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Hiring Smokers Banned In South Florida City 1199

Penurious Penguin writes "On October 2, City Commissioners of Delray Beach finalized a policy which prohibits agencies from hiring employees who use tobacco products. Delray Beach isn't alone though; other Florida cities such as Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, require prospective employees to sign affidavits declaring themselves tobacco-free for 12 months prior to the date of application. Throughout the states, both government and businesses are moving to ban tobacco-use beyond working hours. Many medical facilities, e.g. hospitals, have implemented or intend to implement similar policies. In some more-aggressive environments referred to as nicotine-free, employee urine-samples can be taken and tested for any presence of nicotine, not excluding that from gum or patches. Employees testing positive can be terminated. Times do change, and adaptation is often a necessary burden. But have they changed so much that we'd now postpone the Manhattan project for 12 months because Oppenheimer had toked his pipe? Would we confine our vision to the Milky Way or snub the 1373 Cincinnati because Hubble smoked his? Would we shun relativity, or shelve the works of Tolkien because he and C. S. Lewis had done the same? If so, then where will it stop?"

California City May Tax Sugary Drinks Like Cigarettes 842

Hugh Pickens writes "Voters in Richmond, California are set to decide in November whether to make the Bay Area city the nation's first municipality to tax soda and other sugary beverages to help fight childhood obesity. The penny-per-ounce tax, projected to raise between $2 million and $8 million, would go to soccer fields, school gardens and programs to treat diabetes and fight obesity. Councilman Jeff Ritterman, a doctor who proposed the measure, says soda is a prime culprit behind high childhood obesity rates in Richmond, where nearly 20 percent of residents live below the poverty line. 'If you look at where most of our added sugar is coming, it's coming from the sugar-sweetened beverages,' says Ritterman. 'It's actually a poison for you, because your liver can't handle that huge amount of fructose.' Not everyone is pleased by the proposed license fee on businesses selling sweetened drinks. It would require owners of bodegas, theaters, convenience stores and other outlets to tally ounces sold and, presumably, pass the cost on to customers. Soda taxes have failed elsewhere — most notably in Philadelphia, where Mayor Michael A. Nutter's attempts to impose a 2-cents-per-ounce charge on sugary drinks have sputtered twice. However, Dr. Bibbins-Domingo says similar taxes on cigarettes have had a dramatic effect on public health. 'It was a few decades ago when we had high rates of tobacco and we had high rates of tobacco-related illnesses. Those measures really turned the tide and really led to lower rates of tobacco across the country.'"

Caffeinated Alcoholic Drinks May Be Illegal 398

Anonymusing writes "The FDA has announced an investigation into the safety and legality of alcoholic beverages containing caffeine. As a Wall Street Journal blog reports, two major beer companies, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, stopped producing caffeinated alcoholic drinks last year after reports surfaced of increased negative effects compared to caffeine-free alcohol. CNN notes that, according to FDA rules, 'food additives require premarket approval based on data demonstrating safety submitted to the agency' — and caffeine is a food additive. The 26 targeted beverage makers have 30 days to respond."

The Fresca Rebellion 776

theodp writes "They can ban the Marlboros, tax the Cokes, and zone the Whoppers, says Slate's William Saletan on the subject of today's morality cops. But it's time to put the brakes on the paternalistic overreaching of the food police, Saletan argues, when they come after his editor's beloved Fresca ('there are concerns that diet beverages may increase calorie consumption by justifying consumption of other caloric foods'), which will have to be pried from his cold, dead hands. '40 states have enacted special taxes on soda or junk food. And the soda taxers are becoming ever bolder. Their latest manifesto is an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, co-authored by the health commissioner of New York City, the surgeon general of Arkansas, and several others. It declares soda fair game for government intervention (PDF) on the grounds that "market failures" in this area are causing "less-than-optimal production and consumption."' Where do we draw the line?"

"Survey says..." -- Richard Dawson, weenie, on "Family Feud"