Consumer Health Digest #12-42

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 29, 2012

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

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Judge orders corrective tobacco ads. A federal judge has ordered eight tobacco companies to publish statements which admit that they "deliberately deceived the American public" about smoking's harmful effects. The order calls for five categories of statements based on the court's findings: (a) a lengthy list of adverse health effects, (b) addictiveness of smoking and nicotine, (c) lack of significant health benefit from smoking "low tar," "light," "mild," and "natural" cigarettes, (d) cigarette design and content were manipulated to make them more addictive, and (e) adverse effects of secondhand smoke. The lawsuit, filed in 1999 by the U.S. Justice department, alleged that the companies had engaged in a pattern of deception for more than 50 years. In 2006, in a 1,682-page opinion, the judge agreed and said she would require the companies to pay for corrective advertising. This week's order spelled out what the notices must say. The defendants have not yet indicated whether they plan to appeal.

Suit attacks "conversion therapy" providers. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit accusing a New Jersey organization of consumer fraud for offering conversion therapy services with false claims. [SPLC files groundbreaking lawsuit accusing conversion therapy organization of fraud. SPLC news release, Nov 27, 2012] The suit, brought in state court by four former clients and two of their parents, alleges that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its founder Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey's Consumer Fraud Act by claiming to cure clients of being gay. The complaint states:

Thermography under attack. Health Canada is advising Canadians that no thermography (thermal imaging) machines have been approved to screen for breast cancer in Canada. In a news release, the agency noted:

Health ministers in at least two Canadian provinces have issued cease-and-desist orders to clinics. [Clinics ordered to stop 'useless' breast cancer tests. CBC News, Nov 27, 2012] Australian agencies are also warning consumers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters but has failed to take further action against continuing violators.

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This page was posted on November 29, 2012.