Tuesday, December 12, 2017
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: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Updated: 23 minutes ago

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17