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Thursday, 28 June 2012

Public Health in the News: People, Quebec Tobacco law suit, Gambling advertising, Cosmetic pesticides

Today is one of those historic public health days.  The US Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of providing health care to all Americans.   Put differently, it gets to decide whether it is legal to let some 20% of our southern neighbours die prematurely because of their personal financial barriers to health services, or if there is anything to be said about the “We” in “We the people….  ”.   More on the decision in a future blog.

It was with concern and dismay that the February stroke of Canada’s first and only Chief Public Health Officer was announced several months after the event.  Fortunately his quick mind, biting wit and perseverance for Canada’s public health was not affected, the stroke limited to motor functions in one of the lower limbs, or so the media reports say.  May all of public Health wish David Butler-Jones a full and fulfilling recovery. 

For those following the movement of key public health folks will note that Andrea Corriveau has returned as the CMHO for the Northwest Territories after a three year stint in a similar position in Alberta.  James Talbot has moved from deputy to CMHO for the province in a deserving career step that has had its share of Albertan propensity to see public health folks move in and out of favour. 

Manitoba remains under the leadership of Margaret Fast since the untimely departure of one of Canada’s solid public health leaders in Joel Kettner.  No doubt there are other recent movements as well of lifelong public health contributors to be celebrated.

Quebec has joined with most of the other provinces in suing tobacco firms for unnecessary and preventable health care costs associated with misrepresentation of the tobacco product. In this case $60B.   The story in French at Lapresse on Quebec tobacco law suit 

Have you noticed the surge in advertising related to gambling?   No doubt one of the next logical targets for public health advocates is to begin to constrain this addiction, and government addiction to the revenue carried on the backs of their citizens.   The story from Ontario about advertising that suggests that to get away from family you should go to the casino hit a few raw nerves Forget your family - The Star.    

The Ontario College of Family Physicians released an updated literature review on the impacts of pesticides in the ongoing efforts to limit toxic effects OCFP and pesticides.  This group has been one of the leading driver of pesticide reduction efforts in the country and clearly has been effective in Ontario.   There efforts did not however sway the BC government committee that dismissed certain scientists and used anecdotal evidence on the failure of weed management strategies  in a couple of situations as sufficient rationale to recommend against a cosmetic pesticide regulation for the province BC cosmetic pesticide committee report.   The truth likely lies somewhere between this extreme positions.   The Scandanavian “substitution” principle adopted in Europe nicely handles the debate more than the much debated “precautionary” principle.  Substitution principle 

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