Darts and laurels
Laurels to a big drop in the number of smokers. About 3 million fewer people were smoking in 2011, compared to 2009, a USA Today analysis found. Researchers attribute the drop primarily to rising costs. The federal cigarette tax jumped from 39 cents a pack to $1.01 per pack in April 2009. While the smoking decline showed up across demographic groups, the sharpest drops were among the elderly and Hispanics, with more women than men kicking the habit. But it also was reflected among teen smokers, a group specifically targeted by both federal and state anti-smoking programs. "The federal tax increase was the win-win that we thought it would be and the evidence shows that," says Danny McGoldrick, research vice president at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The CDC found that the federal tax hike was a major factor in tobacco use declining to 18.9 percent of the population in 2011, the lowest level on record. This should mean better health for those who've kicked the habit and fewer dollars spent on health care for them in the future.n n nDart to the tsunami of political ads about to wash over North Carolina. Writing in "The Party Line" blog at WFAE.org, Dr. Michael Bitzer says "the advertising firehose is about to be turned on full blast." Thus far, North Carolina ranks fourth in terms of money already spent or "booked" on presidential campaign advertising on TV and radio. If you narrow it down and look only at money already spent on TV advertising related to the presidential race, North Carolina comes in third, with about $59.2 million spent, not that far behind Ohio ($62 million) and Florida ($80 million). The state's major market - no surprise - is the Charlotte region, where about $26 million has been spent on TV advertising.n n n?Laurels to N.J. Gov. Chris Christie for expanding his campaign efforts to include one of Salisbury's homegrown products - Cheerwine. After this week's visit to Salisbury to stump for gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, Christie has been "extolling the virtues of his new favorite drink," according to a post on Cheerwine's Facebook page from John Steward, chair of the 9th District GOP. In fact, Christie is so smitten that he reportedly plans to install a Cheerwine vending machine in the Executive Office and import the soft drink in by the caseload. For the record, be assured that the governor noted for his ample girth sips on Diet Cheerwine rather than the regular version.