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Judge Blocks Use Of Graphic Warning Labels On Cigarette Packages

Filed under: Legal MattersBarack ObamaHealthAddictionSmoking

Tobacco labels

Boo! Such a bummer!

We were SO happy to hear about the mandatory graphic warning labels that the FDA imposed for all tobacco companies to display on cigarette packages.

Unfortunately, we're sad to report that the tobacco industry may have successfully blocked the government's efforts to visually depict how damaging their product really is.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon blocked the federal requirement because he felt the pictures were not accurate portrayals of the effects from smoking and instead were designed to exploit the facts, explaining:

"It is abundantly clear from viewing these images that the emotional response they were crafted to induce is calculated to provoke the viewer to quit, or never to start smoking – an objective wholly apart from disseminating purely factual and uncontroversial information."

The images depicting the harmful effects of smoking were to cover at least 20% of the package, but Judge Leon felt the labels would amount to a "mini-billboard" for the agency's "obvious anti-smoking agenda."

The strict requirement, originally expected to be implemented next year, has now been blocked until the tobacco industry's lawsuit is resolved.

Basically, don't expect to see the controversial labels that are used in 43 other countries anytime soon in the US.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, urged the Obama administration to appeal the ruling, saying:

"Studies around the world and evidence presented to the FDA have repeatedly shown that large, graphic warnings, like those adopted by the FDA, are most effective at informing consumers about the health risks of smoking, discouraging children and other nonsmokers from starting to smoke, and motivating smokers to quit. Because of that evidence, at least 43 other countries now require large, graphic cigarette warnings."

It's such a shame that corporate greed has once again won in court. While the tobacco industry filed the lawsuit against the FDA's labels in an effort to save profits, the courts forgot that the labels were created to save lives.

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'Secret Shoppers' Testing Doctor's Offices For Government Study

Filed under: Health

Doctors office

Much like companies employ "secret shoppers" to rate their business practices and catch a glimpse of how their employees REALLY treat customers, the government is employing people to pose as potential patients to investigate how doctor offices in 9 states treat people with different types of insurance.

These fake patients will call the offices of 465 doctors in each state involved in the study to determine how the offices respond to potential patients with private insurance, medicaid, or "self-pay patients".

The process — which will begin in Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia in a few months — is described as follows:

Each office will be called at least twice — by a person who supposedly has private insurance and by someone who supposedly has public insurance. …

Eleven percent of the doctors will be called a third time. The callers will identify themselves as calling "on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services." They will ask whether the doctors accept private insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, and whether they take "self-pay patients." The study will note any discrepancies between those answers and the ones given to mystery shoppers.

Many practicing physicians are upset by the Obama administrations move, but the government insists the survey will shed light on the public health problem of primary care doctor shortages.

It doesn't seem like the secret inquiries into the types of insurance doctors accept is to invasive. Plus, if these doctors have nothing to hide, they should have nothing to worry about!

A federal health official has promised results of the survey will be strictly confidential with only collective information being released without any mention of specific offices.

[Image via AP Images.]

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Obama Administration Launches LGBT Website, Leaves Marriage Equality Out Again!

Filed under: Gay Gay GayPolitikBarack Obama

barack obama launches lgbt website

This is a positive step in many ways, but Obama STILL refuses to give the marriage equality issue the attention it needs!

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation for LGBT Pride Month, which tackled a bunch of important issues in the LGBT community, BUT he didn't mention marriage equality OR the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Now, Obama's administration has launched a website dedicated to the LGBT issues mentioned in his proclamation, but marriage equality is STILL not being addressed!

With regards to the marriage equality issue, Obama has said that "he is 'evolving' on and 'wrestling' with the issue."

Here's what White House press secretary Jay Carney has said about why Obama hasn't announced public support for marriage equality:

"The president has said in the past what his position is. It hasn’t changed. And if it changes, I’m sure he’ll let you all know."

We support the launch of the Obama administration's website, but if they're going to put this much effort into supporting the LGBT community, why not go all the way and back marriage equality as well? Think about it, Obama!

EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL!

[Image via WENN.]

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Immigrant In Same-Sex Marriage Gets Deportation Reprieve!

Absolutely wonderful news, and hopefully a taste of things to come!

On Friday, an immigration judge in Newark, NJ granted a suspension on deportation for a Venezuelan man, Henry Velandia, who is in a same-sex marriage with an American man, Josh Vandiver.

Judge Alberto J. Riefkohl postponed the deportation until at least December, in order to "allow time for the attorney general and the appeals court to work out whether a gay partner might be eligible under some circumstances for residency."

Given the fact that President Barack Obama called the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional back in February, it sounds like his administration could be getting onto the right path with regards to same-sex marriage issues.

We're very happy to hear this, and we truly hope that steps are taken to ensure that this married couple won't have to be apart come December.

EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL!

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