Static: Wednesday, April 3, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Eyes Are Watching

Mailers sent out to Tarrant County households in recent months included ads for the Laser Vision Institute with an oversized headline offering “LASIK $299.” If you put on your reading glasses, the fine print revealed the price is per eye and only for the first 250 qualifying customers. That’s the kind of eye-surgery-as-fast-food hype that Lee Anderson, president of the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, complained of in a recent Fort Worth Weekly cover story (“Shuttered Sight,” Feb. 20, 2003).

Now, thanks to press coverage and public complaints, the Federal Trade Commission has just taken legal action against Laser Vision Institute and LCA Vision (LASIK Plus) — two of the largest LASIK providers in the country — for misleading advertising. In an action announced March 26, FTC Consumer Protection Director Howard Beales came down hard on providers who promise that LASIK “is safer than glasses and contacts” and that the procedure would let patients “throw away glasses and contacts forever.” Beales said neither company had sufficient scientific evidence to support its claims. LVI was also scolded for advertising free LASIK consultations — except that would-be patients then had to pay $300 in order to hear about the risks of and their suitability for surgery. The companies face penalties of $11,000 per violation if they continue. Beales encouraged consumers to report complaints at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Cocaine Math and Myth

The Weekly’s cover story on a U.S.-supported coca-spraying program that is depopulating and deforesting part of Colombia and Ecuador (“Scorched Earth Policy,” March 13, 2003) seems to have drawn the attention of some folks in Washington and New York. The story noted that despite the poison-a-village-to-save-a-village program, cocaine prices on the street don’t seem to be going up the way they should if supplies were truly being decimated.

A few days after the story hit the streets (and the internet), the United Nations released its annual survey of coca crop estimates — two months early. A source who makes a profession out of being anonymous called two days before the survey came out, to say that the Weekly’s story had caused the premature release.

The UN claims that Colombia’s coca crop was reduced by nearly 30 percent in 2002 compared to 2001 because of the fumigation program. White House drug czar John Walters called the reduction “historic” — but admitted to the Miami Herald that, somehow, the results have yet to be seen on American streets.

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