Michael Jordan And His Cigar

Sometimes you just can’t get it right for trying.


I must admit that I am not a big “media fan” or stargazer, and I know nothing about an online website called TMZ.  What I have learned is that TMZ’s claim to fame is showing movie stars behaving badly.


Why am I even writing about this?


Because earlier this week, our division office in California was contacted by TMZ for a news comment.  The topic was a photo of Michael Jordan smoking a cigar at a softball game.  Nothing really unusual about that part of the story.


One of our respected volunteers responded, and was straight and to the point: celebrities set examples that other people—especially young people—follow.  Cigar smoking is one example of an unhealthy behaviorSmoking is harmful for your health and causes one out of three cancer deaths.


That’s it. End of statement.


The next thing you know, the headline on the website proclaims that the American Cancer Society is “burning” over Mr. Jordan’s “cigar shots.”


Well, sorry to say, but we are not.  It is not even a lingering topic of discussion in our offices. 


No one is surprised to hear that the Society doesn’t consider smoking to be a healthy behavior.  If Mr. Jordan were to ask us, we certainly wouldn’t encourage him to smoke.

But then it’s no secret that we don’t encourage anyone to smoke. 


If Mr. Jordan smokes cigars, then that’s his business.  We don’t think it sets a good example for others to follow.


We are even more concerned about the example set every day in movie theaters when smoking by actors is treated with cavalier disdain.  And we have the research to show that smoking in the movies does influence teen behavior.


We were asked to provide a comment, and we did.  Our comment was based on the request from TMZ.  We didn’t even know about these photos until TMZ asked.


It certainly does show how good intent can be misrepresented for someone else’s gain (in this case TMZ).   And once that cat is out of the bag, the denizens of the internet take over and create a controversy.


The Society certainly has no interest in becoming a personal “health nanny,” not for Mr. Jordan or for anyone else.



Filed Under: Lung Cancer | Prevention | Tobacco


J. Leonard Lichtenfeld's Biography

Dr. Len

J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, MACP: Dr. Lichtenfeld currently serves as Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the American Cancer Society in the Society's Office of the Chief Medical Officer located at the Society's Corporate Center in Atlanta. Dr. Lichtenfeld joined the Society in 2001 as a medical editor, and in 2002 assumed responsibility for managing the Society's then newly created Cancer Control Science Department which included the prevention and early detection of cancer, emerging cancer science and trends, health equity, quality of life for cancer patients, the science of cancer communications and the role of nutrition and physical activity in cancer prevention and cancer care.  In 2014, Dr. Lichtenfeld assumed his current role in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer where he provides extensive support to a number of Society colleagues and activities. As a result of his over four decades of experience in cancer care, Dr. Lichtenfeld is frequently quoted in the print and electronic media regarding the Society's positions on a number of important issues related to cancer. He has testified regularly in legislative and regulatory hearings, and participated on numerous panels regarding cancer care, research, advocacy and related topics. He has served on a number of advisory committees and boards for organizations that collaborate with the Society to reduce the burden of cancer nationally and worldwide. He is well known for his blog (www.cancer.org/drlen) which first appeared in 2005 and which continues to address many topics related to cancer research and treatment. A board certified medical oncologist and internist who was a practicing physician for over 19 years, Dr. Lichtenfeld has long been engaged in health care policy on a local, state, and national level.  He is active in several state and national medical organizations and has a long-standing interest in professional legislative and regulatory issues related to health care including physician payment, medical care delivery systems, and health information technology. Dr. Lichtenfeld is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann Medical College (now Drexel University College of Medicine) in Philadelphia.  His postgraduate training was at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the National Cancer Institute in Baltimore. He is a member of Alpha Omega Alpha, the national honor medical society.  Dr. Lichtenfeld has received several awards in recognition of his efforts on behalf of his colleagues and his professional activities.  He has been designated a Master of the American College of Physicians in acknowledgement of his contributions to internal medicine.  Dr. Lichtenfeld is married, and resides in Atlanta and Thomasville, Georgia.

8 thoughts on “Michael Jordan And His Cigar

  1. i think ACS should be granted a retraction or better yet a settlement for TMZ misrepresenting the volunteer’s comments. Then I think the fund should be towards research or an awareness campaign. Go get em ACS.

  2. I’ll admit I smoke, but I understand you are doing a good deed by educating the American public on the dangers of smoking.

    However, I think your California office made a mistake here. You chose an athlete who has been smoking cigars since at least 1990, when his Bulls one the first of six titles. Just look back on some of the pictures of him during his playing career. Trust me, he’s always been smoking a cigar.

    I’m gratified you don’t want to act as the health police for stars. My only request is if you’re going to look for someone who might be setting a bad example, you might want to look more closely at current athletes and stars. When you step back almost 20 years, that’s far from contemporary.

  3. Scott, thanks for your comment.

    Just for the record, we did not “choose” Mr. Jordan. We were called by TMZ. We provided what we considered an educational statement regarding smoking. This was in response to a request for comment from a news organization. We did not proactively contact TMZ. It’s TMZ that was going to post the story and called us looking for information, as do many news organizations every day.

  4. I think it’s terribly unfortunate that TMZ stirred up so much trouble for ACS. But look at the positives here. TMZ wanted a reputable “source” when they were looking for someone to say “smoking is a bad role model” it’s just woefully unfortunate that they put the wrong spin on it. They tried to make ACS the “bad guy” which is vigilante journalism at its very worst. But look at it this way, thankfully ACS is a major player in the fight against cancer and has really made a name for themselves, as an “expert witness” if you will. All in all, I think anyone who does the slightest bit of research on this story will quickly come to the truth and ACS will come out on top, and TMZ will be over in the smut with all the other opinionated liberal media outlets as just another sensationalized mess.

  5. How much less harmful is cigar smoking than cigarette smoking? While the best course is not to use tobacco in any form, but I haven’t seen much on the relative risk level for smoking premium cigars that one does not inhale. There was some research done a few years ago indicating that tongue cancer was the greatest risk from cigar smoking. What is known now?

  6. The ACS “certainly has no interest in becoming a personal health nanny?” When did that happen? The ACS has been one of the most vocal supporters of banning smoking on private property for years. What do you call that if it isn’t “becoming a personal health nanny?” Ban smoking in public places, yes. On private property like restaurants and bars, mind your own business.

    Typical hypocrisy from an agency that could probably do a lot of good on the cancer-fighting front if it took the millions wasted on smoking bans and put it toward finding a cure for cancer. But then a cure for cancer would put you out of business, wouldn’t it?

  7. Congress doesn’t even know what’s in it, how can you? The final bill hasn’t even been voted on (it keeps changing)! First there was the ‘Smoking CONTROL act’, NOW mammograms and in-line is ‘body fat’! Hummmmmmmmm???? BUT I am nearing the age of ‘the back door’ part of this ‘great health bill’! I recently got back into the VA Health Care after being told there was an 18-24 mo. waiting list for the eighth time since serving during the Vietnam era. AFTER the Walter Reed incident the waiting time came down to on average 90 days???? Hummmmm NOW I get to see a primary care DR. for 15 min every 6 mos. I was enlisted in medical treatment at VA clinic during 2003. After recently receiving a copy of my medical records from that facility, none of my diagnosis is what I was told affected me back in 2003. I quit smoking July 6, 2009 (cold turkey) after smoking 48 yrs. Reason taxes not by choice. A week later I had my first VA Clinic appointment since 2003. They had me go to VA Hospital to take a breathing test. A month later and the findings showed a ‘normal breathing capacity’. WOWWWWWWWWWWW ….. Maybe someone’s lying about the harm smoking causes! YET I have chronic fatigue daily? YOU, who think this OBAMACARE health bill is so good, go visit VA hospitals, see the line, and hear the stories from real veterans and patients to government health care! AND while you’re at it, ask them how a 48 year, 1 1/2-2 pack a day smoker has no lung or breathing problems? Since I cant pay rent the next 4 mos. to get me to the date I can collect my regular SS at age 62, maybe the cig manufacturers would be interested in paying me to do commercials contradicting the governments (false) campaign against smoking???? Guess like a lot of VETS, I’ll end up homeless along the road without cigarettes? I smell a ‘rat in the wood pile somewhere’???

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