Can the FDA Protect Smokers from Injury?

May 18, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

New research blames changes in cigarette design for fueling a certain type of lung cancer, according to an article put out by the associated press. In the article Dr. David Burns of the University of California says that “up to half of the nation’s lung cancer cases may be due to those practices.” Researchers conclude that it is riskier to smoke cigarettes today than it was a few decades ago. In the 1960’s there was a movement toward lower-tar cigarettes. Consequently, that movement changed cigarettes so that they contained less tar and more Nitrosamines, a type of carcinogen. Nitrosamines are a byproduct of tobacco processing and levels vary for a variety of reasons, one of which is curing techniques. The research states that while the nation’s total lung cancer cases have inched down as the numbers of smokers has dropped in recent years, the individual smoker’s risk of getting cancer is higher. The research shows that when smokers switched to the lower tar cigarettes, they began inhaling more deeply to get their nicotine jolt, which pushed cancer causing smoke deeper into their lungs.

Congress is currently debating the issue of whether the FDA should regulate tobacco. President Obama supports legislation that would allow the FDA powers over tobacco products. The Office Management and Budget states: “Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States and is a contributing factor to scores of diseases and conditions inflicting misery upon millions of our citizens…Further, Tobacco products—including nicotine and possibly after the study, menthol.” Under new proposed legislation, the FDA would have the power to decide such things as whether to set caps on certain chemicals in tobacco smoke. The FDA would also be given the power to approve or reject new tobacco products and to expand market restrictions and warning labels. Here at the Brod Law firm we see the issue as problematic. The problem with the FDA regulating cigarettes and having its name on warning/safety labels is that it will give the impression that the FDA is saying it is safe to use. Also, tobacco companies may try to protect themselves against any liability by claiming they are in compliance with FDA standards. But we do believe that any regulation is a start in the right direction and that it is better than no regulation at all. Any effort by the government to protect the public from product injury is always a good idea no matter how politically heated the subject.

May is the Month For Motorcyle Safety in San Francisco, California

May 12, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed May 2009 as “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.” This bit of information was brought to our attention from an article in the San Francisco Examiner. The article states: An increase in motorcycle use by inexperienced riders is being blamed for the bump in accidents involving the two-wheeled vehicles on city streets. It further points out that there has also been an increase in motorcycle accidents during the past several years. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has, as part of its safety campaign, declared that May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. On a national level, according to NHTSA’s statistics, motorcycle accident injuries and deaths have been on the rise since the late 1990’s. Also according to the NHTSA, the majority of fatal motorcycle accidents happen on non-interstate roads. And statistics from the Department of Motor vehicles reveal motorcycle registration in San Francisco went from 17,611 to 19,417 from 2004-2007. This increase of motorcycle use can explain the rise in accidents—since most new riders are usually inexperienced.
The real problem here is not that too many motorcycles make our roads unsafe but rather that too many inexperienced riders make our roads unsafe. So, just as Arnold Schwarzenegger points out, every person who gets on a motorcycle needs to take the proper steps to stay safe. As part of his proclamation he shares that our state offers the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, which has trained many inexperienced motorcycle riders. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we would like to share with our readers additional information, provided by NHTSA, for motorists and motorcyclists to help motorcycle riders stay safe. Some safety tips for motorists are:
1. Respect motorcyclists—remember that motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges as other vehicles on the road;
2. Look out for motorcyclists on the highway when entering or leaving a lane;
3. Anticiapte a motorcyclists maneuvers.
4. Allow plenty of space when following a morocycle.
Some tips for motorcyclists are:
1. Make yourself visible and clearly signal before changing lanes,
2. Use lane positioning to your advantage to use provide extra space for emergency braking situations or avoidance maneuvers,
3. Never share a lane with a care or weave between lanes.
4. Always wear protective gear.