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Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

Dr. Kate Scannell: Should employers be allowed to ban smokers from jobs?

By Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in print: 03/29/2013

The Vatican is the only place I know where evidence of smoke can signal positive job news. Instead, as paired essays in the New England Journal of Medicine attest, employers are increasingly searching for evidence of tobacco smoke in job seekers to deny them jobs.

The authors of those essays neatly lay out opposing arguments to either support or denounce hiring policies that exclude smokers from employment consideration. Their thoughtfulness, civility, and adherence to actual facts provide a refreshing break from the smoke-blowing in much of the current public debate.  Read More 

Dr. Kate Scannell: New York's soda tax battle pits government role against personal liberty

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in Print: 03/17/2013

Last Monday, a judge canned New York City's revolutionary plan to prohibit the sale of large, high-caloric, sugar-sweetened drinks in restaurants, movie theaters, and other food venues -- just one day before the ban was supposed to take effect. The ruling dealt a blow to the city's Board of Health and Mayor Michael Bloomberg who were promoting the ban as a means to address the obesity epidemic.

Had the deliciously-named judge -- Milton Tingling -- not overturned the so-called "soda ban," today it would be permissible in establishments under the health department's purview to celebrate St. Pat's in Manhattan with pitchers of manhattans, but nothing larger than 16-ounce servings of sugary beverages.

This has stirred much debate about the proper reach of government into our private lives. Can -- and should -- the government regulate the sipping point of our thirst for sugar, the critical ounce beyond which our intake tips toward transgression? Read More