William Zoghbi, the current president of the American College of Cardiology, today served as a torchbearer for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The ACC, naturally, was proud of the honor and tweeted the event. Zoghbi himself wrote about it on his ACC blog.
But I couldn’t help noticing one line in Zoghbi’s blog:
I am one of 22 participants chosen by the Coca-Cola Company to carry the Olympic Flame as part of its Live Positively campaign.
An ACC spokesperson told me that Zoghbi was chosen by Coke because the company is a sponsor of the ACC’s CardioSmart initiative. Here’s a note at the end of the ACC announcement of the sponsorship.
Note: The ACC’s newly formed Patient Centered Care Committee and Board of Trustees carefully review each potential sponsor, its products and how well the organization and its brand fit with the ACC’s goals and values. The ACC will not endorse any product or service in connection with its CardioSmart National Care Initiative. In addition, the ACC maintains complete editorial independence over program materials and tools, which support guideline-based cardiovascular care and prevention.
I wonder what criterial the ACC Board of Trustees used in determining that Coca Cola and “its brand fit with the ACC’s goals and values.”
I was particularly disturbed by the words that Zoghbi was “chosen” by Coca Cola. At first I thought I might made a snide comment about how Coca Cola might end up choosing the next president of the ACC, but that seemed a bit extreme and unfair. But then I wondered: given the financial ties between the ACC and Coca Cola, what is the likelihood that the ACC will choose a president in the future who takes a strong stand against a company like Coca Cola?
But why get all worked up about this? Coca Cola already pays the NHLBI so that it can put a red dress on Diet Coke cans, the AHA accepts money from Subway and Nintendo, and Victor Dzau, the cardiologist who serves as the Chancellor for Health Affairs at Duke, sits on the board of Pepsi. It’s all just business as usual.