I never thought I’d be writing a blog that included the NFL and Big Tobacco at the same time but, hey, social media makes for strange bedfellows.
Both obscenely rich businesses find themselves in a world of hurt due to denial, deception and delay.
Let’s kick-off with the NFL.
Did you know there are 72,000 FEWER high school students playing the sport today than just four years ago? Would you believe that outdoor track has overtaken football as the most popular high school sport?
Somewhere Jesse Owens must be smiling.
The reason why is obvious. Parents simply won’t let their sons play the vicious sport which, despite a few superficial changes to the rules by the NCAA and NFL, remains the ultimate end zone for players suffering from CTE and other debilitating brain injuries.
By the way, here’s an interesting stat that was buried in the articles I read about the slow, but steady, death of high school football: The number of girls in 11-player high school football has nearly DOUBLED in the same time frame!
The rate at which football is losing future generations of players is so acute the game may disappear completely by the year 2050 (Note: I hope the Jets can win another Super Bowl before the Lombardi Trophy ends up being sold for scrap).
Enough with football.
Let’s turn to an even deadlier pastime: smoking.
Recently the Food and Drug Administration finally stepped in to restrict all flavored e-cigarettes (also known as vapes) and is in the process of banning menthol cigarettes.
And high schoolers are once again at the heart (and, sadly, lungs) of the controversy.
The FDA’s move was driven by a just-released study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing a 78 percent increase in vaping by high school students, with 3.6 million high school and middle school students now using e-cigarettes.
Try inhaling this statistic: current e-cigarette use among high school students increased from 1.5 percent in 2011 to 20.8 percent this year! Holy smoke!
In addition to cracking down on vaping, the FDA plans to ban menthol in ALL combustible cigarettes and cigars which it says is a gateway sweetener used to entrap otherwise unsuspecting teens into a lifelong nicotine addiction.
The NAACP welcomed the ban, saying: “For decades, data have shown that the tobacco industry has successfully and intentionally marketed mentholated cigarettes to African-Americans and particularly African-American women.”
Not surprisingly, Big Tobacco is in complete denial. An Altria spokesperson said, “We continue to believe that a total ban on menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars would be an extreme measure not supported by the science and evidence.” Unreal.
The NFL and Big Tobacco can continue to deny their products lead to serious illness and death but time is slowly running out on each (at least in this country).
I can’t speak for football’s prospects in other continents, but tobacco will continue to thrive in those areas where poorly educated people of all ages are oblivious to its dangers and highly susceptible to glossy advertising.
If Big Tobacco was the name of an NFL player I’d ban him for life (for the sake of millions of future lives).