Monday, June 18, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Letters: E-cigarette use putting teens' health at risk

E-cigarettes not safe for teenagers

As chairman of the Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition, I keep up-to-date on emerging drug and alcohol trends in the community. The use of e-cigarettes and hookah pens in the school setting has been an issue of concern among school resource officers, teachers, and students. Electronic cigarettes are virtually odorless form of nicotine delivery, can look like a writing pen, can easily fit into pockets, all of which makes detecting use at school problematic. Compounding this problem, is the use of concentrated THC — called dabs because it usually comes in oil or wax and it takes a small amount — and other illicit drugs being consumed through these devices.

Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes, vapors, vaporizers, pens, hookah pens or nicotine vaporizers) are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid vapor allowing users to inhale nicotine from a noncombustible product. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration moved to control a new, higher tech smoking risk and proposed a sweeping set of rules to crack down on electronic cigarettes. The FDA rules would focus on two areas: children and public awareness. The FDA wants to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. E-cigarette manufacturers would be required to divulge the ingredients in their products and stop handing out free samples. That will help researchers and potential smokers to better understand the risks to health.

There is mounting evidence that electronic cigarettes pose significant health risks. Under the new rules, e-cigarettes would carry a warning label, just as regular cigarettes do. And the state Legislature passed a bill banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors.

E-cigarettes have become a multibillion-dollar industry, turning up in convenience stores and smoke shops across the county, where they are marketed as a safe alternative to cigarettes. Alarmingly, however, school officials, health professionals and law enforcement personnel discovered they are also used as a convenient way to consume prescription, harmful and/or illicit drugs. Because e-cigarettes and pens release a vapor rather than traditional smoke, they do not release a noticeable aroma as traditional marijuana or hash cigarettes do.

The antidrug coalition and Tobacco Free Hernando is concerned about the rapid increase in e-cigarette/pens use among teens. The National Youth Tobacco Survey found last year that 1 in 10 high schoolers had tried it, double the number from 2012. The alarming increase in e-cigarette use, accessibility (there is not currently an age requirement to buy e-cigarettes) and acceptability has the potential to normalize smoking again and can have deadly results. For more information, see or call 352-596-8000.

Janice Smith, Spring Hill

Trade zone don't face regulations

The Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport is poised to grow. On the surface, these plans may seem like positive things for one of the most economically depressed counties in Florida. But, big planes flying low over our once peaceful homes is not a good thing by any means.

More alarming is the newest initiative exploring how to become a Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). For this to happen, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility must be present.

An FTZ is an area whereby goods may be landed, manufactured, reconfigured, and re-exported without the intervention of the customs authorities. Operations may be set up under the influence of other governments.

Only when the goods are moved to consumers within the country in which the zone is located do the goods become subject to the prevailing custom tariffs and inspections. While corporations setting up a zone may be given tax breaks as an incentive, FTZs give foreign corporations more economic liberty than is given indigenous employers which face large and often insurmountable regulatory hurdles.

Susan Ayers, Brooksville


Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Friday’s letters: Freight trains are infrastructure that works in Tampa Bay

Railroads are infrastructure that worksFreight trains carry the loadCentral Florida is our state’s fastest-growing region. We’re on track to outpace South Florida’s growth 2-to-1 over the next several years. Great news for our local economy, but it n...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Thursday’s letters: Charter schools aren’t the enemy

Don’t plug your ears when schools ask for tax | May 20, columnCharter schools aren’t the enemyAs an educator, I am astounded when I hear claims from school board members that charter schools take away funding from the local public school system. ...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Wednesday’s letters: Trump’s words insult our Canadian visitors

Trade disputes torpedo G-7 summit | June 10Canadian visitors are owed apologyLike many Pinellas County residents, I’m pleased that we receive thousands of Canadian "snow birds" as part-year residents. Not only do they enhance our economy, but by ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Hernando Letters to the Editor for June 15

Opinion: Commissioners arrogant and incompetentMy wife and I live in Hernando County. As such, we are represented by a Board of County Commissioners where all the members manifest two common traits. Those traits are arrogance and incompetence.The arr...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Tuesday’s letters: Fewer guns would reduce suicides

U.S. under suicide watch | June 8Fewer guns mean fewer suicidesIt is a fact that deserves more attention, but got only one sentence in the article about the U.S. "suicide watch:" "The most common method used across all groups was firearms." I spe...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for June 15

New group to address real women’s issuesLast Saturday our Congressman Gus Bilirakis sponsored a "Woman’s Summit" at East Lake High School that was supposed to deal with women’s issues. Some topics covered were gardening, weight loss and quilting.Mayb...
Published: 06/11/18

Monday’s letters: Bring back the ferry, kick-start transit

Cross bay, but who’ll pay? | June 8Ferry could be a gateway to transitIt’s great news that St. Petersburg is committed to bringing back the world class cross bay ferry service. What a common-sense and practical thing to do in order to ease us int...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/11/18