By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Public Affairs Director

Durbin Calls Out FDA Commissioner

In a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) shared harsh criticism for the agency’s lack of attention to the youth smoking epidemic. His letter from May 29, 2019, detailed efforts that the agency could be taking to curb the rise in youth tobacco use. The smoking cessation community, of which ONS is a palpable member, has sided with Durbin on the importance of continued FDA oversight on e-cigarettes and the vaping industry’s kid-friendly, fun-flavored tobacco products. Groups like the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids have been forceful in comments to the agency about the need for stricter regulations on products.

Durbin says that his conversation with the newly appointed FDA commissioner was not as productive as he wanted, but it’s hard to believe that Ned Sharpless, MD—an oncologist by training and career, as well as the former National Cancer Institute director—would be anything less than committed to curtailing underage smoking. ONS and other advocacy groups support Durbin’s platform to encourage stricter oversight for tobacco and e-cigarette products.

Is Medicare for All a Working Class Win?

A single-payer healthcare system is no longer a distant dream. It’s now a hotly debated and very real public policy solution to arguably the top domestic issue—affordable, national health care. Medicare for All is a lightning rod for all extremes of the political spectrum, and the majority of center-right Democrats are uncomfortable committing to the program for fear of cost issues.

Sensing hesitation, progressives have doubled down on Medicare for All in hopes of persuading working class voters that the single-payer program would be a health and financial benefit to a large swath of the American public. Swing congressional districts will be where this fight is waged, because the red seats that changed to blue in 2018 are hotly contested in 2020. Health care will remain a pivotal issue for working- and middle-class voters.

Cancer Mortality Continues to Drop

In a time that’s seen underage smoking increase because of electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products, the 2019 Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer highlighted dropping rates of cancer mortality. The report—as in most public health analysis—does contain disturbing outliers, highlighting the need for continued education and changes to meet the needs of specific populations.

“Major declines overall in cancer mortality point in the right direction, yet significant differences remain in cancer cases and deaths based on gender, ethnicity, and race,” Robert R. Redfield, MD, Center for Disease Control and Prevention director, said as he reminds us of the need for diligence. “A better understanding of these discrepancies improves cancer diagnosis and recovery for all patients and is vital to our public health mission.”