Dispatch: Health Dollars Wasted

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A benign-sounding $372 million grant program by the Obama Administration's Department of Health and Human Services is funding a number of not-so-benign health projects, writes ACSH's Jeff Stier in yesterday's Washington Examiner. The "Communities Putting Prevention to Work" initiative includes money for "youth access to transportation" in Minneapolis, neighborhood gardening in Boston, and smoke-free outdoor air policies in Los Angeles, Stier says. As pleasant as all these things sound, they have little or nothing to do with improving public health, he argues.

Similarly, $15.6 million will go toward giveaways of nicotine gum and the patch in New York, smoking cessation devices that are known to be ineffective, Stier writes. "Instead, the City should fund alternative approaches such as smokeless tobacco, known as 'snus,' as a means of harm reduction. Because it is the burning and inhaling of tobacco that is harmful -- rather than the nicotine -- snus is a far less harmful alternative to cigarettes. And e-cigarettes are an increasingly popular way of getting nicotine without any tobacco at all."