Healthcare is Sick

Is there a cure?

Good Drugs/ Bad Drugs: Who decides?

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[I interviewed Sally Linowski, Director of the Center for Health Promotion in University Health Services.  Listen to the portion of the interview that corresponds to this blog post here.]

What should determine how different drugs are viewed by our esteemed public representatives in Washington?

Based on health care spending, alcohol and tobacco should be hated.  Alcohol causes $175.9 billion in spending annually, smoking $137 billion, while all other drugs account for $114.2 billion.

Death tolls reach the same conclusion, as tobacco is responsible for 435,000 lives a year and alcohol 85,000, while all other illicit drugs combined cause 17,000 deaths (it should also be noted marijuana causes zero deaths).

Unfortunately for the constituents they claim to be representing, congress cares a lot more about money than the above stats.  The alcohol and drug lobbies have contributed a combined $161,377,999 to political campaigns since 1990, and in return these industries are protected from harsh government regulation.

This began to change in June when congress passed a law that created new regulations on the tobacco industry, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated will reduce youth smoking by eleven percent over the next decade and adult smoking by 2 percent.

Although the bill isn’t perfect its definitely progress, as a bill proposing tougher regulations 11 years ago was defeated by three votes in the senate- after a $40 million lobbying blitz led by Phillip Morris.

Yet people’s priorities about drugs remain misplaced, according to Sally Linowski, Director of the Center for Health Promotion in University Health Services.  Concern is highest over “illicit” drugs, while the deadliest and most expensive drugs are accepted as a fact of life.

“America does the “war on drugs” because people are afraid of drugs,” she said.  “We think of drug addicts and people dealing crack in back alleys… but it’s a distraction from what is really causing a lot of harm, which is alcohol and tobacco.”


Written by Chris Russell

October 28, 2009 at 4:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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