Despite the ever-shrinking number of smokers, cigarette use is still a top public health priority. And despite the incredible gains that have been made, the carnage caused by smoking still takes an enormous physical and financial toll.
Into this debate comes a product that advertises itself as a way for smokers to reduce the harm caused by cigarette use and a way for smokers to comply with smoking bans in work and public places.
That product is the “electronic cigarette” or e-cigarette.
Lately, I’ve been seeing and savoring quite a few foreign language films: titles that have not enjoyed across-the-board theatrical releases in the U.S. This lack of theatrical exposure is not because these films are lacking in quality. They are in fact engrossing and provocative.
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1980s, at a time when HIV/AIDS was decimating the gay community. AIDS has since been rendered a chronic but manageable illness with the development of effective antiviral drugs (at least for those who can afford them), but at that time a diagnosis of AIDS was considered to be a death sentence.
Writing in the New York Times (4/8/12) Ross Douthat argues “that religious common ground has all but disappeared.” The existence of a Judeo Christian center that helped bind the teeming nation together is in retreat, he claims. In a nation as divided as ours, religious polarization is inescapable as the race to the presidency has already suggested.
Tasked with helping draft a constitution for India after World War II, B. N. Rau traveled abroad speaking to jurists. In Washington, Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter advised Rau not to include a due process clause in the Indian Constitution. Instead India should have a clause simply requiring that no one be charged with a crime but by the law of the land. That was the meaning of the Magna Carta in 1215 which said:
No freemen shall be taken or imprisoned … or in any way destroyed … except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.
In 2001, after receiving a solicitation letter in the mail and then viewing a TV interview of Walter Cronkite, Honorary National Chairman of the Interfaith Alliance, this commentator became a member. The idea of religious and lay leaders of many faiths joining together to ensure utmost support for the constitutional certainty of both religious freedom and church/state separation was an irresistible inducement. When I later learned of the formation of an affiliated unit, in New York State, I became an avid supporter.
This past week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued final regulations to require oil and gas drillers to capture harmful air pollutants that escape from wells during drilling operations, and from natural gas storage facilities and pipelines. The final rule is a first, and it's good news. But the new rules take 2 and a half years to become effective. New York can and should do better.
Cigarettes cause cancer. Each pack has a warning label that tells us that. Tobacco smoke not only hurts the smoker, but the smoke also harms non-smokers. That’s the reason why laws were passed banning smoking in all work places and public places.
When the most recent Iraq war began, I was serving as student rabbi at a wonderful little synagogue in New England. One of the regulars at our monthly Torah study was a World War II veteran – let’s call him Sam. Sam would always bring consideration and deep insight to text study. But more than that, Sam was – and is – a mensh.
BULLY, a new documentary whose title tells you all you need to know about its subject matter, has been earning reams of publicity– and deservedly so. For one thing, the Motion Picture Association of America, the organization charged with rating movies, originally slapped BULLY with an “R” rating. This designation would prevent countless young people who need to be educated about the effects of bullying from seeing this important film. (Happily, the MPAA has indeed changed the film’s rating to “PG-13.”)