A cloud of suspicion hanging over Volkswagen thickened, reports The New York Times, after a lawyer for a jailed former engineer said his client implicated top managers of the German carmaker’s Audi luxury brand in a continuing diesel cheating scandal. Statements and evidence provided to German investigators by the former head of thermodynamics in Audi’s engine development department suggest that knowledge of emissions fraud reached higher in the ranks of management than Volkswagen has admitted. No members of the company’s management board have been charged, although investigations are continuing.
More Americans are drinking high amounts of alcohol, and the greatest increases are seen among women and older adults, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry. In the new report, researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism compared two large studies of people who self-reported their drinking habits. The first was a study of more than 43,000 adults from 2001-2002, and the second included more than 36,000 adults from 2012-2013. A previous study had shown that between 1971 and 2011, alcohol advertising in the U.S. increased more than 400 percent. The author of the earlier study concluded that since overall per capita consumption of alcohol had not increased in that time, advertising did not affect drinking rates. The new study raises the question as to whether increased advertising has a distinct influence on populations at risk of heavy drinking.
The Food and Drug Administration has filed court papers in support of an effort to overturn a New York City law requiring calorie counts to be posted by certain establishments, reports The New York Times, at least the second time the Trump administration has inserted itself into a local case. The plaintiffs have asked a judge to grant an injunction to keep the city from enforcing the law, which it plans to start doing on August 21. In response, New York City Health Commissioner Mary Bassett observed, “The F.D.A. has taken the position that chains can stop providing customers with critical nutrition information. Poor nutrition is fueling an epidemic of chronic diseases, and this basic information should be accessible and transparent to all.”
People who have been harmed by inadequate regulatory protections shared their tragic stories at a press conference at the Economic Policy Institute last week. The event was sponsored by the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards, an alliance of more than 150 organizations. The coalition and speakers called on Congress to reject the Regulatory Accountability Act (S. 951), which would shut down our system of public protections. From dangerous cars to unsafe food to harmful consumer products, these heartbreaking and emotional stories illustrate the far-reaching impact of the corporate-backed deregulatory agenda pushed by Congress and the White House by showing how it affects the lives of workers, consumers and families. Watch the event here.
The European Environment Agency estimates that 75,000 Europeans died prematurely as a result of nitrogen oxide poisoning in 2012 – among them 22,000 in Italy, 14,000 in Great Britain and 10,000 in Germany. In an attempt to protect the health of EU citizens, nitrogen oxide emissions limits have been established across Europe. Since 2010, that limit has been set at an annual maximum of 40 micrograms of NOx per cubic meter. Beyond that, all automobiles produced after January 2000 have been required to meet NOx emission reduction standards. Yet automakers have shamelessly flouted such emissions and health protection standards, reports Gears of Biz, a technology newsletter. Automobiles were equipped with software designed to trick laboratory ratings tests, and in normal driving conditions emissions far exceeded legal limits. A 1,500-euro ($1,750) fix could save thousands of lives – but carmakers are unwilling to pay.
Faced with competition, some pharmaceutical companies are cutting deals with insurance companies to favor their brand-name products over cheaper generics, reports Pro Publica and The New York Times. Insurers pay less, but sometimes consumers pay more. Out of public view, corporations are cutting deals that give consumers little choice but to buy brand-name drugs — and sometimes pay more at the pharmacy counter than they would for generics. The practice is not easy to track, and has been going on sporadically for years. But several clues suggest it is becoming more common.
Growing literature documents news media representation of alcohol-related issues. However, current scholarship has neglected critical political economic frameworks to interpret media coverage of alcohol. The case of Ireland from 2012 to 2017 illustrates the authors’ proposed framework empirically. Four main newspapers’ coverage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and related policies are examined. The authors conclude that the media reflect the views of the political and economic establishment on public health measures: there is some support from the medical professions and progressive politicians, but overall, there is a clear reluctance to support strong public health strategies.
Citation: Mercille J. Media Coverage of Alcohol Issues: A Critical Political Economy Framework-A Case Study from Ireland. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(6).