Protect youth from vaping epidemic | Column, Jan. 12
Vaping is not as bad as smoking
As a long-time tobacco and cancer researcher, I was disappointed by some assertions about e-cigarettes in this column. First, Americans are killed not by nicotine but by the inhalation of combusted tobacco; that is, by smoking traditional cigarettes. Second, while the long-term effects of vaping cannot yet be fully determined, the scientific consensus is that vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking. This conclusion has been reached by bodies such as the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine in the United States and the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom. The latter estimated that vaping was no more than 5 percent as harmful as smoking. Last of all, millions of Americans proudly end their addictions to tobacco, alcohol and other drugs every year. And it appears that e-cigarettes are helping many Americans quit smoking. Indeed, the American Cancer Society now recommends that physicians encourage their patients to switch completely to vaping if they have been unable to stop smoking through other means. Some people believe that exaggerated scare tactics will keep adolescents away from e-cigarettes. But the risk is that such messages may push teens back to smoking real cigarettes instead, reversing the current historically low rates of adolescent smoking. Moreover, it can discourage smokers of all ages from trying to quit smoking via e-cigarettes or even other nicotine products such as the patch, gum, or lozenge. Vaping by non-smoking teens is indeed a legitimate concern, and e-cigarettes should be regulated, researched and monitored. But the public deserves the best available information based on science.
Thomas Brandon, Lutz
The writer is chair of the Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior, and director of the Tobacco Research and Intervention Program, at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.
Federal workers' new need: food assistance | Jan. 16
McConnell could fix this
This shutdown could be solved by one person: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He refuses to bring to the floor a spending bill to re-open government even though one passed by voice vote last month. If he did that, we know the president would veto it, but Congress could choose to override the veto. That is how our government is supposed to work, but now people are suffering because Rush Limbaugh told the president what to do. The real devastation is people having no money for rent, medicine, food and much more. It is a false equivalence to blame the Democrats. Last month, before the new Congress began, Democrats had offered up to $1.6 billion for border security, but nothing for the border wall. Don't confuse the wall with border security.
Fred Grunewald, Land O'Lakes
Cameras in the classroom
Put it all on tape
After 36 years of teaching, I now believe that having a camera in every classroom would benefit both teachers and students. If a problem should occur, there would be no question of wrongdoing on either side. It would simply be a matter of reviewing the tape and letting the facts speak for themselves. Any educator who has taught for any amount of time will tell you that teaching and the attitudes of the children we teach have changed considerably; a camera in every classroom could only benefit everyone involved.
John Delate, New Port Richey