THE VigilanceVoicev
Thursday -- April 11, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 212

Terror And The Lollipop
Cliff McKenzie
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 of Vigilance."
        At its web site,, 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 worldwide.
      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 event.
      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 each year.
       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.
        Statistically, the 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?
         Of greater 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.
         Perhaps it 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.
         Vigilance is 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 of government.
        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?  

       Semper Vigilantes.

 Go To April 10--Daffodils of Vigilance

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