoon character out of advertisements, finance research and advocacy for higher cigarette taxes and smoke-free air laws and, ultimately, to aid in reducing the nation’s smoking rate almost by half.
But a few years ago, the Johnson foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., added another target to its mission, pledging to spend $500 million in five years to battle childhood obesity. As the antiobesity financing rose to $58 million last year, a new compilation from the foundation shows, the organization’s antismoking grants fell to $4 million.
The steep drop-off in private funds illustrates the competition under way for money as public health priorities shift. In the race for preventive health care dollars, from charities and from federal and state government sources, the tobacco warriors have become a big loser.
That’s great news for smokers. And a reason why the failure of California Proposition 29 earlier this year was probably a heavy blow for Stanton Glantz. Funds were drying up, and a new source of loot was needed.
But, oddly enough, 2004 was round about the time in the UK that Tobacco Control started muscling its way into Britain. That was the year I read that BMA President Sir Charles George had called for a smoking ban in public places.
Was there a connection? With funding from RWJF drying up, maybe the Tobacco Control Industry felt that it needed to diversify overseas, and find fresh pastures.
“Don’t forget tobacco,” pleaded a commentary this month in The New England Journal of Medicine.
One in five Americans still smokes.
But one in three is obese.
And competition for attention is growing between the two biggest issues in public health.
“I don’t see anybody else rushing into the vacuum,” says Dr. Steven A. Schroeder, former president of the Johnson foundation. “The sad thing is, smoking, despite all the harm it does, is left pretty much an orphan.”
In Britain they still got plenty of funding.
The decline in state funding to prevent smoking has distressed advocates. The 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between 46 states and cigarette companies provided more than $200 billion through 2025. For a while it financed preventive programs like the “Truth” media campaign from the antismoking group American Legacy Foundation. But as states used money elsewhere, “Truth” spending declined, to a low of $35 million last year from $104 million in 2000…
State funding for antitobacco programs dropped to $567 million last year, from $717 million two years earlier, a 21 percent cut, according to an advocacy groups’ report titled “A Broken Promise to Our Children.”
But if all this is good news for smokers, it’s probably very bad news for tubby people, who I imagine are now being demonised just like smokers.
Today I was wondering what that’s like for them. And I was thinking that, if you’re a smoker, you can become a ex-smoker overnight, or you can conceal your smoking habit. But fat people can’t do either. Because, try as some of them might (and I’ve heard these stories many times) it’s very hard to shed the pounds. For some it seems to be well nigh impossible. The ‘obese’ are now being reviled, and there’s not much many of them can do about it.
I’m as thin as a rake. And I can eat all I want, and I won’t put on any weight. I can buy a packet of chocolate chip cookies, and eat the whole lot in a single afternoon, and my weight won’t increase. But the experience of many people seems to be the opposite: if they eat just one or two such cookies, it appears on the scales the very next morning. All of which leads me to think that people’s weight isn’t as simple as calories converting into fat, or vice versa. More likely, how thin or fat people are (or how tall or strong) is probably the outcome of a whole host of factors. And there isn’t a ‘right’ size. Or maybe, the size you happen to be is the right size for you.
Which makes the war on obesity (where what is ‘obese’ has a completely arbitrary definition anyway) even more obscene than the war on smoking. And why organisations like RWJF, which seem to be serially targeting minorites of one sort or other, must be closed down. They’re a cancer on society. Also via Harley:
3 ways RWJF violates ethics if not legal business practices
1) Lobbying by a tax exempt organization
RWJF, a tax exempt organization, has provided $446+ million to organizations and urged them to advocate for policy changes (lobby). Even as HHS inspector general has declared grants by tax exempt organizations used for lobbying is illegal.
2) RWJF makes a profit from alternative nicotine products promoted by smoking ban lobbyists
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation owns nearly a billion of dollars in Johnson & Johnson stock, (see p 7 hyperlink) J & J manufactures or owns Nicoderm, Nicotrol,Nicorette, Commit, etc. drugs which RWJF openly promotes once/while smoking bans are enacted. Furthermore, RWJF was started by Johnson & Johnson founderRobert Wood Johnson, so the separation between RWJF and J & J is virtually non-existent.
3) Promotes idea that taxpayer funds (Medicare, Medicaid) should be used to pay for the alternative drugs that RWJF profits from
This pamphlet by RWJF lobbyist American Lung Association (see last page of brochure) promotes the use of alternative nicotine products manufactured or owned by Johnson & Johnson, which as explained above, increases RWJFs financial assets. (see also IRS investigation of RWJF)
I got an email today, with a whole bunch of links to RWJF stories (which I haven’t had time to check out).
Back in my teens, I didn’t much like to strip off on beaches and swimming pools because I thought people would think I was too thin (and kick sand in my face like in the Charles Atlas ads on the back of DC comics). I used to quite often skip visits to the pool solely because of that. My guess is that it’s probably much the same for fat people, in a converse sense. And maybe they don’t go to beaches or pools. Maybe they don’t go anywhere much. And with a mounting public campaign against obesity, maybe big people are just staying home more and more, much like smokers. And suffering much the same estrangement.
A couple of days back I wrote about my personal experience in the wake of the 2007 UK smoking ban. I’m never going to be able to do the same with any anti-obesity campaign. So today I thought I’d ask my ‘large size’ readers whether they’d be up to write a guest blog post about what it’s like to be living as a large-sized person in an anti-obesity environment. Send me an email, or drop a comment below.