Big Tobacco’s lessons for Big Food

In the good old days, the tobacco industry had a strategic marketing playbook script that worked something like this:

  • emphasize personal responsibility for choosing to smoke
  • pay scientists to deliver research that instills doubt about risks
  • criticize the “junk science” that finds harms associated with smoking
  • make self-regulatory pledges
  • lobby with massive resources to stifle government action
  • introduce “safer” products
  • simultaneously manipulate and deny both the addictive nature of tobacco products and marketing said products to children

The compelling question asked by researchers Drs. Kelly Brownell and Kenneth Warner is this: How does the script of the modern food industry compare to that tobacco industry script?  Continue reading

Painkiller overdose deaths top those from heroin and cocaine

Almost everything I know about chronic pain I learned while working in hospice palliative care, where pain management was one of the most important components in easing the end-of-life suffering of our patients.  But even before then, one April morning in 1983, I listened to my father’s oncologist tell our family:

 We are reluctant to give him morphine for his pain because it’s addictive.”   

My Dad, who had been diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer, died nine hours after that pronouncement. But at least he wasn’t an addict when he died.  Continue reading