Out­law vape mar­ket­ing to young peo­ple

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - OPINION -

As va­p­ing de­vices first were mass-mar­keted more than a decade ago to help smok­ers get off to­bacco, many ex­perts warned that the de­vices posed ad­dic­tion dan­gers of their own and that they would be mar­keted to young peo­ple.

The in­dus­try in­sisted that the de­vices were in­tended only to help smok­ers quit rather than to lure non-smok­ers, with­out ex­plain­ing why the liq­uids va­por­ized in the de­vices came in fla­vors such as bub­ble gum.

There is lit­tle ques­tion that va­p­ing is safer than smok­ing to­bacco be­cause the va­por does not de­liver the car­cino­genic tar pro­duced by cig­a­rettes. But safer is not the same thing as safe.

Va­p­ing helps smok­ing ad­dicts by elim­i­nat­ing the to­bacco but it works by de­liv­er­ing nico­tine, the ad­dic­tive sub­stance in to­bacco, of­ten in higher amounts than in in­di­vid­ual cig­a­rettes.

But now, young peo­ple who never have smoked are a pri­mary mar­ket for va­p­ing de­vices, and nico­tine keeps them com­ing back.

A study re­leased ear­lier this year by the Na­tional Acad­e­mies of Sciences, En­gi­neer­ing and Medicine con­cluded that va­p­ing led stu­dents to smoke cig­a­rettes, al­though it did not de­ter­mine whether they be­came ha­bit­ual or one-time cig­a­rette smok­ers.

And a Na­tional In­sti­tute on Drug Abuse study found that stu­dents who had only vaped while in high school were four times more likely to try to­bacco af­ter grad­u­at­ing, than those who had not vaped.

The New York Times re­ported last week on a dis­turb­ing na­tional trend in which thou­sands of stu­dents clan­des­tinely vape while in class, us­ing de­vices that the in­dus­try sup­pos­edly does not mar­ket to young peo­ple.

Us­ing the same reg­u­la­tory tech­niques that have helped to vastly re­duc­ing na­tional smok­ing rates and the mis­ery that comes with the ad­dic­tion, fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments should out­law vape mar­ket­ing to young peo­ple.

— The Wilkes-Barre Cit­i­zens’ Voice, The As­so­ci­ated Press

It was sup­posed to bring Penn­syl­va­nia’s statewide po­lice ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions into the 21st cen­tury. In­stead, the sys­tem dubbed OpenSky left state po­lice ra­dio com­mu­ni­ca­tions dis­rupted — if not oc­ca­sion­ally dis­con­nected.

Now years af­ter its sched­uled im­ple­men­ta­tion, at a cost four times its orig­i­nal es­ti­mate, an­swers are owed about this $800 mil­lion boon­dog­gle.

An au­dit is a start­ing point in de­ter­min­ing how a ra­dio sys­tem, au­tho­rized in 1996 at a cost of $179 mil­lion, de­volved into a techno-morass that ac­tu­ally im­paired state po­lice com­mu­ni­ca­tions in ma­jor in­ves­ti­ga­tions — most no­tably, dur­ing the man­hunt for Eric Frein, who killed a trooper dur­ing a 2014 am­bush out­side a state po­lice bar­racks in the Po­conos.

In re­cent Sen­ate tes­ti­mony, state po­lice Maj. Diane Stack­house said OpenSky was “worth­less dur­ing the Frein man­hunt.”

The pro­pri­etary sys­tem so badly in­hib­ited com­mu­ni­ca­tions with lo­cal and fed­eral au­thor­i­ties that an­other sys­tem was brought in.

And while the re­place­ment P25 ra­dio sys­tem is now be­ing used in four Penn­syl­va­nia coun­ties, with four more to be added by June, there re­mains the mat­ter of clear­ing the cloud cover that looms over OpenSky.

At least one state se­na­tor has called for a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which the state At­tor­ney Gen­eral’s Of­fice would not con­firm or deny. Ul­ti­mately what’s needed, and long over­due, is a re­fund.

— The Pitts­burgh Tri­buneRe­view, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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