Inside Opinion

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Tag: FDA


Smokers should get graphic warnings of their risks

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

It’s one of the most addictive and lethal drugs that humans abuse, killing far more Americans every year – 440,000-plus – than all illegal drugs combined.

Tobacco – specifically in its most popular delivery system, cigarettes – also plays a major role in rising health costs. Lawmakers and health officials know they can’t outlaw tobacco; about 20 percent of American adults are addicted to it. So they’re trying to do the next best thing: Prevent as many young people from getting hooked and persuade as many smokers as they can to stop.

The best way to do that is to make cigarettes expensive; smoking rates drop a little every time cigarette taxes go up. But another strategy has been found effective in more than 20 countries: graphic health warnings on cigarette packages – ones so big, colorful and disturbing that smokers can’t miss them. Read more »


Pot versus medicinal cannabinoids: A big difference

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

If only the question of “medical marijuana” were as simple as Gov. Chris Gregoire makes it sound.

She and Gov. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island petitioned the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Wednesday to knock marijuana down from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug. Her press release said the move “will allow its use for treatment – prescribed by doctors and filled by pharmacists.”

Not quite. Before drugs can be legally prescribed, they must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which must first determine that they are both effective and safe. Moving marijuana to Schedule 2 would make research easier, but it won’t put the plant into pharmacies without the FDA’s approval.
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Smoking deaths are ugly; cigarette labels should be, too

One of the Food and Drug Administration’s proposed new cigarette warning labels depicts a cancer victim smoking through a tracheostomy tube in his throat. (FDA)

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

It’s all too easy for smokers to ignore the Surgeon General’s small “hazardous to your health” warning on cigarette packs. That won’t be the case much longer.

Under new Food and Drug Administration rules scheduled to go into effect in 2012, graphic color photos and drawings depicting the negative consequences of smoking will take up half of the front and back of each pack as well as 20 percent of cigarette advertising.

Anyone who’s bought cigarettes in Canada or one of 30 other countries won’t be startled by the more in-your-face warnings; they’ve been required there for years. While some of the FDA’s warning images are strong, they’re not nearly as cringe-inducing as many of the ones required on foreign labels.

Research in other countries supports the effectiveness of strong warning labels in getting smokers to consider quitting. Read more »


Massive egg recall should spur food-safety reforms

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Washington consumers should take little comfort from the fact that the salmonella-tainted eggs subject to a massive recall weren’t sold in this state. Shoppers here will surely feel the pain anyway, even if it isn’t of a gastrointestinal nature.

With more than half a billion eggs removed from the market, those that are left will cost more – perhaps 40 percent more. And the higher cost of eggs is expected to drive up the cost of food items that use eggs, such as baked goods and mayonnaise.

But the main reason consumers should feel discomfort is that the recall once again reveals a serious deficiency in government’s ability to protect the nation’s food supply. We saw it before, when recalls of tainted tomatoes, peanuts, spinach or hamburger highlighted the lack of muscle and manpower in the agencies charged with regulating food safety.

In the egg recall case, which now has been linked to contaminated chicken feed, the government could require that all egg-producing hens be vaccinated against salmonella. That’s what’s done in England, and that country has virtually eliminated salmonella in eggs as a health threat. Read more »


FDA should get tough on indoor tanning

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

It’s a shame that state Rep. Jeannie Darneille’s bill to regulate and restrict the indoor tanning industry didn’t get very far in this year’s legislative session.

Her bill would have required that indoor tanning businesses be licensed and inspected as they are in most other states – and as other personal care businesses such as hair salons already are in Washington. Most importantly, it would have banned the use of indoor tanning beds by anyone under 18 without a doctor’s prescription.

That last provision was especially important, because experts say indoor tanning is the main reason doctors are seeing more advanced cases of potentially deadly melanoma in younger and younger victims – and mostly in women because they’re more likely to use tanning beds. Cancers that dermatologists once saw mostly in old men are now showing up in twentysomethings and even teenagers.
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