Zipping Onward

This series of “zipping” posts summarizes all the articles that explore the intersections between alcohol, tobacco, food, and threats to the public good. The other purpose is to elaborate on some ideas. “More About Mechanical Enablers,” for example, takes a deeper look at one piece of the healthful-eating puzzle that had been mentioned briefly in those archives.

“Fortunes Up for Grabs” looks at the sad fact that raising taxes mainly enriches shareholders. There is for instance the coat-tail strategy. When the cigarette tax goes up, knowing that the mathematically inept public expects to pay more, the corporations tuck a few extra percentage points into the profit column. When food is “sin taxed,” any hanky-panky that goes on in other “sin taxable” businesses can be expected to show up in the food industry. That seems to be the reality we are faced with.

“Soft Control” explores the role of vilification and ridicule in changing people’s bad habits, including the fact that blaming and shaming can backfire spectacularly.

“More Soft Control” mentions the American Medical Association’s concern about stigmatizing “low-income and other vulnerable populations of smokers,” because people who already experience disempowerment tend to feel defensive and resentful when preached to by others who have not walked a mile in their shoes. Well-intentioned attempts to help can be perceived as patronizing and condescending, and very little good is accomplished.

The AMA Journal of Ethics said,

[I]t would seem important for public health campaigns to target all tobacco users, not just ethnic minorities and tobacco users of low socioeconomic status.

Any government action needs to be carefully considered from many angles. Consultation is needed with genuine experts, not political appointees and corporate shills. The path forward is booby-trapped with unintended consequences. As much as people dislike interference with their smoking and drinking habits, they really take umbrage when their eating habits are criticized.

In many cases, centuries of tradition are involved in the matter. In most cases, nobody wants a recommendation to eat a piece of fruit from the health food store that costs their entire monthly SNAP allowance.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Decreasing Smoking but Increasing Stigma? Anti-tobacco Campaigns, Public Health, and Cancer Care,”, May 2017
Photo credit: Andrew Magill on Visualhunt/CC BY

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources