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Entries in Ban (14)

Saturday
Jul132013

Blood Drive Protests FDA Ban on Gay Donors

Gillian Mohney/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- After Marshall Duer-Balkind, 30, exited a blood donation center on Friday morning, he held up a long green form as evidence that he had been rejected as a blood donor.

On the form Duer-Balkind pointed out that section that disqualified him from being a blood donor because of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy that bans men who have sex with men from giving blood.

After Duer-Balkind showed the form to two volunteers from the National Gay Blood Drive demonstration, the volunteers pulled out a red ink pad and stamped "Rejected" on his forearm.

The stamp was proof that Duer-Balkind had taken part in a nationwide demonstration to protest the FDA policy, which pervents men who engage in homosexual sex from donating blood, since they are considered at a higher risk for having HIV.

"I think it's an absolutely ridiculous and antiquated policy," said Duer-Balkind, who had come to participate in the demonstration during a vacation in New York.

There were more than 50 demonstrations planned as part of the National Gay Blood Drive in various U.S. cities on Friday. The drive was planned to help draw attention to the number of potential blood donors who are automatically disqualified due to their sexual orientation. In addition to men who have sex with men, women are disqualified from giving blood if within the last 12 months they have had sex with a man who at any point since 1977 has had sex with another man.

At designated blood donation centers across the country, participants in the National Gay Blood Drive were tested for HIV and if they tested negative, attempted to donate blood at a blood donation center. When they were rejected due to FDA regulations, they received a stamp and turned in their HIV testing results to be sent to the FDA.

The FDA's decades-long ban stared during the AIDS crisis and restricts any man, who has had sex with another man since 1977, from donating blood.

In recent years as HIV testing has improved, the policy has come under fire for being discriminatory and outdated. In June the American Medical Association voted to oppose the ban.

The National Gay Blood Drive was organized by independent filmmaker Ryan James Yezak, 26, who was inspired to act after he was forced to explain to co-workers he could not donate blood because he was gay.

"There's a really alienating feeling," said Yezak, who is working on a documentary about discrimination based on sexual orientation. "That's the first time I felt direct anti-gay discrimination and once you feel that you can't ignore it."

Yezak said that 1,400 people have said they would attend different demonstrations. At one New York City location, there had been over 20 participants by noon.

The demonstration comes just days after the American Red Cross issued an emergency request for blood and platelet donations since June donations were down 10 percent.

Yezak said the he hopes the FDA will craft a new blood donor policy that is based on behavior associated with high HIV risk rather than just sexual orientation. He also said one step could be adopting a policy similar to other countries, such as Canada or the United Kingdom, where men who have sex with men can donate blood if they abstain from sex for a certain period of time.

In 2010 an FDA Advisory Committee on Blood Safety found that the current ban on gay men as blood donors was "suboptimal" but voted to keep the policy pending further research. The U.S. Health and Human Services is performing additional studies to see what policy revisions should be undertaken.

According to the FDA, men who have sex with men made up 61 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2010. Although HIV testing is performed on all donated blood, there are rare cases where HIV is not detected because the infection is too new. According to the FDA there is an HIV risk in 1 out of every 2 million units of donated blood.

In response to a request for comment from the FDA regarding the National Gay Blood Drive, an FDA spokesperson wrote that the "FDA's primary responsibility with regard to blood and blood products is to assure the safety of patients who receive these life-saving products … We applaud the critical contributions made by blood donors and we are sensitive to the concerns of potential donors and other individuals affected by current blood safety policies."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct042012

Student Who Got 'Gay Cure' Sues California Over New Law

Comstock/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A college student who claims he once had same-sex attractions but became heterosexual after conversion therapy has filed a lawsuit against California, which has enacted a law that bans so-called "gay cures" for minors.

The lawsuit, also joined as plaintiffs by two therapists who have used the treatments with patients, alleges that the law banning the therapy intrudes on First Amendment protections of free speech, privacy and freedom of religion.

The student, Aaron Blitzer, who is studying to be a therapist in that field, said the law would prevent him from pursuing his career, according to court papers filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

The lawsuit names as defendants California Gov. Jerry Brown, as well as 21 other state officials, including members of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the California Medical Board.

The other plaintiffs are Donald Welsch, a licensed family therapist and ordained minister who operates a Christian counseling center in San Diego; and Dr. Anthony Duk, a psychiatrist and practicing Roman Catholic.

Both say the law would restrict their counseling practices, according to the lawsuit.

"It's an egregious violation of the rights of young people feeling same-sex attraction, and of parents and counselors who feel it would be beneficial for the individual needs of a young person," said Brad Dacus, president and attorney for the conservative Pacific Justice Institute, which asked a federal judge to prevent the law from taking effect.

"The legislature had an errant assumption that every individual struggling with same-sex attraction is caused by their DNA," he said. "It ignores thousands, including the plaintiff, who have gone through therapy and are now in a happy and healthy heterosexual relationship."

Dacus declined ABC News' request for direct access to the plaintiffs.

Just this week, California lawmakers voted to outlaw therapy aimed at changing the sexual orientation of minors who say they are gay, making California the first state to adopt such legislation. The law is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2013.

The bill's sponsor, California state Sen. Ted Lieu, said the therapy -- called "conversion therapy," "sexual orientation therapy," "reparative therapy" or "sexual orientation change efforts" -- amounts to "psychological child abuse."

"I read the lawsuit and, as a matter of fiction, it is a good read," Lieu said in a prepared statement after the suit was filed. "But from any reasonable legal standard, the lawsuit is frivolous. Under the plaintiffs' argument, the First Amendment would shield therapists and psychiatrists from medical malpractice and psychological abuse claims simply because they use speech in practicing their medicine. That is a novel and frivolous view of the First Amendment."

Lieu is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Several members of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences and the California Mental Board were named in the lawsuit.

"Our board voted to support that piece of legislation after working with the author's office to further define sexual orientation change efforts," said Kim Madsen, executive officer for the sciences board, which licenses and oversees therapists.

She had no comment on the lawsuit, but said the board would investigate any complaints of conversion therapy after Jan. 1.

The law's critics say that it infringes on the rights of families and therapists, particularly young people who have same-sex attractions as a result of being victims of sexual abuse.

Dacus said the law makes them "victims twice, as a result denying them counseling and healing."

He said that counseling in "direct violation" of religious or personal beliefs "only precipitates greater confusion and depression and the likelihood of suicide."

"This legislation is a classic example of psychiatric ignorance combined with political neglect," he said, complaining of "compromises" that members of the California Psychiatric Association made with state legislators to enact the law.

"They clearly say that one size fits all and ignore the complexity of same-sex attraction and varying degrees of such attraction, depending on age and background," said Dacus. "It's out of place for the legislature to put such restrictions on it."

Members of the California Psychiatric Association have "mixed feelings" about the law, according to Randal Hagar, director of government relations for the organization.

"There is no psychiatrist who would engage and practice it and, if they did, they would be subject to ethical sanctions," he said.

The American Psychiatric Association has outlawed conversion therapies for more than a decade, insisting they are harmful.

On the other hand, said Hagar, the CPA is concerned about any bill that "basically prescribes any kind of treatment" or one that might lead "downstream" to someone legislating against another practice "they don't like."

"The difference here is that there is a very strong public policy argument that says why this practice ought to be limited," he said. "There is no evidence it does what it purports to be. It is, in essence, fraud ... and there is other evidence that it does harm. It concerns us greatly."

The CPA negotiated for months with legislators to hone language on the bill so that therapists could address "legitimate" talks on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, according to Hagar.

"We were wary of a form of the bill where they can't possibly engage in a discussion," said Hagar, who noted that the association supported the final version of the bill.

They also leaned on another precedent: Electroconvulsive shock therapy is highly regulated with judicial oversight.

"You can't give it to minors -- period," he said.

"I think the bill is clear and clean and did have a definition of supportive exploratory therapy that leads [minors with same-sex attractions] to be accepting and see themselves as a person of strength rather than a flawed person," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb012012

British Ban Airbrushed Rachel Weisz Skincare Ad

Michael Tran/FilmMagic(LONDON) -- British regulators have banned a L’Oreal Revitalift skincare ad featuring an airbrushed close-up of Oscar-winning actress Rachel Weisz for exaggerating the product’s age-fighting effects on a woman’s complexion.

The Advertising Standards Authority ruled Wednesday that a two-page ad for L’Oreal Revitalift Repair 10, which ran in September 2011, cannot reappear “in its current form” because the black-and-white image of Weisz misrepresented what the product could do for a woman’s skin. The English beauty, variously reported to be 40 or 41, took home an Academy Award for her role in the 2005 film The Constant Gardener.

In a ruling against the world’s largest cosmetics company, the agency said it took into consideration “that consumers were likely to expect a degree of glamour in images for beauty products” and that advertisers would be “keen to present their products in their most positive light using techniques such as post-production enhancement and the re-touching of images.”

The agency called that approach “acceptable so long as the resulting effect was not one which misleadingly exaggerated the effect that the product was capable of achieving.”

“Although we considered that the image in the ad did not misrepresent the luminosity or wrinkling of Rachel Weisz’s face, we considered that the image had been altered in a way that substantially changed her complexion to make it appear smoother and more even,” the authority wrote.

The ruling came in response to a complaint filed by Jo Swinson, a Scottish member of Parliament and co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence. Swinson, a former marketing manager, chairs a Parliamentary inquiry into causes and consequences of body image anxiety. She has succeeded with other complaints about misleading ads for cosmetics brands owned by L’Oreal. Last July, the ASA banned ads for Lancome’s Teint Miracle foundation featuring actress Julia Roberts and for Maybelline’s The Eraser foundation featuring supermodel Christy Turlington.

L’Oreal stands by the effectiveness of its product. It issued the following statement, as reported by MSNBC: “We believe that the image in the advertisement is a true representation of Rachel Weisz. The product claims are based on extensive scientific research which proved that the product improves 10 different signs of skin aging. We therefore do not believe that the ad exaggerates the effect that can be achieved using this product.”

In another ruling Wednesday, the ASA rejected complaints that a L’Oreal moisturizer ad featuring film legend Jane Fonda had been “significantly modified.” Fonda, 74, who has appeared in an ad for L’Oreal Paris Age Re-Perfect Pro Calcium, in 2010 admitted undergoing “work” on her eyes, chin and neck, and reportedly had undergone an earlier facelift. She made a dazzling appearance as a presenter at this year’s Golden Globes awards, drawing wows from actor-director George Clooney, who said: “My God, she looked great, didn’t she?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec132011

Schools Consider Putting Junk Food Back Into Vending Machines

Fuse/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Many school districts around the country are pulling vending machines out and putting healthier food in.  But schools in Seattle are thinking about doing the opposite.

Vending machines can mean big money -- for every bag of Doritos or pack of Skittles a kid buys on campus, the school gets a cut of it.  Now the school board in Seattle is considering relaxing its ban on unhealthy food because it is costing student governments hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Current rules in Seattle are stricter than federal guidelines, allowing only milk, fruit juice, baked chips, and oat-based granola bars.

Soon some junk food could be allowed back in.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov082011

Kids Still Slurping Down Sodas

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Sugary soda doesn't do a body much good, but neither do rules that ban their consumption from schools, a new study has found.

In an effort to combat childhood obesity, 14 states in 2009-2010 banned soda from vending machines in schools, while 19 states prohibited students from buying these soft drinks on lunch lines.  About 25 states do not limit the kinds of drinks youngsters purchase in school.

While kids were consuming less soda in states that banned their purchase, 30 percent of middle-school kids still managed to drink sports and fruit beverages that contain high amounts of sugar, about the same percentage as those in states without soda-free policies.

The report, released by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, also revealed that students still drank sugar-sweetened beverages outside of schools that banned them, a finding that indicates more has to be done to educate parents about the drawbacks of kids downing sodas, sports drinks and fruit juices.

It's believed that adolescents get about 13 percent of their daily caloric intake from these drinks, which can lead to weight gain and serious conditions such as diabetes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct102011

California Bans Tanning Beds for Minors

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) -- A new California law that prohibits anyone younger than 18 from using tanning beds drew praise from health organizations when it was signed this weekend.

The law, signed on Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown, takes effect Jan. 1.  Currently, California law permits teenagers who are between 14 and 17 to use the beds provided they have parental consent.

The American Academy of Dermatology expressed support for the law in a statement, noting that previous research has shown that people who have used indoor tanning are at 75 percent higher risk for melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.  Indoor tanning also raises the risk of other types of skin cancer.

“The American Academy of Dermatology Association applauds the state of California for being the first in the nation to prohibit the use of indoor tanning devices for all children and adolescents under the age of 18 -- the most restrictive law in the country,” Dr. Ronald L. Moy, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association, said in the statement.  “We commend Gov. Brown, Sen. Ted Lieu and the other members of the California legislature for their efforts to help reduce the future incidence of skin cancer by protecting youth from the dangers of indoor tanning.”

Other professional organizations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, have expressed support for similar laws.  In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, placed tanning beds in its Class 1 carcinogen category.  Cigarettes, plutonium and ultraviolet radiation from the sun are in the same category.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun012011

Should Government Crack Down on Hookah Lounges?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW HAVEN, Conn.) -- Jeff Burt has always enjoyed the smoothness and fruity flavors of a hookah's smoke. The 28-year-old has smoked shisha -- a flavored tobacco -- for several years in social settings with friends, but it's only in recent months that Burt has worried that his hookah consumption, usually combined with cigarettes and alcohol during a night out, is taking a toll on his body.

"I have been feeling worse and worse after I go out, drink a lot and smoke cigarettes and hookah, so I've been trying to cut down on the amount of that type of stuff I've been doing," said Burt.

Now, other hookah lovers may have to cut back on their shisha consumption, too, whether they want to or not. State lawmakers in Oregon, Connecticut and California are proposing to ban or limit hookah bars because of the health hazards associated with the smoking.

Rep. Carolyn Tomei, an Oregon state representative who sponsored a bill to limit new hookah lounges in Oregon, said her biggest concern is the health risk to young people.

"It's mostly very young people in hookah bars and that's who they appeal to," said Tomei. "Someone middle-aged doesn't start smoking; new smokers are young people. And most young people aren't aware of how dangerous it is."

Jack Henningfield, a drug and tobacco addiction expert at Johns Hopkins Medical Institution and a member of the World Health Organization Tobacco Product Regulation Study Group, agreed with Tomei, and said that even recreational use could turn into addiction.

"Proponents tend to describe infrequent use, but then that is how cigarette addiction and other disease typically start," said Henningfield. "Similar to cigarette smoking, many people escalate to more frequent use and higher levels of intake."

The Eastern Mediterranean device, which has been used in the region for several hundred years, has become a rising trend in the United States, particularly among young adults. Many people smoke shisha, because they believe it is a milder and safer alternative to smoking cigarettes, but experts say the truth is that it's as dangerous-- maybe even more -- than lighting up a cigarette.

A 2009 study conducted by Thomas Eissenberg, a professor of biopsychology and health psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, found that relative to cigarette smoking, hookah use is associated with greater carbon monoxide, nicotine and smoke exposure.

"People are inhaling charcoal smoke and the combustion product of sugar and flavoring, along with tobacco smoke," said Eissenberg. "Smoke from a hookah and cigarettes have the same poisons."

The tobacco is heated by charcoal. The water in the hookah then cools the smoke before it hits one's mouth, so inhaling the usually fruity-flavored smoke is much smoother than a cigarette. Because of this, many people who partake in the hookah believe that the water acts as a filter to the tobacco toxins, but experts say this is untrue.

Smoking from a hookah during a typical 45-minute session is equivalent to smoking about 100 cigarettes, Eissenberg said.

Moreover, hookah tobacco packages are usually labeled to contain .05 percent of nicotine and 0 percent tar.

"Many hookah lounge owners will say, 'Look, it doesn't have tar' and they'll point to the tobacco package," said Eissenberg. "The box is right, just as a cigarette does not contain tar. You have to burn tobacco to produce tar."

"There is a great deal of tar in hookah smoke," continued Eissenberg. "A person gets about 36 times the amount of tar in a hookah session compared to a cigarette."

Akhil, owner of La Sheesh Hookah Lounge in New Haven, Conn., declined to give his last name, but said he is happy to oblige any regulation that Connecticut lawmakers put into place. But Akhil did note that banning hookah lounges is different than the ban on smoking in public places.

"It's different in a hookah lounge, because a person's intentions are to go to smoke, which is different going to a bar or restaurant, where you could be exposed unfairly to a health hazard," said Akhil. "It's different if you know you're going to a place to smoke out of a hookah."

And as for frequenters of hookah lounges, the sudden ban or limitation to the popular bars may cause protest.

"The public can make their own decision about if they would like to smoke a hookah at a lounge," said Burt. "Hookah lounges are designated bars specifically targeted to people who like to smoke hookah. If you don't like smoking hookah, why would you enter a hookah bar?"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

NYC Smoking Ban in Parks, Beaches Goes Into Effect

AbleStock [dot] com/Hemera Technologies(NEW YORK) -- For a city that seems to thrive on excess, there is one area where New York is coming up short: ashtrays.

As of Monday, all public parks, beaches and pedestrian plazas will be smoke-free, enforced by fines that range from $50 to $250.

With bars and restaurants already giving them the brush, places like Central Park, Times Square plaza, and Coney Island's boardwalk will join the list of places that no longer welcome smokers to sit back and light up.

Following the lead of Los Angeles and Chicago, New York City is now the largest metropolitan area to attempt to cut down on the amount of second-hand smoke by enacting smoke-free laws for open areas.

It is the latest victory for advocates of smoke-free environments as more local and state governments explore the possibility of expanding their anti-smoking legislation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 states have smoking bans for worksites, restaurants, and bars -- and an additional five states ban smoking in at least two of those areas.  The remaining states are dotted with local and municipal laws prohibiting people from lighting up at work, near hospitals, or at bars and restaurants.

As a whole, most of the states with the strictest laws are north of the Mason-Dixon line, along with the Southwest.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the largest numbers of smokers live in areas where the laws are not as stringent on smoking.

Based on data from the National Cancer Institute and the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Lung Association monitors each state's legislative efforts to determine whether it's making the grade in non-smoking initiatives.  Across the country, including Puerto Rico, the ALA has awarded 24 states and the District of Columbia the highest marks, while more than 25 percent of the country is considered below average in promoting and regulating smoke-free surroundings.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

UK Teen Tanning Bed Ban: Coming to America?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The bronzed cast of MTV's The Jersey Shore might not be amused. England and Wales have banned the use of tanning booths for those under 18 years of age, enforcing it with a fine up to $32,000.

This follows studies that have discovered that the rate of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has tripled in the UK for those under the age of 35 since the seventies. On this side of the Atlantic, more than 30 states have laws restricting minors' access to indoor tanning beds. Still, on an average day, more than one million Americans use tanning salons.

A study published in March in the American Journal of Public Health surveyed 6,000 teenagers ages 14 to 17 over a one-year period about their tanning habits. Researchers found that 17.1 percent of girls and 3.2 percent of boys used indoor tanning within that year. The study also showed that the same number of teens went tanning in states with laws that have age restrictions or require parental consent. Older teenage girls hit the tanning booths the most often.

In the summer of 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization (WHO), placed tanning beds in its Class 1 carcinogen category, the same classification given to cigarettes, plutonium and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps in the United States may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared with the dose they receive from sun exposure.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, over the past 31 years, more people have contracted skin cancer than all other cancers combined.

A ban might help parents who are trying to keep their kids off the tanning beds. Penny Casassa of New Jersey told ABC News, "Yes [they should enforce a ban here], then my daughter would not use those stupid tanning beds!"

Some in the U.K. aren't keen about their tanning law.

"I personally think it would be better to educate people at schools instead of enforcing a ban," London resident Hattie Murray told us. "People will always use fake IDs, etc. to get around laws."

Others agree with the new law. Noemie Deed, another England resident, told ABC News, "I think it's a good idea. Although it may not stop teenagers from using sunbeds, it is a good step in encouraging the options of spray tans/tanning lotions etc. I do agree, however, that teenagers need to be better educated on the dangers of sunbeds."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Mar232011

Study Finds Mentholated Cigarettes No More Harmful than Regular Cigarettes

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock (NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The FDA banned all fruit-flavored cigarettes in September of 2009 and is now considering a ban on menthol-flavored ones, which were not included in the 2009 ban.  The impetus for the ban was the idea that flavored cigarettes are more enticing to children. 

But are they more dangerous? A new study suggests that smokers of mentholated cigarettes are no more likely to develop lung cancer than other smokers.

Over 85,000 adults were categorized according to their preference for menthol versus non-menthol cigarettes. They were then followed for up to four years, during which time their rates of quitting and lung cancer were assessed. 

Researchers reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that menthol smokers claimed to have fewer cigarettes per day compared to regular smokers. While smoking any kind of cigarette is unhealthy, the lung cancer risk for menthol smokers was 12 times greater than that for non-smokers.  However, non-menthol smokers had a lung cancer risk 21 times that of non-smokers. 

The authors concluded that smoking menthol cigarettes is no more likely, and perhaps even less likely, to cause lung cancer than smoking regular cigarettes.
 
Critics of the study say that the fact remains that the bigger issue is whether flavoring cigarettes increases the appeal to children.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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