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 www.hernandoantidrug.org 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