The facts are clear on e-cigarette industry: Teens are their target

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Jacob Sullum’s op-ed (“New Restrictions on E-Cigarettes Will Deter Adult Smokers from Switching”) asserts that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision to crack down on kid-friendly e-cigarette flavorings will deter adult smokers from switching to vaping and actually lead to an increase in smoking-related deaths. Mr. Sullum needs to check his facts.

He claims that vaping helps people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. A recent study from Dartmouth found the exact opposite: e-cigarette use leads to 81 times more new smokers than quitters.

Mr. Sullum also claims that these candy-like flavors are aimed at adults, not kids.  Flavors like blue razz candy, gummy bear, whipped cream, and chocolate cupcake? Come on. The appeal of these flavors is reflected in who is using them — nationwide, 12 percent of young people are vaping, whereas only 3d percent of adults are.

Today, e-cigarettes are the most popular form of tobacco use among youth, with more than two million middle and high school students using them. New data will soon be released showing that there was a 75 percent spike in e-cigarette use among high school students over the past year.

This popularity among youth is in no small part due to the flavorings developed by e-cigarette companies to hook a new generation of children on nicotine. The FDA reports that 81 percent of kids who have ever tried an e-cigarette started with a flavored product.

This is a page right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. Remember Joe Camel? Remember strawberry, orange, and grape-flavored cigarettes?  In 2009, Congress banned these kid-appealing flavors and marketing for cigarettes because the science on the risk of harm to children was clear. It’s time we do the same for e-cigarettes.

I introduced a bipartisan bill that would give companies one year to prove that their flavors actually help people quit smoking cigarettes, do not cause children to start smoking, and do not harm the user.

The real story is that tobacco addiction among kids is going down. That’s why Big Tobacco is becoming Big Vaping. They need a replacement addictive product.

The FDA is right: e-cigarette use is an epidemic and our kids are the targets.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois

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Mitch McConnell, hypocrite

Mitch McConnell’s recent whiny rant and meltdown on the Senate floor regarding the Brett Kavanugh nomination is the height of hypocrisy.  He called the behavior of Senate Democrats despicable — remember Merrick Garland.  He spoke of Democrats having already made up their minds and chosen their tactics — remember Merrick Garland.  He implied that Democratic senators do not take their responsibilities seriously — remember Merrick Garland.  His indignation is hypocritical — remember Merrick Garland.

McConnell’s double standard comes out as he behaves in a way that suggests he has higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case.  He does not!

Scott G. Burgh, Albany Park

Kavanaugh’s false testimony

In all of the controversy around Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged attack on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when she was 15, his misleading answers during earlier appearances before Congress have been swept under the rug by the GOP.

In 2007, our own senator, Dick Durbin, confronted Kavanaugh by letter over his denial before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary of any involvement on the questions of terror detainees and enemy combatants while he was working at the White House under George W. Bush, despite documentation to the contrary. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) sent a letter to the Justice Department, under then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, documenting his concern that Kavanaugh had given false testimony. After review, Leahy was informed, by department official Brian Benczkowski, that there was not “sufficient basis” for an investigation.These Bush appointees still haunt us. Brett Kavanaugh was a good candidate for rejection before the sexual assault allegations. The GOP attempt to ram this nomination through is shameful.

Michael Hart, West Ridge

Police mental health

After the Sun-Times editorial “Every Chicago Cop deserves the best mental health care” (Sept. 10) a third Chicago police officer committed suicide in less then a month.

A Department of Justice report found that the suicide rate  for Chicago cops is 60 percent higher than the national average. Suicide is killing officers at a rate far greater than ever imagined, but there is no sense of  urgency around the the issue, says Christy Lopez, a former Justice Department official who led the investigation of the Chicago Police Department. It’s very curious to me why the the Fraternal Order of Police is not out front in what is an obvious call for help from a membership with a higher-than-average suicide rate.

The City of Los Angeles has 14 trained psychologists and are planning to hire two more. By contrast, Chicago has three clinicians serving roughly 12,500 sworn members and their families. They are in the process of hiring another psychologist and adding another alcohol counselor — a good thing for sure — but the question remains: Is a lack of resources and other priorities causing that high suicide rate? Law enforcement is one of the most toxic, caustic career fields in the world. Chicago’s cops are seeing an extraordinary amount of  trauma. They see the worst day of peoples’ lives everyday.

While post-traumatic stress and related disorders are increasingly acknowledged within the military, the prevalence in civilian police work goes virtually unnoticed. As the Sun-Times editorial says, “every” cop in Chicago deserves the best in mental health care. A department with a 60 percent higher suicide rate than the national average screams out and demands attention. City officials and FOP, the question is: Are you seeing and listening to the calls for help?

Bob Angone, Miramar Beach, Florida

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September 26, 2018 at 02:18PM

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