health matters

Philip Morris Isn't Laughing at John Oliver’s Takedown of Big Tobacco

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 17, 2015 02:14 PM

John Oliver Jeff lung tobacco

John Oliver, the bespectacled British comedian and host of HBO’s "Last Week Tonight,” spent a good part of his show on Sunday showcasing to what ends Big Tobacco will go to keep its profits up despite continued data on the health risks involved with smoking.

Oliver highlighted lawsuits filed by Philip Morris International, the world's biggest tobacco manufacturer and parent company to brands inlcuding Marlboro, in a bid to stop plain packaging, including threatening to file against bigger countries such as Australia and smaller nations including Paraguay and Togo to keep those countries from creating any kinds of barriers from residents of the world seeing its packaging, logos, and marketing materials.

The show also introduced the character of Jeff, a diseased lung in a cowboy hat that recalled the Marlboro Man, to “help” the countries and Big Tobacco come to a compromise. As part of a mock public health campaign, the show's producers bought bus-stop ads in Togo with Jeff and also sent a load of T-shirts for distribution in the country.

In addition, Oliver encouraged viewers to use the hashtag #JeffWeCan, which has been burning up Twitter and Facebook.Continue reading...

health matters

CVS Celebrates Tobacco-Free Anniversary By Butting Out For Kids

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 6, 2015 04:45 PM

In a major Throwback Thursday this week, CVS marked the one-year anniversary of ending its sales of tobacco products. The retailer is reveling in the positive effect its efforts have had in helping Americans quit smoking, despite whatever financial hit that decision caused to its bottom line.

In addition to cutting off the sale of tobacco products, as part of its corporate rebrand to CVS in September, the company introduced a smoking-cessation program that it says has since “provided personalized counseling and smoking cessation products, when appropriate, to hundreds of thousands” of customers.

Supporting that claim, CVS released data showing that 67,000 patients have filled a first prescription for a smoking-cessation drug or nicotine-replacement therapy in that time. It's also had thousands more engagements with its customers who smoke and want to discuss how to quit. The CVS website's Smoking Cessation Hub also posted seen nearly 1 million visits through December.Continue reading...

health matters

Should BPA Be Banned? Consumers, Legislators, Brands Still Wondering

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 22, 2014 03:03 PM

No BPA logo

While Bisphenol-A (BPA) has been used to make plastic bottles, thermal papers including receipts and as a lining in canned goods for more than 40 years, mounting data about its toxic effects continues to confuse and divide opinion.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s latest safety assessment for BPA continues to greenlight its use in food packaging, although they banned it in baby bottles, sippy cups and infant formula packaging two years ago. Canada banned the substance altogether from children’s products in 2010 after declaring it toxic.

Adding support for those concerned about BPA and health, recent research from Seoul National University’s Department of Preventive Medicine which was published in Hypertension indicates potential links between BPA and blood pressure elevation.Continue reading...

health matters

Walgreens Promotes Digital Health With Wearable Tech, Virtual Doctor Visits

Posted by Dale Buss on December 9, 2014 02:02 PM

Walgreens is trying to lead retailers with its digitized approach to healthcare. America's biggest drugstore chain's strategy now includes a branded wearable fitness monitor, in-store augmented reality product locators and a new telehealth partnership to provide around-the-clock access to physicians via its mobile app.

CVS may have stolen a march on the industry competition in the realm of anti-smoking, but Walgreens has become a trailblazer in setting up a systematic network of apps and other digital itouchpoints to give customers unprecedented control over their health and wellness information, whether they're in or outside the store.

"We're absolutely focused on this area of omnichannel digital health," Adam Pellegrini, vice president of digital health for the Chicago-based chain, recently told a recent conference. "We're working every day on new ideas."Continue reading...

health matters

Walgreens Promotes Digital Health With Wearable Tech, Virtual Doctor Visits

Posted by Dale Buss on December 9, 2014 02:02 PM

Walgreens is trying to lead retailers with its digitized approach to healthcare. America's biggest drugstore chain's strategy now includes a branded wearable fitness monitor, in-store augmented reality product locators and a new telehealth partnership to provide around-the-clock access to physicians via its mobile app.

CVS may have stolen a march on the industry competition in the realm of anti-smoking, but Walgreens has become a trailblazer in setting up a systematic network of apps and other digital itouchpoints to give customers unprecedented control over their health and wellness information, whether they're in or outside the store.

"We're absolutely focused on this area of omnichannel digital health," Adam Pellegrini, vice president of digital health for the Chicago-based chain, recently told a recent conference. "We're working every day on new ideas."Continue reading...

health matters

A League of Your Own: Kobo Founder's Health App Syncs Wearable Tech Data

Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 13, 2014 11:23 AM

When U.S.-based Borders Books introduced the Kobo e-reader back in 2010, it was seen as a potential “Kindle Killer.” Borders, alas, folded the following year, but Kobo kept quietly rolling along.

Now the man who created Kobo, Michael Serbinis, is introducing a new product that he hopes will excite consumers and the medical community alike: A healthcare app and personal wellness portal called League. Having raised $4 million Canadian in seed money, League is preparing to launch early next year, according to a press release.

League can be accessed via a website and iOS and Android mobile apps, which will monitor information provided by wearable technology devices, such as FitBit's tracking of steps taken, all controlled by the user and open, if desired, to healthcare providers too. Continue reading...

health matters

Walgreens Turns Wellness Coach With Help From WebMD

Posted by Dale Buss on October 2, 2014 04:48 PM

It isn't quite the Apple app with the Mayo Clinic, or even Nike Fit, but the Walgreens pharmacy chain and digital health hub WebMD are partnering in a move aimed at helping each brand compete more effectively in the era of intense digitization of healthcare and medical and fitness advice and monitoring.

The agreement will bring WebMD's virtual wellness-coaching programs to America's largest drugstore chain and help incentivize its Balance Rewards members to practice healthy behaviors using the WebMD platform by giving them rewards points by participating in programs and tracking progress toward goals. This is a first for Walgreens loyalty program, which traditionally rewarded points based on what customers purchase, not do.

The deal also follows the anti-tobacco move by CVS, America's #2 drugstore chain, which went into effect last month and followed a lot of research and soul-searching, at a time when all pharmacies are looking to increase their value to customers.Continue reading...

health matters

CVS Bets On Anti-Smoking Positioning with Corporate Commitment to Health

Posted by Dale Buss on September 3, 2014 01:42 PM

CVS Caremark is making a huge bet with its brand on opposing smoking, as the company today announced that it is going way beyond its February announcement that it would stop selling tobacco in its 7,700 retail locations beginning October 1.

America's second-largest drugstore chain revealed that it is changing its corporate name to CVS Health to reflect its new wellness positioning (while its consumer-facing CVS/pharmacy stores are dropping the hyphen); that it is launching a huge smoking-cessation effort to help customers kick the habit too; and that it has stopped selling tobacco products as of today, nearly a month ahead of its earlier-indicated date.

CVS Health is backing up this huge wager with a passel of new ads and social media activations about the benefits of a smoke-free life under the theme "One Good Reason"—as in, your loved ones comprise "one good reason" to quit smoking, and "What is your #onegoodreason to kick tobacco too"?Continue reading...

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