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Hands Off My Fresca:

William Saletan on the new paternalism:

Weisberg put his finger on the underlying trend: "Because Democrats hold power at the moment, they face the greater peril of paternalistic overreaching." Today's morality cops are less interested in your bedroom than your refrigerator. They're more likely to berate you for outdoor smoking than for outdoor necking. It isn't God who hates fags. It's Michael Bloomberg.

In [Daniel] Engber's case [see here], the provocation is scientific. To justify taxes on unhealthy food, the lifestyle regulators are stretching the evidence about obesity and addiction, two subjects on which Engber is burdened with contrary knowledge. Liberals like to talk about a Republican war on science, but it turns out that they're just as willing to bend facts. In wars of piety, science has no friends.

This sort of paternalism actually isn't so new, but it's a good thing folks like Saletan are beginning to take notice.

ruuffles (mail) (www):

They're more likely to berate you for outdoor smoking than for outdoor necking.

You can't contract mono through the air.
9.23.2009 9:04am
Widmerpool:
First they came for the cigarettes, and I did not speak out--because I was not a smoker; Then they came for the snack chips, and I did not speak out--because I was not a couch potato; Then they came for the steak, and I did not speak out--because I was not a meat-eater; Then they came for the organic soybeans locally grown and harvested two blocks over and sold door-to-door via bicycle--and there was nothing left to eat.

Dost thou think because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?
9.23.2009 9:07am
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

Dost thou think because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

I dunno, but I was pretty virtuous for a long time, and now there's no Steak and Ale.
9.23.2009 9:09am
ruuffles (mail) (www):

First they came for the cigarettes, and I did not speak out--because I was not a smoker;

This is quite possibility the most ridiculous argument ever. There is no regulation of smoking in private places, ie your home. Only in public, where others contact your second hand smoke.
9.23.2009 9:10am
gasman (mail):


First they came for the cigarettes, and I did not speak out--because I was not a smoker;

This is quite possibility the most ridiculous argument ever. There is no regulation of smoking in private places, ie your home. Only in public, where others contact your second hand smoke.


Hmm... pretty serious argument actually. Liberal nannies want public space to be wherever the victims/children are, and if that's your home then all the better.

When smokers themselves became the proverbial dead horse, second hand smoke was invented. Once that topic promoted as many as possible to tenured positions, it was necessary to invent third hand smoke..

Seeing the endless research possibilities, let me be the first to jump on fourth hand smoking.
9.23.2009 9:18am
Refreshing:
Fresca is diet, so I question the headline. I don't think anyone's coming after the Fresca.
9.23.2009 9:20am
Steve:
Once that topic promoted as many as possible to tenured positions, it was necessary to invent third hand smoke..

I assume "invent" in this context means that scientists conducted a peer-reviewed study, and you don't like the results.

Feel free to demonstrate a problem with the study if you like. Otherwise this is sheer know-nothingism.
9.23.2009 9:25am
Widmerpool:
Ruuffles--is your sense of humor surgically removed when you start working for the Obama administration or do you just take medication to suppress it? Oh, and you might want to report this comment to your bosses as "fishy."
9.23.2009 9:30am
zuch (mail) (www):
Engber [from the Slate article]:
"I don't mean to imply that any such regulation is unjust. We have laws against plenty of chemicals and behaviors that are as delightful as they are destructive. These are, for the most part, sensible measures to protect our health. What's disturbing is the thought that the degree of government control should vary according to who's using which drug. In April, the Obama administration called for an end to a long-standing policy that gives dealers of powdered cocaine 100 times more leeway than dealers of crack when it comes to federal prison sentences. Let's not repeat this drug-war injustice in the war on obesity."
I'm n ot sure he's saying the exact same thing as you are, Prof. Adler.

Just for the record, I'd point out that taxing behaviour (or items associated with behaviour) is different than making behaviour illegal, as well. Booze has been levied since time immemorial, it seems. But banned just once (here) ... to poor result.

Cheers,
9.23.2009 9:30am
zuch (mail) (www):
... and here's Engber's critique of Obama's claim that we'd save health care money if we could bring down obesity rates:
Engber [from another Slate article]: "It's true that if you compare two people of the same age and wealth, one slim and the other obese, you can expect the fatter one to have more chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. The fatter patient will also make more visits to the doctor, buy more prescription drugs, and otherwise ring up higher medical bills in a given year.

But this analytical approach—used routinely by Finkelstein and other obesity number crunchers—ignores one important fact: Obese people have shorter life spans.
IC. Just let them kill themselves early, and it's a wash, eh?

You'd think that these two facts, taken together, might argue even more strongly for efforts to reduce obesity. Hell, let's hand out loaded pistols to 5-year-olds. Think of the money to be saved in education.

Cheers,
9.23.2009 9:37am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
Refreshing --

Read Saletan's whole article. He cites folks raising the issue of taxing diet sodas along with sugared sodas.

zuch --

Saletan references Engber to support the proposition that liberal paternalists are prone to exaggerating the scientific basis for their preferred policies, much like conservative paternalists are. As for the cocaine example, this was a welcome policy change.

JHA
9.23.2009 9:40am
dearieme:
"wars of piety" is rather fine. Anyway, I understand that diet sodas are a major "risk factor" for obesity, so it seems reasonable to tax them, ahem, heavily.
9.23.2009 9:48am
Prof. S. (mail):
I've said for a long time that following a "green" lifestyle is often analogous to a strong christian's "success in the Lord." Both try to live as pure and close to perfect as they can, looking down or bragging to those who don't meet their levels. Both also follow assume the virtue of their goals, notwithstanding any evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, both presume that any given outcome is evidence that their respective goal is the root cause of that outcome.

For example, yesterday's Marketplace (which I think is usually centrist, if not a touch right leaning at times) from American Public Media started out by noting that there was severe rain in Georgia and excessive snow in Denver - and then asked "is anybody read to discuss global warming?"

Yes, read that again, it was noting that there was <b>snow</b> this early in the season in suggesting we need a conversation on global warming. If that is the case, what isn't evidence for global warming? Just one example (and hopefully will not derail the thread), but it illustrates the point.
9.23.2009 9:51am
Dudeman (mail):

In April, the Obama administration called for an end to a long-standing policy that gives dealers of powdered cocaine 100 times more leeway than dealers of crack when it comes to federal prison sentences.



The crack/powder sentencing disparity was addressed in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Kimbrough (judges have the authority to sentence individuals below the recommended federal sentencing guideline recommendation in crack cocaine cases.) Also, the U.S. Sentencing Commission proffered an amendment, which was unopposed by Congress and went into effect on Nov. 1, 2007, to lower guideline sentence recommendations by two levels, saving defendants approximately 16 months of prison time. The USSC then voted to make this amendment reducing recommended sentences for crack cocaine offenses retroactive, saving individuals 27 months of prison-time on average.
9.23.2009 9:55am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"This is quite possibility the most ridiculous argument ever. There is no regulation of smoking in private places, ie your home. Only in public, where others contact your second hand smoke."

"By Emily Bazar, USA TODAY

Tenants in some public housing complexes can no longer light up in the one place that seemed safe from smoking bans: their own homes..."

link
9.23.2009 9:57am
zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Adler:

Your third link to Engber's articles has nothing to do with the subject at hand. While I agree that Engber's correct in saying that fMRI is over-hyp[othalamuse]ed (so to speak), and that talk of "centres" in the brain is just as ridiculous and simplistic now as it was thirty years ago -- when I criticised ablation, stimulation, and self-stimulation studies that were isolating "centres" for various behaviours and feelings as being like modern-day phrenology -- it has nothing to do with "obesity and addiction".

Cheers,
9.23.2009 9:59am
M (mail):
Odd that he says this is a problem because the Democrats are in power and then cites something proposed not by Congress but by the Bloomberg administration, since of course congress has nothing to do with that and Bloomberg isn't a Democrat. Saleten is, in general, a bit dumb, though, so this doesn't surprise me.
9.23.2009 10:02am
Uh_Clem (mail):
From the Emily Bazar USA TODAY article above:

"Such policies are not unusual in private dwellings. The trend has accelerated in government-subsidized rentals in the past year."

So, it's common for private landlords to stipulate no smoking policies in their dwellings. What's new is that the government is following the lead of the private sector - Since units occupied by smokers cost twice as much to prep for the next tennent, banning smoking can be justified as a business decision, similar to a "no pets" policy.

What's not for conservatives to like here?
9.23.2009 10:07am
gasman (mail):

I assume "invent" in this context means that scientists conducted a peer-reviewed study, and you don't like the results.

No Steve, I was commenting on the diminishing returns of pursuing this topic to the Nth degree. The peer reviewed articles may (or may not) be flawless; it is the whole avenue of persistent research that seems to have little necessity in terms of advancing the public health using public dollars for the research.
I've followed the academic parade of articles documenting the health effects of smoking since the publication of the Surgeon General's report of 1964. After a while articles eventually cease to illuminate anything new, but continue to be published because that is what academics do. And repetition was to some degree needed to get the message across in the face of contrary messages from commercial interests. But after a while repetition risks being counterproductive as we have to look harder and harder to find less significant boogeymen. Anti-tobacco research is easy money and easy publication; I too have am guilty of taking a perfectly respectable study of my own on respiratory complications in surgery and tacked on a second hand tobacco analysis; two pubs for the price of one.
9.23.2009 10:12am
Philistine (mail):
@Dudeman

There are still mandatory minimums with the 100:1 disparity (e.g. 5 grams of crack is a 5 year mandatory minimum, while it takes 500 grams of cocaine for a 5 year minimum).

Mandatory minimums are not effected by Kimbrough or the guidelines.
9.23.2009 10:13am
geokstr (mail):

M:
...Bloomberg isn't a Democrat.

He's "not a Democrat" for the exact same reason Specter wasn't a Democrat when he was first elected. Bloomberg was a lifelong Democrat who switched parties just before his election because it was favorable to him to do so. His political positions are Democrat all the way and have not changed now that he claims to be a Republican.
9.23.2009 10:15am
Uh_Clem (mail):
Prof S: Yes, read that again, it was noting that there was snow this early in the season in suggesting we need a conversation on global warming. If that is the case, what isn't evidence for global warming?

The more precise phrase is Global Climate Change, which (according to the models) says that an increase in average temperatures may cause large changes in weather patterns - some areas will become warmer, some will become wetter, some drier, some colder, and some will be under water.

So, yes, unusual snowfall patterns may be an indicator. Or the early snow this year may just be a fluke. One can't take one data point out of context and use it to justify or dismiss the theory.
9.23.2009 10:25am
Jonathan H. Adler (mail) (www):
zuch --

The links in the blockquote are Saletan's not mine. I simply reproduced them as part of the quoted passage.

JHA
9.23.2009 10:28am
Steve:
No Steve, I was commenting on the diminishing returns of pursuing this topic to the Nth degree.

Well, as far as I know, no one is proposing legislation related to "thirdhand smoke." I'm glad the research is being done, though. Some people may choose to voluntarily alter their behavior.
9.23.2009 10:37am
RichW (mail):
ruuffles, Daniel beat me to it but in addition smoking has been used in divorce cases genera; link: linka and
linkb

The government is much more willing to get involved in a way that would be unthinkable a few yaers ago
9.23.2009 10:43am
DennisN (mail):
This country has been plagued with Puritans since its inception. Oz got the better deal - they got the criminals. The religious ones have gone out of fashion. The same vile people are now trying to stigmatize our personal health habits. They're trying to save us from Hell an early grave.

I'm an anti smoker, but the Nazis Puritans are enough to make me want to take up cheap cigars and flick the smoldering butts in their faces.
9.23.2009 10:49am
The Unbeliever:
So, it's common for private landlords to stipulate no smoking policies in their dwellings. What's new is that the government is following the lead of the private sector...

What's not for conservatives to like here?
Fun game, can anybody play?

It's common for private organizations to ban certain kinds of speech and expression on private property, to restrict freedom of association, and to use broad, arbitrary personal discretion whether to eject or deny service to any individual.

Suppose a government were to act similarly on public lands, roads, or government buildings. A-OK with you as well, if they can show a decent cost-benefit analysis (public good/enjoyment vs individual rights)?

Or maybe, just maybe, is there an important distinction to be made between private individuals and the government when exercising economic force, exclusions, and bans?
9.23.2009 10:54am
M (mail):
geokstr- Bloomberg isn't a Republican now, either. He's an "independent". He'll face opposition from a Democrat in the election. But even if he was a Democrat, his policies would have nothing at all to do with Democrats controlling congress now, so Saleten's invocation of him would still be dumb. Given that he's in fact not a Democrat, it's even dumber.
9.23.2009 10:55am
einhverfr (mail) (www):
I thought the title was kind of funny in relation to this:

It isn't God who hates fags. It's Michael Bloomberg.

In [Daniel] Engber's case [see here], the provocation is scientific. To justify taxes on unhealthy food, the lifestyle regulators are stretching the evidence about obesity and addiction, two subjects on which Engber is burdened with contrary knowledge.[emphasis added]


So are we talking about Fresca(R) soft drinks? Or "fresca" as Latin American slang for "lesbian?"
9.23.2009 10:56am
ShelbyC:

This is quite possibility the most ridiculous argument ever. There is no regulation of smoking in private places, ie your home. Only in public, where others contact your second hand smoke.


Uh, aren't resturants and bars privately owned, or has Obama nationalized them too now. Just because the owner lets you in doesn't make a place "public".
9.23.2009 11:06am
M (mail):
Another funny thing about Saleten writing this sort of stuff is that he very often bases his policy recommendations around what he, William Saleten, finds yucky. (See his "arguments" about abortion, for example.) If you read him regularly (and I don't recommend it!) you can see that his position is basically that people ought to be allowed to do what he, William Saleten, thinks they should. What's wrong here is that someone else is making the choice, not that it's paternalistic. He's really not a very serious thinker.
9.23.2009 11:11am
zuch (mail) (www):
Prof. Adler:
The links in the blockquote are Saletan's not mine. I simply reproduced them as part of the quoted passage.
Fair 'nuff. My apologies for assuming they were yours originally, and not just cut'n'pasted. The point still stands, even if it was Saletan that was being careless. Is it fair to point out that the criticism was not correct in this regard (particularly when I agree with many of the conclusions of the irrelevant quote?)

Cheers,
9.23.2009 11:12am
Uh_Clem (mail):
Unbeliever: It's common for private organizations to ban certain kinds of speech and expression on private property, to restrict freedom of association...
Suppose a government were to act similarly on public lands, roads, or government buildings. A-OK with you as well, if they can show a decent cost-benefit analysis



Last time I looked Smoking was not an enumerated right under the constitution, like your other examples. Perhaps one could argue for including it as a right under the "penumbra" of the ninth ammendment. Feel free to pick up the argument from here...
9.23.2009 11:36am
DennisN (mail):
Uh_Clem:

Last time I looked Smoking was not an enumerated right under the constitution,


Neither is breathing.
9.23.2009 11:53am
DennisN (mail):
Uh_Clem:

Last time I looked Smoking was not an enumerated right under the constitution,


Neither is breathing.
9.23.2009 11:53am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I didn't mean to endorse or oppose the outlaw of smoking in public housing. Honestly, I think if you're on the public dole, you can put up with pretty much whatever We the People say you'll put up with. I just did a 2 second google search to refute the guy who said it was "the most ridiculous argument ever" that the government would move to prohibit smoking in a person's home.

If I had noticed that it was ruffles, I wouldn't have bothered, though.
9.23.2009 12:02pm
ray_g:
Back when the state's attorneys general were banding together to go after the tobacco companies, I said in all seriousness that the result of that suit could indicate the future of freedom in the U.S., and if the tobacco companies lost it would be a bad thing for freedom. Most responses were "yeah, yeah, slippery slope, blah blah".

Well, since then we have had serious proposals for a similar suit against fast food, )quoting an activist "let's treat Big Food like Big Tobacco"), trans-fat bans, bans on smoking in your own car if a child is in it, many proposed taxes on so-called "junk food", etc.

I was right, and I wish I wasn't.

Now, add this, from the NEJM article: "Because of the contribution of the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to obesity, as well as the health consequences that are independent of weight, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages generates excess health care costs. "

If the federal government gets heavily involved in health care, I predict that this type of reasoning will be used to justify onerous regulations, high taxes, or even bans on many things, not just food items.

IMO, this is the most important reason to oppose health care reform, to prevent "controlling health care costs" to become the new "for the children".
9.23.2009 12:14pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Zuch:


Engber [from another Slate article]: "It's true that if you compare two people of the same age and wealth, one slim and the other obese, you can expect the fatter one to have more chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. The fatter patient will also make more visits to the doctor, buy more prescription drugs, and otherwise ring up higher medical bills in a given year.


Actually, this is not true. If you compare groups of people, one of which is comprised of obese people and one of non-obese, you probably will find a higher incidence of diabetes, etc., in the obese group. But if you start with two individuals and the only thing you know about them is that one is obese and one isn't, you don't know a thing about their relative health.
9.23.2009 12:34pm
PlugInMonster:
Can we tax rich,thin white people who look down their noses at the rest of us? Lay your goddamn hands off my cheese whiz.
9.23.2009 12:44pm
Fred the Fourth (mail):
"This is quite possibility the most ridiculous argument ever. There is no regulation of smoking in private places, ie your home. Only in public, where others contact your second hand smoke."

Au contraire, mon frere.

Here in the sunny California city of Belmont (south of SF in the middle of the peninsula) the City passed an ordinance banning smoking in apartments in multi-unit buildings, on the grounds that smoke might penetrate other units. The landlords were not given any choice in the matter.
Google URL: belmont ca smoking in apartments
9.23.2009 1:23pm
Nunzio:
The taxes on cigarettes are out of control. The governments (local, state, fed) don't want to ban cigarettes because the tax revenue is so great. If they were into health, as they claim, then they'd ban them. They just want the money and and are taking out their policies on poorer people addicted to a highly-inelastic good.
9.23.2009 1:32pm
zuch (mail) (www):
Laura(southernxyl):
But if you start with two individuals and the only thing you know about them is that one is obese and one isn't, you don't know a thing about their relative health.
Actually, not true. You do, but because of the small sample size. your error margins are larger.

Cheers,
9.23.2009 1:41pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
This is quite possibility the most ridiculous argument ever. There is no regulation of smoking in private places, ie your home. Only in public, where others contact your second hand smoke.
First, so what if they do? There's no non-junk science showing that casual contact with second hand smoke is harmful. Second, the claim that there's no regulation of smoking in private places is false, as evidenced by the smoking bans in restaurants and offices. And since you're a leftist and don't understand that those are as private as homes, I will point out that there are indeed current or proposed smoking regulations in private homes and cars and clubs as well.
9.23.2009 2:14pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Zuch, if you truly are dealing with two individuals your error margins will be so large as to make your assumptions worthless.
9.23.2009 2:16pm
Ex parte McCardle:
"There's no non-junk science showing that casual contact with second hand smoke is harmful." David M. Nieporent, I'll have whatever you're smoking.
9.23.2009 3:06pm
Uh_Clem (mail):
I'll have whatever you're smoking.

This makes me wonder - if I come in regular contact with someone who has his head buried in the sand, am I at risk for second-hand sand?

Just curious.
9.23.2009 3:43pm
ChrisatOffice (mail):
Uh_Clem:

I believe that would be second-hand suffocation.
9.23.2009 4:09pm
wooga:
C.S. Lewis nailed it:
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
9.23.2009 4:36pm
BT:
Someone up thread made a reference to not thinking that Fresca was vulnerable to tampering in any way by the government. In the early 1970s Fresca was by far and away the best tasting soft drink on the market (in my opinion) but it had an ingredient called cyclamates, which research had shown caused cancer and it was subsequently banned for use in food products if memory serves. Anyway, I have no idea if the science used to ban cyclamates was honest or not, but Fresca never tasted the same without it. I assume that is why Fresca was used in the title of this post.
9.23.2009 5:43pm
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):

There's no non-junk science showing that casual contact with second hand smoke is harmful.


David, I don't know about cancer and second hand smoke, if that's what you're talking about. I do know that for people who have asthma and other respiratory problems, or who have allergies to cigarette smoke, second hand smoke can be harmful. If I'm around it to any degree, for instance, I can count on a migraine later. I don't enjoy those.

Now I'm not saying that this justifies draconian bans on smoking, not at all. I am saying that there are people for whom second-hand smoke is a non-trivial concern and it has nothing to do with cancer or junk science. I'm old enough to remember when you couldn't go into a public restroom or an elevator without coughing your head off. It's irritating for non-smokers at best; for people who have those afore-mentioned conditions, it can have the effect of preventing them from going about their business out in public like everyone else.

Of course you have the I-have-to-do-whatever-crosses-my-mind, everybody-else-go-to-hell crowd, whose lives are not worth living if they can't smoke, or whatever, whenever the mood strikes them.

Then you have the sorcerer's apprentice phenomenon, in which a few well-placed and thought-out out rules that make it so everybody gets what they want as much as possible end up so expanded that they're unrecognizable and people can't smoke in their own homes. Don't know what to do about that.
9.23.2009 5:49pm
Paul Hsieh (mail) (www):
Other countries are doing similar things already, and the US is not far behind:

"Universal Healthcare and the Waistline Police"
Paul Hsieh
Christian Science Monitor, 1/11/2009
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Fitness/story?id=6614687&page=1
9.23.2009 5:58pm
ray_g:
"Of course you have the I-have-to-do-whatever-crosses-my-mind, everybody-else-go-to-hell crowd, whose lives are not worth living if they can't smoke, or whatever, whenever the mood strikes them."

And for every one of these there are one or more of the "smoking is just eeeeeeeeeeeeevil, we have to stamp it out no matter what" crowd.


The EPA second hand smoke study was worse than junk science, it was outright fraud. Nothing save gross incompetence explains the number of things wrong with it. Either way, why should I now take seriously what the EPA claims about, say, climate change, or the hazards of (insert favorite allegedly toxic substance here)?
9.23.2009 6:48pm
Martha:
re: smoking bans in private dwellings

Condo associations are starting to ban smoking, too (because of smoke drifting to neighboring units). link
9.23.2009 8:02pm
Ricardo (mail):
Actually, this is not true. If you compare groups of people, one of which is comprised of obese people and one of non-obese, you probably will find a higher incidence of diabetes, etc., in the obese group. But if you start with two individuals and the only thing you know about them is that one is obese and one isn't, you don't know a thing about their relative health.

No, it is, it is just phrased in a way a lay audience can understand. The author could have said, "If you run a logit regression with incidence of hypertension on the left-hand side and introduce a vector of control variables to control for potential contributory factors like age, SES, sex, etc. along with an indicator of whether the person is obese or not, the coefficient on the obesity indicator will be positive and statistically significant at the 5% confidence level."

Instead of saying that, the author is trying to explain the statistical result to an audience that does not understand statistics. The short-cut the author took is not misleading in the least and is in fact an accurate interpretation of the statistical model that the statement is probably based on.
9.23.2009 11:59pm
NickM (mail) (www):
To expand on what Fred pointed out, the cities of Calabasas, CA and Richmond, CA have both also passed bans on smoking in multi-unit buildings.

Nick
9.24.2009 2:01am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Sarasota County, in Florida, now bans smoking on any public beach. It also has a policy that smokers will not be hired, that applicants will be subject to testing for nicotine in their systems, and that former smokers hired since the ban will undergo spot testing to ensure they are no longer smokers.

Another country imposed a similar hiring ban several years ago and was taken to court. That case worked its way up through the FL Supreme Court which found the ban to be constitutional.

Ah, freedom!
9.24.2009 9:04am
Laura(southernxyl) (mail) (www):
Ricardo, the problem is that what the lay audience understands is if you pick out Joe Blow off the sidewalk, and he's obese, then he has diabetes and high blood pressure and has to go to the doctor all the time; if he't not obese, then he does not have these health problems and does not have to go to the doctor all the time.

You simply cannot assume that from the data, but this:


"It's true that if you compare two people of the same age and wealth, one slim and the other obese, you can expect the fatter one to have more chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension. The fatter patient will also make more visits to the doctor, buy more prescription drugs, and otherwise ring up higher medical bills in a given year."


is saying exactly that.

There are plenty of slender people walking around with appalling health problems, including diabetes and hypertension.

There are plenty of overweight people walking around who do not have these problems.

So when you pick Joe Blow off the sidewalk, and note that he's overweight, or not overweight, the ONLY way you have of knowing what his health problems are is to ask him.
9.24.2009 9:16am
Linda F (mail) (www):
This is quite possibility the most ridiculous argument ever. There is no regulation of smoking in private places, ie your home. Only in public, where others contact your second hand smoke.


Wrong - smoking inside apartments HAS been banned, as has smoking in your own car. Laws against smoking in one's own apartment have been upheld, on the spurious grounds that it affects the neighbors.

I've worked 2 places at which smoking in one's own car, on one's own time, is prohibited. They were both schools. To light up a cigarette after a hard day could get you fired. And, FYI, school districts ARE government entities.
9.26.2009 3:06pm
devil's advocate (mail):
refreshing:

Fresca is diet, so I question the headline. I don't think anyone's coming after the Fresca.


You obviously didn't do your homework. It is always good to read the decision under the appellate decision, if you will. Saletan quoting the New England Journal of Medicine [my emphasis]:


No adverse health effects of noncaloric sweeteners have been consistently demonstrated, but there are concerns that diet beverages may increase calorie consumption by justifying consumption of other caloric foods or by promoting a preference for sweet tastes. At present, we do not propose taxing beverages with noncaloric sweeteners, but we recommend close tracking of studies to determine whether taxing might be justified in the future.


Brian
9.27.2009 10:27am

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Comment Policy: We reserve the right to edit or delete comments, and in extreme cases to ban commenters, at our discretion. Comments must be relevant and civil (and, especially, free of name-calling). We think of comment threads like dinner parties at our homes. If you make the party unpleasant for us or for others, we'd rather you went elsewhere. We're happy to see a wide range of viewpoints, but we want all of them to be expressed as politely as possible.

We realize that such a comment policy can never be evenly enforced, because we can't possibly monitor every comment equally well. Hundreds of comments are posted every day here, and we don't read them all. Those we read, we read with different degrees of attention, and in different moods. We try to be fair, but we make no promises.

And remember, it's a big Internet. If you think we were mistaken in removing your post (or, in extreme cases, in removing you) -- or if you prefer a more free-for-all approach -- there are surely plenty of ways you can still get your views out.