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    Published on: March 10, 2008

    The Boston Globe focuses on a story that is likely to preoccupy many newspapers, magazines and news networks in coming months – the fast rise in grocery prices that are stressing many household budgets.

    “After nearly two decades of low food inflation, prices for staples such as bread, milk, eggs, and flour are rising sharply, surging in the past year at double-digit rates, according to the Labor Department,” the Globe writes. “Milk prices, for example, increased 26 percent over the year. Egg prices jumped 40 percent.

    “Escalating food costs could present a greater problem than soaring oil prices for the national economy because the average household spends three times as much for food as for gasoline. Food accounts for about 13 percent of household spending compared with about 4 percent for gas.

    “Rising food prices can be particularly corrosive to consumer confidence because people are so frequently exposed to the cost increases … As with energy, higher food costs cut into discretionary income that buys everything from cars to computers to movie tickets and drives the consumer-based US economy. Falling home values and a faltering stock market have battered consumer confidence, spurring a retrenchment in spending that is contributing to recent job losses and pulling the economy toward recession.

    “Many analysts expect consumers to keep paying more for food. Wholesale food prices, an indicator of where supermarket prices are headed, rose last month at the fastest rate since 2003, with egg prices jumping 60 percent from a year ago, pasta products 30 percent, and fruits and vegetables 20 percent, according to the Labor Department.”

    KC's View:
    One of the interesting things about the Globe piece is that the word “recession” is only used once, and that strikes me as instructive. I’d come back to the point I made last Friday…that I tend to agree with the point made recently by IRI’s Thom Blishock, that the economy is not so much going into recession as making a transformation.

    Which is much harder to deal with. Recession is something to be endured, always with the knowledge that it eventually will end and thing will go back to the way they were. But transformation…that’s a lot harder, because the world ain’t going back to the way it was. It means we have to make long-term plans - as citizens, as consumers, as businesses – for how we will adjust to new realities.

    Tough stuff. But, I think, inevitable.

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    In the UK, The Times reports that “scientists and environmentalists have attacked a global campaign to ban plastic bags which they say is based on flawed science and exaggerated claims … Campaigners say that plastic bags pollute coastlines and waterways, killing or injuring birds and livestock on land and, in the oceans, destroying vast numbers of seabirds, seals, turtles and whales. However, The Times has established that there is no scientific evidence to show that the bags pose any direct threat to marine mammals.”

    The story comes as British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that supermarkets will be forced to charge for plastic bags, as the UK government launched an offensive designed to minimize the use of plastic bags. But critics of the government say that the government is jumping on a bandwagon based on faulty science.
    KC's View:
    I was directed to this story by an MNB user who clearly is frustrated by my continued support of programs that promote the use of reusable cloth bags instead of disposable bags.

    But I have to be honest. This story doesn’t do anything to change my mind.

    One of the frustrations of being a consumer in today’s world is that I have no idea how to interpret the story. It is written from the perspective that the government is wrong and the critics are right…but I don't know how to gauge the bias. Are there as many scientists who would dispute the argument that plastic bags don't hurt wildlife? I don't know. One thing is for sure – look hard enough, and you can find a so-called scientist who will support any position. (I’m consistently amazed that there are people who call themselves scientists who question evolution and the idea that mankind might be having an impact on global warming.)

    So for the sake of this discussion, I’m willing to concede the faulty science argument. But to me, it doesn’t matter.

    It seems simply a matter of common sense that the use of canvas bags that do not get thrown out is better for the environment than the use of bags that do get thrown out. It seems a matter of common sense that the more we can reduce waste in our world, the better.

    I went shopping yesterday, and I filled 10 canvas sacks with groceries. (One of my sons is home from college for the week, so I had to stock up.) I didn’t use any plastic bags. Those canvas sacks went back into the back of the car when I was done with them, where they will be used next time I go shopping.

    I’m not thinking about litter. Not thinking about wildlife. I’m just thinking about reducing waste, and trying to make it an ongoing and persistent habit.

    Which strikes me as both environmentally sensitive and common sense, no matter what arguments scientists want to have.

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    In the UK, the Sunday Telegraph reported that “Wal-Mart president Lee Scott became so dismayed at the failure to crack the UK market and the constraints on future growth that last year he ordered a strategic review that could have seen Wal-Mart float a minority stake in Asda or even pull out of the UK entirely.”

    Wal-Mart acquired Asda in 1999.

    The Telegraph notes that Wal-Mart has shelved a strategic review of Asda’s future, and that the company is not commenting on the report.

    Wal-Mart’s frustration with Asda’s progress seems to be directly related to the UK’s public policy approach, according to the story: “The revelation that Wal-Mart even considered pulling out of the UK will stun retail-watchers on both sides of the Atlantic and raise renewed questions about whether the UK is becoming less attractive to overseas investors.

    “It will also stir up the debate about over-regulation. The decision by the Competition Commission to bar Asda from buying Safeway particularly infuriated Wal-Mart and is thought to have originally sparked the debate about the future of its investment in Asda. Asda has often been held up as an example of a successful overseas venture for Wal Mart - which has had mixed results outside its home market. The American company pulled out of Germany in 2006 after an unsuccessful foray.

    “But despite the success, executives say Scott has become increasingly loath to invest large amounts of capital in the mature and competitive UK market - when potentially much greater returns can be generated in China, India and South America.”

    KC's View:
    Hard to believe that Wal-Mart would pull out of the UK, but it is easy to argue that the ongoing battle with Tesco there has taught Wal-Mart important lessons about how to compete with Britain’s most successful retailer. After all, now that Tesco has begun opening stores in the US, Wal-Mart has come up with a new small-store format designed to go head-to-head with the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets.

    Sometimes, you have to play both offense and defense.

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    The New York Times reported over the weekend that an advocacy group called American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology, which in fact is closely affiliated with Monsanto, “has started a counteroffensive to stop the proliferation of milk that comes from cows that aren’t treated with synthetic bovine growth hormone.

    According to the story, the group “says it is a grass-roots organization that came together to defend members’ right to use recombinant bovine somatotropin, also known as rBST or rBGH, an artificial hormone that stimulates milk production. It is sold by Monsanto under the brand name Posilac.

    “Dairy farmers are indeed part of the organization. But (it) was organized in part by Monsanto and a Colorado consultant who lists Monsanto as a client.”

    The group was created, the Times reports, “as a growing number of consumers are choosing milk that comes from cows that are not treated with the artificial growth hormone. Even though the Food and Drug Administration has declared the synthetic hormone safe, many other countries have refused to approve it, and there is lingering concern among many consumers about its impact on health and the welfare of cows.

    “The marketplace has responded, and now everyone from Whole Foods Market to Wal-Mart Stores sells milk that is labeled as coming from cows not treated with the hormone. Some dairy industry veterans say it’s only a matter of time before nearly all of the milk supply comes from cows that weren’t treated with Posilac. According to Monsanto, about a third of the dairy cows in the United States are in herds where Posilac is used.

    “And the trend might not stop with milk. Kraft is planning to sell cheese labeled as having come from untreated cows.

    “But consumer demand for more natural products has conflicted with some dairy farmers’ desire to use the artificial hormone to bolster production and bottom lines, and it has certainly interfered with Monsanto’s business plan for Posilac.

    “Cows typically produce an extra gallon a day when they are treated with Posilac. That can translate into serious money for dairy farmers at a time when prices are near record highs.” The group is “meeting with retailers and pushing efforts by state legislators and state agriculture commissioners to pass laws to ban or restrict labels that indicate milk comes from untreated cows.”

    KC's View:
    Shame on this group for pushing for laws that would, in essence, prevent transparency on the part of retailers and suppliers,

    I understand the business case. But I do not understand, for the life of me, why a company or organization would hit the bricks with a campaign that is designed to prevent disclosure about ingredients.

    It doesn’t make sense, It doesn’t even make business sense, not in the long term, because it undermines the credibility of the people and organizations that promote such efforts.

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    Dow Jones reports that the US Attorney’s Office is keeping its options open and will consider whether it wants to try yet again to get former Wal-Mart vice chairman Tom Coughlin to spend at least some time in jail for his fraud conviction.

    Coughlin, who pleaded guilty to stealing cash, gift cards and equipment from Wal-Mart, was sentenced to community service, five years’ probation, a $50,000 fine, and ordered to pay $400,000 restitution and spend 27 months of home detention on his Arkansas ranch; the judge agreed with the defense contention that Coughlin was too old and sick to go to jail.

    The prosecutor appealed the sentence once but only managed to have more community service time added to the sentence. Now, the government has filed another notice of appeal, though the US Attorney’s Office says this is more a matter of preserving options and that a final decision has not been reached.

    KC's View:
    I’ll say it again – if an hourly worker at Wal-Mart who was Coughlin’s age and in his sort of physical condition had been caught stealing far less, he’d be in jail right now…up the river rather than up on the ranch.

    This sentence sends a lousy message about the notion of judicial fairness.

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    In West Virginia, the Daily Mail reports that a new 86,000 square foot Kroger is not just the biggest supermarket in the state, but also “very green” and highly “eco-friendly.”

    According to the story, “The new store has 50 skylights to provide natural lighting and enhance the shopping experience for customers … Many aspects of the store are computerized, including the overhead lights. The lights are on sensors, so on a particularly sunny day, they will automatically dim and allow the store to be lit by the natural light, thus conserving energy.

    “There are also automatic sensors on the toilets and sinks in the bathrooms to save water. In addition, the lights in the coolers and dairy refrigerator cases are also on sensors and will turn off when they don't sense movement.”

    However, the paper notes that there are skeptics about Kroger’s efforts.

    "Greening a supermarket is a little like putting lipstick on a pig," Paul Brown, an eco-friendly advocate and professor of physiology at West Virginia University, tells the Daily Mail. "To be really green, we should have small stores integrated with residential areas so that most people can walk to places for everyday necessities rather than drive. In fact, parking spaces for such stores would be superfluous. Also, the impact on the land and ecosystems would be less if there were no supermarket and associated parking and access roads."

    KC's View:
    I don't think Professor Brown goes far enough.

    After all, to be really green, we’d also get rid of cars completely and start using horses and carts. And maybe we could stop flying around the world on airplanes, shut down the Internet, and perhaps even eliminate the need for electricity.

    Give me a break.

    Could we all do more to be more environmentally responsible? Sure. But Brown’s criticisms are specious, because they ignore some basic realities about how Americans live today, and one of those realities is that we’re unlikely to go back to a time when people walked to the local grocery store. That’s not to say that companies like Kroger won’t evolve their infrastructures to the point where its big stores are supplemented by its own smaller neighborhood stores, but to disparage its current efforts to be more “green” strikes me as being almost irresponsible.

    One other thing. The “lipstick on a pig” line is getting old and intellectually lazy.

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    Interesting column by Warren Brown in Sunday’s Washington Post which makes a series of points:

    • That Brown is fond of Wal-Mart, because it often offers the best prices;
    • That Brown’s family is comprised largely of union members, who are predisposed to hate Wal-Mart for what are perceived as anti-union policies;
    • That “regardless of politics or union affiliation, when it comes to searching for the best quality at the most reasonable prices, Wal-Mart is one of the places we look first.”

    Brown uses these three points to illustrate what he believes is a larger truth – that the two candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination are incorrect when they disparage the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).


    “None of us should take seriously anything that politicians, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, have to say against NAFTA in particular or international trade in general. The reason is simple: They neither understand Wal-Mart nor do they routinely shop there.

    “Consider Ohio: Wal-Mart is one of the largest employers and biggest taxpayers in the state. As of March 2007, there were 99 Wal-Mart Supercenter stores in the Ohio, 38 Wal-Mart discount stores, 30 Wal-Mart Sam's Clubs and five Wal-Mart regional distribution centers.

    “In Ohio state sales taxes alone, the company paid $410.2 million in 2007. In other state and local taxes, it paid $82.4 million.

    “All of those Wal-Mart facilities and the money they generated were supported by one phenomenon: consumers, union and nonunion, employed by and laid off by domestic car companies and other manufacturing entities, seeking the highest quality products at the very best prices.

    “If Wal-Mart could not meet that essential consumer demand, it would not exist in Ohio or anywhere else. It certainly would not be the formidable retailer it is today.

    “What does that mean for the current political debate on international trade? Simply this: As long as politicians continue to ignore the Wal-Mart phenomenon, the consumer-driven reality of international trade, they are being dishonest. They are blowing smoke.”

    KC's View:
    I’m not smart enough to understand all the details and implications of NAFTA, but of this much I am reasonably sure.

    In the end, America will be better off if it is more competitive rather than more protectionist.

    And in the end, politicians who pander to citizens by suggesting that he or she can bring back jobs that have been lost to tectonic economic shifts are, indeed, blowing smoke. Those jobs aren’t coming back. Ever. That’s not to say that better jobs won’t be created, and that Americans cannot reinvent themselves to be competitive in a global economy.

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    The Chicago Tribune reports that four major food manufacturers – ConAgra, General Mills, Heinz and Nestle – have recalled products that may have contained meat that was involved in the 143 million pound recall of beef produced by the Hallmark/Westland meatpacking company.

    But, the Tribune notes, while the companies “have notified retailers and told them to pull those products from store shelves … none has taken the usual step of notifying consumers through news releases and warnings on company Web sites. (Notices resembling recalls, complete with lot numbers, have popped up on food blogs, however.)

    “Why the secrecy? In part because the recall is indirect; the U.S. Department of Agriculture urged Hallmark/Westland to contact food producers that use its meat and urge them to pull their products from the shelves. But the USDA itself did not contact the food producers.

    “The food manufacturers say they are under no obligation to notify consumers. Companies like ConAgra and General Mills have recently experienced recalls involving peanut butter, pot pies and pizza, so the prospect of another recall can hardly have been welcome. ”

    KC's View:
    It seems to me that in some ways the most important sentence in this story is the one that was in parentheses – that “notices resembling recalls, complete with lot numbers, have popped up on food blogs.”

    It’s the reason transparency is so important – because much of the information is out there anyway. Companies might as well be at the forefront of disclosure, because otherwise they may be seen as resisting transparency. Which, in my view, ain’t the best place to be.

    (You can't be thinking about what the government requires, because it isn’t like the government understands the concept of disclosure. You have to be ahead of the curve.)

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    The Dallas Morning News reports that “the nation is being inundated by high-end cheeses that challenge the palate in ways industrial cheese couldn't dream, cheeses that for once have Europeans looking west with envy. Welcome to the world of America's cutting edge curds, where obscure cheeses can attain cult status and massive grocery chains tout cheeses that once wouldn't have made it in the door.”

    According to the story, “Artisanal cheese is one of the fastest growing segments of the $59 billion gourmet food industry, with cheese and dairy expected to see double digit growth through 2012,” a shift that is occurring as “the collective American palate has become increasingly adventurous and sophisticated, thanks in part to a pervasive food media that has helped turn the U.S. into a nation of would-be foodies.”

    At the same time, “No longer are fine cheeses the provenance of specialty shops, or even the Trader Joe's, Wegman's and Whole Foods of the world. Demand has sent the typical grocer scurrying to get in on the artisanal cheese scene.”

    KC's View:
    Not being a cheese guy, I have to admit that the appeal of most cheeses sort of escapes me. But this is all good news to Mrs. Content Guy, who is far more likely than I to sit down with some good cheeses and a glass of wine and be perfectly happy.

    From a business perspective, this story illustrates Americans’ continuing aspirational approach to food, which I think ought to inform more food marketing efforts by supermarkets.

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    Forbes reports that Wal-Mart increased its lobbying budget by 60 percent in 2007, and spent $4 million “to influence the government on issues ranging from energy efficiency to retail crime.” The company spent $2.5 million in 2006, and $1.6 million in 2005.

    As a matter of comparison, Target spent just $200,000 on lobbying last year. And the National Retail Federation (NRF), the trade association, spent $1.7 million on lobbying in 2007.

    • In the UK, numerous press reports note that Wal-Mart’s Asda Group has decided to shut down its chain of George clothing stores, which began four years ago has a standalone chain that would feature the high-fashion, value-driven brand that also has proven to be quite successful in Asda living nonfood units.

    The reason given by the company: urban rents provided to be too high for the concept to be able to support.

    Retail Bulletin reports that Wal-Mart’s Asda Group in the UK plans to begin a “bag upon request” initiative, which will get rid of the obvious disposable plastic bags at the checkouts. The move coincides with Asda’s decision to promote reusable bags; during a test program, the company saw a 20 percent decrease in the use of disposable bags, and it hopes to be able to replicate that behavior nationally.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    In the current edition of Facts, Figures & The Future, Anne-Marie Roerink, director of research at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), writes:

    “Every so often we run across some data that challenges us to question the "conventional wisdom" that women are sole gatekeepers in shopping and preparing the family meals. A Men's Health magazine study reports that 65 percent of men are active weekly shoppers. This is not the only study making such claims. The Yankelovich Monitor reports that 71 percent of men are shopping at supermarkets one or more times per week, and WSL Strategic Retail reported a 20 point increase in men doing at least some of the grocery shopping from 41 percent in 2002 to 61 percent in 2004. These ‘Super Bowl’ like numbers mean that outside of their homes or workplace, the best place to reach or find men is at the supermarket … While women are still the key target, the findings show that men are playing a significant role in both shopping and preparing meals for their families.

    “Why is this? Two trends appear to emerge. First, the concept of channel blurring with shoppers making grocery trips to multiple stores to meet their food needs. By hitting up different locations households are more likely to divide up the trips — especially the quick ones — resulting in a greater involvement of male shoppers. Secondly, men are much more likely to take on part of the shopping and cooking in case of two-career couples and families. They tend to share responsibilities for every day tasks in order to balance full-time jobs and family demands on time. Regarding the latter, recent studies from the Family & Work Institute have shown that in case of mothers working full-time, men are playing a more active role in domestic activities, especially food shopping. The Men's Health study shows that nearly half (48 percent) of men ages 18 to 59 said their mothers worked full-time when they were teens. This societal change has significant influence on why men are more likely to share the load in household duties than previous generations.”

    In addition, Roerink writes, research suggests that: “no less than 65 percent of men are active food shoppers, and it's not just quick trips. Every week, 54 percent of men make a supplemental shopping trip (buying 9-15 items)-35% do the big food shopping trip (16+ items)-75% do a quick trip (3-5 items) every week.”

    In other worse, they are customers worth marketing to.

    And, there’s much more.

    To get your copy of F3, go to:

    F3 is a joint production of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert.

    (Full disclosure: MNB’s Kevin Coupe is a regular contributor to F3.)
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    • Numerous reports in the UK has focused on the retirement this week of Sir Ken Morrison, the chairman of William Morrison Supermarkets, who is stepping down from the business after 55 years with the company.

    All of the stories note that one of Morrison’s most audacious moves was the acquisition of Safeway Plc back in 2004, which turned the company into a national player and which, in the immediate aftermath, appeared to be a terrible mistake. Lately, however, it has begun to look like a canny move as William Morrison Supermarkets has begun to grow market share even in an intensely competitive market.

    • Hain Celestial Group reportedly will acquire the MaraNatha and SunSpire brands, which generated about $40 million in sales in 2007, and their nut butter manufacturing facility in Ashland, Ore., from American Capital Strategies Ltd. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    • Price Chopper/Golub Corp. announced that it has hired Peter Cobuzzi to be Vice President of Marketing, reporting directly to Joe Kelley, Vice President of Sales and Merchandising.

    Cobuzzi is the former senior vice president of marketing at Fortunoff.

    • Longs Drug Stores named Todd J. Vasos, the company’s senior vice president and chief merchandising officer, to be its new executive vice president/COO, replacing Karen Stout, who left the company.

    At the same time, Larry Gatta, group vice president of marketing, has been promoted to senior vice president and chief merchandising officer.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    • Wal-Mart de Mexico reports that its February sales were up 15 percent to the equivalent of $1.6 billion (US), compared to the same month a year ago. Same-store sales were up 8.4 percent.

    • Arden Group, owners of Gelson’s Markets in Southern California, reported that its fourth quarter sales were $126.2 million, down a bit from the $127.4 million in sales reported during the same period a year ago. Q4 net income was $7.3 million, down from $7.6 million a year ago.

    For the just completed fiscal year, Arden reported total sales of $485.9 million, up from $482.7 million during the previous year, and net income of $29.2 million, up from $23.2 million a year ago.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    Continuing the discussion of credit card fees, one MNB user wrote:

    The difference in PIN-based debit card fees verses credit card fees (is that) debit cards have a flat processing fee which can range from nothing to as high as say 35 cents. Credit cards vary, often a flat fee plus a percentage. I know of certain processing arrangements where it costs 35 cents for debit regardless of transaction amount and 10 cents plus 1.8% of the transaction amount for credit. In this case a merchant who is seeing a lot of small purchases with debit would be very wise to start pushing those purchases as credit purchases since it is cheaper to do so. It would appear around $13 or so would be the cut off point where anything under that amount would be cheaper as credit. Conversely, this merchant would want to encourage use of debit on the larger purchases. So these retailers who are complaining about fees would be wise to take a hard look at their processing agreements and figure out what their exact arrangements are. Some employee retraining may be necessary. I cannot believe how many cashiers default to debit because they find it easier to process a debit transaction than a credit transaction at locations where I am aware that it is cheaper for them to process as credit on a small transaction. Many customers use cards that will work as both debit and credit and do not care which way the card is processed. There are a few who want cash back who will insist on debit, understandably, but they are the exception. Merchants are also allowed to set a fee and a minimum purchase amount on debit transactions. Merchants are not allowed to set a fee or a minimum purchase amount on credit transactions.”

    Responding to last week’s story about vigilante consumers responding to a lack of customer service, one MNB user wrote:

    The three examples in your story all have one point in common: "Lock-in". In most US markets consumers have little to no choice in cable providers. There is no incentive for providers to 'compete' on good service. The same is true for Apple. As a PC user I have a plethora of choices available for service, Apple users are already locked into their service so again there is no incentive to provide maximum service.

    Not sure I entirely agree. While most communities have only one cable provider (an absurd and anti-competitive construction, by the way), there are other options – such as satellite services. And Apple does have some competition…the PC universe, which is more than twice its size.

    Another MNB user wrote:

    I'm from the generation that remembers "customer service". With most companies, it is currently non existent. I personally boycott my local Wal-Mart for this very reason. I tried to return a product for clogged drains that had a 'satisfaction guaranteed" sticker on it. I was given the run around, the clerk who was "helping me" took a break in the middle of her "assistance" without saying anything. I asked for the store manager, who also became MIA - I did finally get them to honor the return policy after nearly an HOUR (It seemed so very simple to me - the product didn't work!) I got my money back after nearly an hour, and they lost a customer.

    I'm concerned about the "dumbing down" of the expectation levels....20 somethings who are used to the lack of service at computer, cell, cable companies. I have way too many other horror stories to tell, from being hung up more than once, when making a simple request from the computer company - Dell, BTW - to honor my 3 year service agreement that I had paid extra for, and was still in place. I wasn't being rude, yet, and didn't have a sledgehammer- yet. but I sure reached the place where I would have liked to have one!

    On another subject, MNB user Terry Pyles wrote:

    One of your readers recently asked about the distinguishing factor between alcohol and tobacco in terms of potential health issues. I liked your answer very much: “Here’s the essential difference, in my mind. There are no circumstances under which tobacco is good for you. None. It is designed to addict and eventually kill you. When retailers looking to connect with the consumer using health and wellness and key strategies decide that tobacco doesn’t fit, that makes sense to me.

    Wine, on the other hand, has health benefits. Lots of them. In many cultures, it is celebrated as a food, not as an alcoholic beverage.”

    To which I would add my two cents. While alcohol containing products, as well as many other consumer products, e.g. household chemicals, products with accelerants, etc., all represent potential for abuse if used in ways contrary to their intended purpose, tobacco products are the only consumer goods on the retailer’s shelf that, when used entirely in the manner intended, will kill you. I would say this is quite a distinction.

    But MNB user Jeff Folloder didn’t entirely agree:

    In your comments section you remark that "tobacco is designed to addict and eventually kill you" and that there are "no circumstances under which tobacco is good for you". I believe that you are generalizing to a point where your statements do become inaccurate. Tobacco is a natural product and there are many forms that are not "designed" to kill you. Sure, many cigarette manufacturers may have added components to their products that are "designed" to reduce production costs and increase consumption rate. But those products that are added are not tobacco. Further, there is plenty of statistical evidence that shows that there are many tobacco users that exhibit absolutely no signs of addiction.

    I have a little difficulty with the "under no circumstances" statement, too. The original Surgeon's General Report on Smoking actually had a mortality table (Chapter 8) that showed that occasional pipe and cigar smokers demonstrated a mortality index that was lower than non-smokers. There are also several current medical studies that seem to indicate that many of the active components of tobacco can help with all kinds of maladies, from cancer to neurological issues. I'm pretty sure that living longer or helping to treat disease qualifies as something that might be good for you.

    Don't get me wrong. I *do* believe that there are most certainly health considerations involved with the consumption of tobacco products and that tobacco consumption is something that should only be considered as something that an adult should do. But just like other legal products with health implications, the decision involves responsibility. Generalized statements such as the ones you made are not quite accurate and do not assist in the process.

    “Certain health considerations”?

    I cannot help but think that you’re dealing with semantics here, but if it makes you feel better, I’ll amend my statement to say that “tobacco products” are designed to addict and kill you. But I won’t go farther than that.

    And I find the idea that “many of the active components of tobacco can help with all kinds of maladies, from cancer to neurological issues.” Maybe that’s because I watched my mother - a 40-year, two-pack-a-day smoker – die of multiple cancers that I firmly believed were related to some of the active components in the poisons sold by tobacco companies.

    However, as always when bringing this up, I admit a bias. But I continue to believe that there is a special corner of hell reserved for the people who continue to sell these products.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 10, 2008

    For the first time in almost a year, you are not seeing a tile ad and DrumBeat sponsored by Pro-Health Potatoes here on MorningNewsBeat.

    The company pulled its sponsorship last week. But while that might be bad news in some circles, the reason that Pro-Health pulled its ads was because it has as much business as it can handle, and needs a few months to catch up before taking on any new customers. And at least part of the reason, according to the company, is that MorningNewsBeat’s readership responded to its ads in enormous numbers. (It also helps that Pro-Health has a terrific product, which made it the “official potato” of MorningNewsBeat.)

    So I want to thank you for turning Pro-Health into a former least for the moment. The folks at Pro-Health assure me that they’ll be back soon...once they catch their collective breath.


    Kevin Coupe
    “Content Guy”

    KC's View: