Thursday, April 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Keep e-cigarettes away from minors

Electronic cigarettes do not belong in the hands of minors and Florida lawmakers should ban the sale, barter or gifting of electronic smoking devices to children under 18. Legislation that would do just that appears to be on the fast track in Tallahassee, a smart move that could prevent nicotine addiction in children and another generation of smokers from getting hooked before they are mature enough or there's enough science to know the long-term impact of their decisions.

Electronic cigarettes were introduced widely in the United States about seven years ago. The device — a steel tube, nicotine cartridge and an atomizer — provides smokers with the sensation of nicotine absent the deadly tar that is present in traditional cigarettes. The battery-operated devices deliver nicotine through a vapor that rises when the flavored liquid in the cigarette heats up. Flavors range from classic tobacco to fruity concoctions such as cherry or vanilla cupcake. The sweet flavors and their availability everywhere from corner shops to the Internet have raised concerns about youth smoking and that electronic cigarettes could become a gateway to traditional smoking. Sightings of celebrities smoking electronic cigarettes and robust advertising from manufacturers also have fueled anxiety among health officials and parents.

Public health officials are divided on the danger of electronic cigarettes. Proponents tout their growing popularity as a cessation device. But others say electronic cigarettes may not be safer than their more traditional counterparts because they still provide access to nicotine, which is known to be addictive. The cigarettes are so new that no conclusive data exists detailing the long-term effects of their use. And the industry is not yet regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, leading some to question the products' ingredients, particularly those with flavored liquids that are made in foreign countries.

With mainstream tobacco companies seeking entree into the $1.7 billion electronic cigarette business, Florida lawmakers are wise to step up now and create rules that protect minors. The law already prohibits traditional cigarette sales to that group. It should do the same for the electronic version. With laws in place to stop children from indulging, perhaps science will have the time to catch up and provide data about the effects of lighting up.

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Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18