Players In New Professional Esports League Could Make As Much As Major League Soccer Players

Not only can competitive video game players now receive scholarships to the University of Utah, they could parlay that love into a pretty well-paying professional esports career, where players will receive a salary and benefits rivaling other professional sport athletes. 

Activision Blizzard announced Wednesday additional details of its professional esports Overwatch League set to begin play this fall, including player salaries and potential bonus awards.

Players in the league, which was crafted to resemble other professional sport leagues such as the NFL and MLB, will make a minimum salary of $50,000 per year. At this rate, Bloomberg notes, the salary for Overwatch players rivals that of Major League Soccer players, who receive a minimum salary of $53,000.

However, Overwatch players stand to earn more than just their base salary. The League says that players can earn as much as 50% of their team bonuses. These bonuses, Activation Blizzard notes, will total $3.5 million in the first year, with the championship team receiving $1 million.

Additionally, players, who are singed to a one-year guaranteed contract, will receive health insurance and a retirement savings plan.

The League

Teams for The Overwatch League have already been confirmed in Boston, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, New York City, San Francisco, Seoul, and Shanghai. Activision Blizzard is expected to add additional host cities over time.

Teams will be built using a roster of the more than 30 million eligible Overwatch players. Teams will be able to add players during a signing window from Aug. 1 until Oct. 30.

Teams will also provide players with housing and practice facilities during the season, the company said.

FDA Considering Lowering Level Of Nicotine Allowed In Cigarettes To Reduce Addiction

Could your future cigarette purchase come with a little less nicotine? It’s possible, as the FDA revealed today a new multi-year roadmap intended to protect kids and reduce tobacco-related disease and death.

The FDA announced today a comprehensive regulatory plan that moves the issues of addiction and its relation to nicotine to the forefront of the agency’s efforts to implement the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

“Congress gave FDA powerful tools to help reduce the harms caused by tobacco use when it passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in 2009,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said today. “And it sent a strong signal by calling it the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.  To put it simply: it’s all about kids and families. Congress made that clear in the law. And we take that responsibility very seriously.”

To this end, the agency says it will use its rule-making authority and seek input on public health issues in determining how it should move forward with the regulation of nicotine.

Tackling Addiction

According to the FDA, tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S., with more than 480,000 deaths occurring each year.

To reduce this number, the FDA plans to create a greater awareness that nicotine is addictive.

“The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes – the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users,” Gottlieb said.

Related: You Still Can’t Fire Up An E-Cigarette On Your Flight

Gottlieb claimed that unless the FDA does something, 5.6 million young people could die prematurely later in life from tobacco use.

“Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts – and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground,” he added.

Reducing Nicotine

One step the FDA plans to pursue in order to reduce the prevalence of nicotine addiction is reducing the amount of nicotine found in cigarettes.

“Nicotine is astonishingly addictive,” Gottlieb said. “And when nicotine is attached to cigarette smoke particles, it’s not only highly addictive, but an addictive chemical mix of disease and death. So we need to take a fresh look at nicotine itself, and how the addiction that it causes relates to the potential harm of its delivery mechanism.”

The agency says it plans to begin a public dialogue about lowering the permissible nicotine levels in combustible cigarettes to non-addictive levels. This would involve reducing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes through product standards.

FDA intends to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to seek input on the potential public health benefits and any possible adverse effects of lowering nicotine in cigarettes.

By lowering the level of nicotine in cigarettes, the FDA believes it can decrease the likelihood that future generations become addicted to cigarettes, while also assisting those currently addicted to kick the habit.

“Because nicotine lives at the core of both the problem and the solution to the question of addiction, addressing the addictive levels of nicotine in combustible cigarettes must be part of the FDA’s strategy for addressing the devastating, addiction crisis that is threatening American families,” Gottlieb said. “Our approach to nicotine must be accompanied by a firm foundation of rules and standards for newly regulated products. To be successful all of these steps must be done in concert and not in isolation.”

Looking To Other Options

In addition to exploring a decrease in nicotine found in cigarettes, the FDA says it is committed to finding other innovative ways to influence public health changes.

The agency said today that it intends to extend timelines to submit tobacco product review applications for newly regulated tobacco products that were on the market as of Aug. 8, 2016.

Related: FDA Quietly Delays Stricter Rules On E-Cigarettes, Cigars

This action, the FDA said, will afford the agency time to explore clear and meaningful measures to make tobacco products less toxic, appealing and addictive.

For example, the FDA intends to develop product standards to protect against known public health risks such as e-cigarette battery issues and concerns about children’s exposure to liquid nicotine.

Additionally, the expanded timeframe will allow manufacturers to develop higher quality, more complete applications informed by additional guidance from the agency, the agency said.

Under expected revised timelines, applications for newly regulated combustible products, such as cigars, pipe tobacco and hookah tobacco, would be submitted by Aug. 8, 2021, and applications for non-combustible products like e-cigarettes would be submitted by Aug. 8, 2022.

Getting Input

The FDA says that it also plans to seek public input on other ways it can help protect public health related to new tobacco products.

This, the agency says, will insult looking for input on approaches to regulating kid-appealing flavors in e-cigarettes and cigars.

By seeking public input on the issues, the FDA says it will ensure that it has proper science-based policies in place to meaningfully reduce the harms caused by tobacco use.

“This comprehensive plan and sweeping approach to tobacco and nicotine allows the FDA to apply the powerful tools given by Congress to achieve the most significant public health impact,” Mitch Zeller, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, said.


Apple Puts iPod Nano And iPod Shuffle Out To Pasture

So long, old friends: After many redesigns and colors, Apple has dropped the iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle from its lineup. Why drop the teeny devices now? Their ancestor the iPod Classic is now gone, and the two devices were the only music players left that don’t use iOS. Worse, the iPod Shuffle doesn’t have Bluetooth.

Yesterday brought the death of the two older models of iPod, and the surviving model is what used to be called the iPod Touch.

This marks the first time since 2001 that Apple won’t sell a standalone music player. The iPod Touch is really a tiny tablet that runs iOS, the operating system of Apple’s phones and tablets. It only connects to WiFi, not mobile data, but otherwise resembles an iPhone.

Here’s where the death of the smaller iPods comes in. Like its cousin, the iPhone 7, the newest version of the iPod doesn’t have a 3.5 millimeter headphone jack. How can Apple sell you Beats wireless headphones and AirPods if the Shuffle doesn’t even have Bluetooth?

Starbucks Closing All Teavana Stores

It was almost five years ago that Starbucks paid $620 million to acquire mall tea chain Teavana, politely declining the $800 million tea tin upsell. While Teavana products are now for sale in every Starbucks cafe, including fruit-infused iced teas, the company announced this week that it will be closing the remaining Teavana retail stores over the coming year.

The retail tea biz

There are 379 Teavana stores in shopping malls, where employees brew very strong samples to entice shoppers to buy tasty loose teas.

Starbucks had also opened a few standalone Teavana-branded tea bars, but ended the experiment by converting these businesses into Starbucks cafes or closing them. Instead, Teavana products began to show up on the standard Starbucks menu, including an Oprah-endorsed chai and a piƱa colada-themed tea drink.

Starbucks will keep distributing Teavana drinks in grocery stores as well as selling the brand’s teas and brewed products in its cafes.

This is becoming a trend with Starbucks, which acquired the bakery La Boulange and began putting its baked goods in stores, later closing all of the chain’s standalone stores.

All the espresso in China

In the same earnings report where the company shared the Teavana news, it also said that it would be buying its entire business in China, buying the the other half of its business in that country from joint venture partners that own 50%. If you count that as an acquisition, it’s the company’s largest ever at $1.3 billion.