-- April 11, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 212
Terror And The Lollipop
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, April 11--A new Terror, more
fierce than than the Middle East crisis, splashed across the
front pages of newspapers and news programs broadcast to more
than 100 million television sets yesterday.
It was the threat
to America of the Terroristic "Nicotine Lollipop!"
Vigilant, the Federal
Drug Administration, quashed efforts by two on-line drug companies
to sell the products designed to abate smoking.
Besides the lollipops laced with nicotine was a lip balm whose
nicotine base violated FDA approval standards.
When I first heard
the headlines on the nightly television news, I thought of some
guy in an overcoat selling lollipops to kids near the elementary
school. But, as the story unfolded, I was to learn that
the lollipops and lip balm were for people like myself who are
addicted to the terrible habit of smoking.
Two companies, Ashland
Drug, based in Ashland Mississippi, and Bird's Hill Pharmacy
of Needham, Massachusetts, were the targets of the FDAs "act
At its web site,
nicotinelollipops.com, Ashland Drug has been selling a "suck
'till you stop" nicotine-laced lollipop. It was designed
for smokers trying to kick the habit to use to quell the "urge
to smoke." When you get the pang to smoke,
you pull out your lollipop and suck until the urge passes.
The cost--$2 to $2.50 a lollipop.
Larry Melton, owner of
Ashland Drugs, was quoted in the New York Times yesterday as
saying: "I didn't know there'd be a problem."
The problem was that the
Sentinels of Vigilance hired by the FDA were more concerned
with the dangers to children than to the potential life-saving
results for adults. Apparently, the labeling on
the products didn't give sufficient warning to children.
In a related act of Vigilance,
the FDA also scorned and halted the sale of nicotine based lip
balm. Larry Frieders, owner of The Compounding Pharmacy,
manufacturers of the lip balm, created the product to supplant
the lollipops. When a customer
mentioned that it's hard to suck a lollipop in church, the owner
started to manufacture the lip balm. "Licking your
lips can help you lick the habit," his web site advertised.
Politicians were quick to leap
into the middle of the Vigilance Battle. Senator
Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said: "It is a frightening
prospect that you could take a nicotine compound that has never
been tested for safety, put it in a lollipop that appeals to
children and sell it over the internet."
While I am all for Vigilance
to protect our children, I was also Vigilant in noticing that
none of the news articles I read told about the deaths resulting
from smoking, or gave kudos to the creators of the products
for their attempt to try and salvage lives.
Annually, according to the Center for Disease Control, over
400,000 deaths are directly related to cigarette smoking--more
than 276,000 men and 142,000 women. The CDC also reports
that between 1960 and 1990 deaths from lung cancer among women
have increased by more than 400%--exceeding breast cancer deaths
in the mid-1980's.
Looking at smoking deaths from
the point of view of "robbing" life from its victims,
the CDC estimates that more than five million years of life
is prematurely snubbed out by smoking deaths each year.
The World Resources Institute
goes a step farther. It reports that around the
world, in 1993, smoking was responsible for 3 million deaths
per year. The World Health Organization states there are
about 1.1 billion smokers worldwide, or about one third of the
population 15 years and older. Eight hundred million
of these are in developing countries.
The WHO projects an increase from 3 million deaths annually
in 1993 to 8.4 million in 2020. Their global
statistical projections show that within 25 years tobacco will
surpass infectious disease as the leading threat to human health
I thought a lot about the heel
of the FDA's boot squashing the drug companies attempt to sell
products to help people stop smoking. Certainly,
we must be wary of anyone promoting untested drugs, and even
more concerned about labeling dangerous products to keep them
out of children's hands.
However, the War On Smoking,
seems to have little credence with the journalists who reported
The issue of the Terror Of Smoking
was left out.
When a disease as insidious as smoking takes a half million
lives each year and snuffs them out without notice, one wonders
whether the Terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon
might have been blown out of proportion. Some 3,000
lives were prematurely extinguished in the September 11th attack
compared with over 400,000 lives lost to the Terrorism of smoking
While we promote the heroism
of the police and fire personnel who risked their lives to rescue
those trapped in burning buildings, we crucify those who try
and save the lives of smokers.
total deaths from Nine Eleven represent 3/4 of a percent of
all the yearly deaths attributed directly to smoking.
I seek not to diminish
the loss of life of those victims of the September 11th tragedy,
or in any way delimit the courage and bravery of the firemen,
police and emergency workers who gave their lives so others
could live--but, I do wonder why a couple of businesses are
being bashed to pieces by the press and government over their
heroism and bravery to sell products designed to save lives.
I find it a little incredulous to believe children would order
nicotine lollipops or nicotine-laced lip balm off the internet.
I also wonder what the
comparative danger ratio is between a child sucking on a nicotine
lollipop his or her parents left out in relation to the damaging
impact of the second-hand smoke the child inhales from his or
her parents' smoking?
concern was the press's negligence in reporting the "smoking
gun" facts. While the press is quick to pull
out of its research hat thousands of years of history and data
on the Middle East crisis, why not contrast the Vigilance of
a couple of pharmacy companies with one of America's most Terroristic
enemies--smoking? Why not alert the public the number
one health threat, the single most insidious and wasteful losses
of life and value to human life, results from smoking?
And, those who proffer legitimate solutions to the problem need
to be hoisted up the flagpole, not nailed to the cross.
is the issue of what sells papers and commercials that is the
real point. If the media is supposed to be the government's
watchdog, and the true Voice of the people, it would seem it
missed the mark of Vigilance on this issue--at least in the
stories I read.
not about supporting stupidity.
It is about going the extra step, looking under the rocks to
find out what is right for the children of this nation and the
world and making that the priority rather than just reporting
the "facts" as issued by indictments or governmental
warnings. There is no Vigilance in being the lackey
Each year, the children
of America are robbed by the Terrorists of Tobacco of
5 million years of life span of their mothers, fathers, uncles,
aunts, grandparents, sisters, brothers, cousins and loved ones.
The killer of these lives is tobacco.
It would seem that
the weight of that loss versus the dangers of a child sucking
on a nicotine lollipop or licking their lips laced with nicotine
lip balm, ought to be brought to the public's attention.
We ought to consider our real Tobacco Terrorism with a proportionate
amount of Vigilance we give to Middle East Terrorists.
The child who watches his
or her loved ones wither and die from lung cancer suffers a
Terrorism that far surpasses, or at least equals, the Terror
of what happened on the Second Tuesday of September, 2001.
I consider the companies
who produced and sold the products Sentinels of Vigilance.
Am I wrong or right? Or,
do you even care?
Go To April 10--Daffodils of Vigilance
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