House to consider gun-purchase age, bump-stock ban and more

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — An Illinois House committee will consider firearms legislation Tuesday in answer to the Parkland, Florida massacre two weeks ago. The Judiciary-Criminal Committee has scheduled votes on five measures. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is scheduled to testify in favor of legislation to prohibit sales of high-capacity ammunition feeders or using body armor in committing a crime. Other proposals would prohibit the sale of assault-style weapons to anyone younger than 21 and ban the sale of bump stocks allowing assault-style weapons to be fired more quickly. Others would intensify mental health screening of gun buyers and require a 72-hour cooling off period for purchasing assault-style weapons if they remain legal. Cardinal Blase Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago will urge lawmakers Wednesday to take action to reduce gun violence. Check out our Crossing the Line series here: Crossing the Line — Online Dating Safety Crossing the line separating Indiana and Illinois sometimes means dealing with different laws and customs. Readers are asked to share ideas for this weekly feature. This week: Online dating safety.It's always difficult to know for sure whether an online dating profile matches a real person genuinely interested in meeting others, or perhaps is linked to a scammer — or worse.According to a new study by and Safewise, hooking up with Hoosiers online is relatively safer than connecting in Illinois.The analysis ranked states based on their per capita violent crime rates, cybercrime rates and the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases.Indiana was deemed the 27th safest state for online dating. Illinois came in 37th out of the 50 states.The report said the five safest states for online dating are Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Idaho and Utah.Alaska was rated the most dangerous state for online dating, followed by New Mexico, Louisiana, Nevada and Arkansas. Crossing the Line Continue Reading

There’s More to Philip Morris International’s No-Smoking Resolution Than Quitting Cigarettes

Philip Morris International (NYSE: PM) took out full-page ads in several U.K. newspapers on New Year's Day declaring that its resolution for the year was to try to give up cigarettes. Saying it is known for its cigarettes, it admits the best action people can take for their own health is to quit smoking them. For a global tobacco giant that generates $75 billion annually in sales and $11 billion in profits from selling cigarettes, that's a bit of a dramatic declaration. And of course there's more than some altruistic imperative driving Philip Morris. Rather, it's acknowledging that its cigarette business is going away. Image source: Getty Images. Stubbing out cigarettes Worldwide cigarette shipment volumes fell over 7% over the first three quarters of 2017 for Philip Morris, while Reynolds American, before being acquired by British American Tobacco (NYSE: BTI), had said its U.S. shipment volumes were down almost 4% through June, while industry volumes were off 3%. The world is already moving toward smoking less, and Philip Morris International sees the writing on the wall. So it is getting ahead of the curve by trying to hurry up the process of getting people to quit. But instead of going cold turkey, the tobacco giant is seeking to have them transition to a different tobacco product -- electronic cigarettes, which are at least nominally safer. And now's the right time. Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies have invested billions of dollars in technology that can making smoking a safer pursuit for millions of people. The heat-not-burn devices that it and British American Tobacco are pursuing are being used in many countries around the globe. Philip Morris has ramped up production to produce billions of units annually, and in Japan where they were first introduced, shipments of the iQOS device surpassed those of combustible cigarettes for the first time ever in the third quarter, accounting for about 40% of Philip Morris' total shipments Continue Reading

Drinks, ’cue and golf: At Bushwood C.C., you’ll get everything and like it

By Chuck Blount Updated 10:13 am, Monday, December 18, 2017 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-25', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 25', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-30', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 30', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-35', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 35', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-40', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 40', target_type: 'mix' }); Continue Reading

‘The Walking Dead’ Season 6, Episode 2 Recap: The Alexandrians must learn to ‘JSS’ (just survive somehow) in face of attack

So what was happening back in Alexandria while Rick and many of the community's strongest fighters were trying to lure tens of thousands of zombies away from their walls? The Wolves attacked in a nail-biting episode that finally brought the sheltered suburban sanctuary up-to-speed with grave new world Outside — and also gave Carol the long-overdue chance to go full Rambo again. But before all of that, we open with the powerful backstory of Enid, the teen who appears to be in a Team Ron/Team Carl love triangle with the last two boys with 1D hair in the apocalypse. Her parents are trying to hotwire an SUV next to a crumbling stone wall as the jittery teen watches out for walkers. Two zombies round a bend up ahead, which the parents calmly disregard as they focus on trying to start the car — but then they're surprised by more walkers from behind. Enid starts to shriek, and we cut jerkily to the gory aftermath: Enid looking through blood-streaked windows at a walker eating the remains of her parents. We get a silent montage of the girl learning to survive on her own and becoming the self-assured loner that we're familiar with in Alexandria — complete with her tearing a turtle's head off and eating it raw. (I wonder if eating gross things is a rite of passage for "The Walking Dead" cast — Daryl gnawing on bugs, Rick gnawing on human necks, etc.) She repeatedly scrawls the letters JSS — in the dirt, on the dusty window of an abandoned car, with turtle bones, on the grime caking her hands — but we won't learn what the letters stand for until her Dear John letter at the end of the episode. When she finally stumbles across Alexandria, she hesitates outside the barricade — reminding me strongly of Rick and Daryl at their most feral when this group first arrived — and turns her back on the chatter and the laughter wafting over the walls. She ultimately decides to go in, but you get the feeling she's not Continue Reading

Smoking rate inching back up in NYC; 16.1% now identify as smokers

Mike Bloomberg must be fuming. The number of adult New Yorkers who smoke, which fell for years under the anti-tobacco mayor, surpassed 1 million for the first time since 2007, the city Health Department said Monday. According to the new data, 16.1% of adults smoked last year, up from a low of 14% in 2010. The numbers are striking for a city that has led the nation in adopting anti-tobacco measures, such as banning smoking in bars, restaurants and parks. The restrictions, championed by Bloomberg when he was mayor, have since been copied by cities around the nation and the world. The rise in 2013, the last year for which data are available, occurred even as smoking rates fell across the country. However, the national rate, 18%, remains higher than it is in New York. Health officials Monday blamed the city’s smoking spike on several factors. The city’s annual tobacco control budget, which pays for anti-smoking programs and marketing campaigns, has been cut almost in half since 2009, to $7.1 million from $13.5 million. In addition, the city’s anti-tobacco efforts in recent years have not been focusing on what officials describe as the new breed of smokers — so-called casual smokers who are in their mid-20s to early 40s. Instead, the city’s efforts have been aimed largely at preventing young people from taking up the habit, and at encouraging heavy smokers to quit. “I think you are seeing a really different smoking population, and that means we need to talk to them,” said Christine Johnson Curtis, a deputy city health commissioner. Even with the increases, the smoking rate remains lower than in 2003, when Bloomberg pushed through the smoking ban in bars and restaurants. That year, 18.3% of adults smoked. After bottoming in 2010, the rate climbed to 14.8% in 2011 and to 15.5% in 2012 before surpassing 16% in Continue Reading

The faces of marijuana legalization in Delaware

If you think supporters of legalizing marijuana are all pot-smokers and hippies, think again.After winning several legislative victories over the past few years, a close-knit corps of advocates is putting its full weight behind the Holy Grail of marijuana reform: Legislation that would make Delaware the ninth state to fully legalize, regulate and tax cannabis.“We’re so close we can taste it,” said Cynthia Ferguson, executive director of the Delaware branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.How did Ferguson and her comrades get this far? By eschewing what they see as outdated clichés about tie-dyes and Cheech and Chong movies and arming themselves with arguments rooted in social justice, fiscal policy and economic development.Emboldened by polls that show broad support for legalization both in Delaware and nationwide, they are showing up in force at town hall meetings, holding rallies and lobbying events in Dover, and privately pushing lawmakers to change their minds. BACKGROUND: Read details on how the legalization law would work READ MORE: Do they have the votes? Most of them are doing all this in their spare time.Ferguson, 56, is a code enforcement administrator for the City of Wilmington.A couple times a month, she also sets off pyrotechnic displays at Frawley Stadium, where she works as a private contractor for a Pennsylvania-based fireworks company.“It’s a lot to juggle but it’s a cause I believe in,” she said of her pro-marijuana lobbying efforts. “Thankfully, we’re all in this together, which helps more than I can tell you.”Ferguson is among a handful of core activists — most of them women — working to change state laws and public attitudes about cannabis in Delaware.Collectively known as the Delaware Cannabis Policy Coalition, the group is made up of four main organizations: NORML, the Delaware Cannabis Advocacy Continue Reading

Big Tobacco back in TV viewers’ faces as FDA cuts in

Decades after the Marlboro Man strutted his stuff on the nation's airwaves, Big Tobacco is back on TV pitching new nicotine products that look like cigarettes — and some of the ads are in-your-face defiant."It's time we take our freedom back," asserts actor Stephen Dorff, oozing machismo as he says "blu e-Cigs" can be smoked "at a basketball game ... in a bar with your friends ... virtually anywhere." Inhaling with swagger, he adds: "Come on, guys, rise from the ashes."These ads for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, including new ones with former Playboy model and upcoming co-host of The View Jenny McCarthy, hark back to an era when smoking was en vogue and people could light up on airplanes, in offices and, really, wherever they liked.These suddenly chic offerings are sparking another round of the tortured tobacco wars. Each of the nation's top three tobacco companies has recently entered the booming, unregulated e-cigarette market (still only a fraction of total tobacco sales.) At the same time, more states are restricting the product, and the U.S. government is expected to announce -- as early as October -- its plan for regulation.Many Americans are experimenting with e-cigarettes. About 6% of all U.S. adults and 21% of adult smokers said they tried them in 2011, double the 2010 rate, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also found six in 10 were aware of them in 2011, up from four in 10 a year earlier.Given the product's rise in popularity, public health officials are scurrying to figure out its safety. These battery-operated devices don't contain the myriad harmful chemicals of regular cigarettes, but by heating a nicotine solution into a vapor that users inhale, they still provide the addictiveness of nicotine. So there's debate over whether they're more apt to lure kids toward tobacco or help adults kick the habit.The Food and Drug Administration will soon step into the fray. It's expected Continue Reading

LIGHTS OUT Embracing life, city firefighters enroll in a new FDNY anti-smoking program. QUITTING TIME FOR FDNY FIREFIGHTERS

The tough times for Marty Merrick - the moments when temptation looms - are when he's not working. "I had a few cigarettes that first weekend," admits Merrick, 56, a veteran of 30 years with the city Fire Department - most of them with Engine 156, Ladder 79, on Staten Island - and, until now, a pack-a-day smoker. "It's when I sit home, in front of the TV or after eating. "Taking it a day, even a minute, at a time, Merrick is the face of a new FDNY anti-smoking program, spurred in part by the dangers New York's Bravest endured on Sept. 11 and in the months that followed at Ground Zero. Like most smokers, he started young, "when I was 13, maybe 14," and living in Brooklyn. Now on light duty at the FDNY Health Bureau, he's paying the price: "I have high blood pressure, a little chest pain, some bronchitis. "All of which, unfortunately, are typical of too many firefighters. "The top causes of nontraumatic death among firemen are lung and heart disease," says Dr. David Prezant, the FDNY's deputy chief medical officer. The smoke of burning buildings increases their risk; cigarettes compound the danger. Sept. 11 made the problem worse. "Every one of those firefighters ran into the buildings, then spent weeks and months in the recovery effort," Prezant says. "They didn't think of the exposure. " No one knows what toxins they may have inhaled, "but whatever it is, if you stop smoking, you can lower the risk. " For example, smokers are 50 to 100 times more likely to get cancer after exposure to asbestos. And so, again, the Bravest are setting an example. "The elimination of tobacco is the single most important thing to do after exposure, for them and for everyone in New York," Prezant says. STRENGTH IN NUMBERSSome 2,000 city firefighters smoke. Most started young; many haven't even tried quitting, Prezant explains, because it's their job to rush into smoky places and breathe the stuff. But a study after Sept. 11 led by Prezant and his FDNY chief, Dr. Continue Reading

Put Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco execs’ guilty faces where all can see

With apologies to Jonathan Swift, I have a modest proposal of my own. Instead of the government requiring cigarette packs and cartons to feature large warning labels designed to shock, sicken and otherwise make the point that smoking can kill - a toe tag on a corpse, for instance - a photo of Louis Camilleri would do quite nicely. He is the chairman and CEO of Philip Morris International. Louis, stand up and take a bow. You, too, Richard Burrows, chairman of British American Tobacco, and Daniel Delen, CEO of R.J. Reynolds. You gentlemen should also be known and celebrated for your genius at selling a product that sickens and kills. It is not anyone who can do that - indomitably selling and marketing when your customer base is huddled in doorways or too young to realize that a puff here  and there and inevitably you are sharing a smoke with the Grim Reaper. These men do not get half the attention they deserve. I have always wondered how anyone can work in the tobacco game. It's not that the verdict has not come down: Tobacco kills. Lung cancer will take about 157,000 American lives this year - good people, nice people, people like me, in fact, who started smoking to be cool and then found themselves addicted. I still miss the stuff, the virtually sexual release from lighting up, the nicotine triggering an onset of dopamine - focusing the mind, occupying the hands, soothing, comforting, assuring. My loyal friend. My cigarettes. I fear you will betray me yet. Now those who suckered me into subsidizing a disease that might still kill me are colonizing the rest of the world. The New York Times tells us that in Indonesia, "Cigarette ads run on TV and before movies; billboards dot the highways; companies appeal to children through concerts and sports events; cartoon characters adorn packages, and stores sell to children." Indonesia collects about $2.5 billion in revenue from Philip Morris alone. There is no good reason why the people responsible for selling Continue Reading

Smoking ban takes effect in French cafes, bars and restaurants

PARIS - Smokers took advantage of a one-day grace period and savored their last cigarettes over morning coffee in cafes across France as a ban against lighting up in bars and restaurants took effect Tuesday. French officials said they would not enforce the new measure - aimed at clearing the air in France's notoriously hazy cafes, bars, restaurants and nightclubs - until Wednesday. At Cafe Au Depart in Paris, the mood was decidedly downbeat. "It's the end of a way of life," said David Fossey, 32, stubbing out a cigarette. Jean-Pierre Aiglement, 55, enjoying a cup of coffee before his shift waiting tables at the Au Depart, said he wouldn't be "chased out onto the sidewalk." "I'll smoke where I please," he said. Under the measure, smokers like Aiglement caught lighting up inside face a $93 fine, while owners who turn a blind eye to smoking in their establishments risk a $198 fine. Some say the ban will force restaurant staff into the uncomfortable role of enforcers and predict a drop in business from smokers who like to light up over coffee and drinks or after a meal. "Once they start enforcing the ban, this place will be empty," Aiglement said. With the ban, France joins the swelling ranks of European countries - including Italy, Belgium, Spain, Britain and Ireland - that already have enacted broad anti-smoking laws. Eight states in neighboring Germany also launched partial smoking bans in restaurants and bars on Tuesday. However, in few nations is smoking as much a part of national identity as it is in France. A dense haze shrouded the Left Bank cafes where celebrated thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir once held court, and there's hardly a photograph of iconic singer Serge Gainsbourg without a cigarette. About a quarter of France's 60 million people smoke. The Health Ministry said one in two regular smokers - or some 66,000 people annually - dies of smoking-related illness here, and about 5,000 nonsmokers die each year Continue Reading