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Brainstorm Health: Big Tobacco’s TV Return, EMA in Amsterdam, Dog Owner Heart Health

November 21, 2017, 7:26 PM UTC

Hello, readers! This is Sy.

Courts ruled 11 years ago that big tobacco companies had misled the general public about the health effects of smoking—and that they should pay a price for it. That price didn’t end up being a direct fine; but tobacco firms were told to issue “corrective statements” in marketing materials—including television ads—to make up for the dubious claims they issued over decades. And the effort will finally launch this weekend with anti-smoking ad campaigns funded by industry giants like Philip Morris USA owner Altria Group and Reynolds, reports the Associated Press.

Tobacco manufacturers once had relatively free reign on the airwaves before being banned from television and radio advertising in 1970 when President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act into law. (This followed the landmark 1964 U.S. Surgeon General report prominently highlighting the health dangers of smoking.)

The fact that companies that make products like Marlboro and Camel cigarettes are now paying for campaigns discouraging their use may seem like karmic irony. But some critics argue that it’s too little, too late—especially considering that the anti-smoking advertising effort is focused on more old-school media like network television and newspapers. Those may not be the best avenues to reach the population at highest risk of becoming lifelong smokers: Young people who get hooked early.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


A cell-modifying tech for relapsed leukemia patients. Stanford researchers have been working on a new form of cell-modifying cancer treatment that may prove promising for leukemia patients who have relapsed. This is a part of the new field of cell therapies which involves taking out patients' immune cells to program them to become cancer killers; but the new research centers on targeting a different kind of biological marker which may open up the underlying treatment platform to more patients.


European drug regulator to move to Amsterdam after Brexit. The European Medicines Agency (pretty much the EU's version of the Food and Drug Administration) is leaving its 20-year-plus home of London for Amsterdam. The reason? Brexit. (Milan was the other contender for the EMA after the U.K's decision to leave the EU.) (Science)


Is owning a dog good for your heart? In one of those "sounds too-good-to-be-true" studies, new data from Swedish scientists suggests that owning a dog is associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease (with the inevitable caveat that correlation isn't the same thing as causation). Organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) have previously suggested similar links; the problem is, it's hard to accumulate accurate data on both pet ownership and health records in an observational study. (NPR)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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