Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS and Taxation<p> A new working paper published by the <a href="">National Bureau of Economic Research</a> is confirming what many have worried would happen: when you tax e-cigarettes, people go back to smoking.</p> <p> As Nicole Kaeding at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation <a href="">writes in her post about the paper</a>, e-cig taxes could dissuade up to 2.75 million adult smokers from quitting.&nbsp;</p> <p> Why is that? As Kaeding explains, the reason is that many states aren&rsquo;t taking into account that e-cigarettes are far safer than cigarettes:</p> <blockquote> <p> Excise taxes are special taxes assessed on products that pose a risk to others, known as an externality. Creating a special, product-specific tax raises the cost of the product, reducing consumption of the product and the externality. We use excise taxes for any number of items, such as alcohol, gasoline, tanning booths, and yes, cigarettes.</p> <p> With the launch of e-cigarettes, states have wondered how to tax them. Should the tax rate match that of traditional cigarettes or should the rate be different? Ideally, economic theory tells us the rate should match the risk of the product, since it&rsquo;s related to the externality caused by the product. So if e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, the rate should be lower. Using the study above, economists would say that rate should be up to 95 percent lower than the excise tax imposed on cigarettes.</p> <p> Not all states have followed that approach. Minnesota was the first state to impose a tax on e-cigarettes, taxing vapor products at 95 percent of their wholesale price. (The tax started at 35 percent.) This natural experiment allowed economists to investigate the impact of high vapor taxes, using other states as controls. The assumption is that if vapor taxes are set too high it would discourage individuals from quitting smoking. Many smokers should want to switch to vapor products to reduce their health risk, but there is a financial calculation too. If the vapor product is too expensive, they would be unable or unwilling to make the switch. Put another way, setting the rate too high could increase the adult smoking rate.</p> <p> Unfortunately for the state of Minnesota, they set their tax rate far too high.</p> <p> According to the authors, &ldquo;we find consistent and robust evidence that the e-cig tax in MN increased adult smoking relative to what it would have been in absence of the tax.&rdquo; Their estimates are that &ldquo;32,400 additional adult smokers would have quit smoking in Minnesota in the absence of the tax.&rdquo;</p> <p> The authors went a step further. They estimate that a new national vapor tax would deter 1.8 million smokers from quitting. If Congress went a step further and adopted a proposal that taxed vapor the same as cigarettes, 2.75 million smokers would be deterred from quitting smoking. Sadly, many in Congress have endorsed such a policy. In October, the House Ways and Means approved a bill that would have created a new federal vapor tax equaling the current tobacco tax rate.</p> </blockquote> <p> Naturally, this doesn&rsquo;t matter to people who don&rsquo;t know that <a href="">vaping is 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes</a>. It also doesn&rsquo;t matter to those who don&rsquo;t know that those who use vaping to quit traditional cigarettes are twice as likely to continue to abstain as those who use other means (cold turkey, patches, gum).</p> <p> The truth is, it&rsquo;s getting much more difficult for folks to vape, which means, sadly, it&rsquo;s going to get tougher for smokers to quit traditional cigarettes. Between FDA flavor bans, corporate capitulation to government bullies (ahem, Juul), and the constant media misinformation driven by so-called health organizations that profit off cigarette sales (and therefore have an interest in keeping cigarette sales high) smokers&rsquo; choices in smoking cessation systems are limited. Meanwhile, cancer-causing cigarettes are sold in every drug store, corner store, bodega, gas station and convenience store nationwide. Makes sense!</p> <p> The real life stories of how these policy decisions are shaking out are pretty depressing. In 2019, before the flavor bans were announced, <a href="">I did a podcast with Victoria Vasconcellos</a>, a former smoker who quit using e-cigarettes. Durign the podcast, talked about her own fears of vaping bans and how she worried that she&rsquo;d have a hard time staying off cigarettes if she was forced to vape tobacco flavor, instead of her favorite mango flavor. To her, the taste of tobacco would be a trigger&mdash;making her want to smoke again.</p> <p> Or consider the story told by Michael Moynihan on the <a href="">January 3<sup>rd</sup> episode of the Fifth Column podcast</a> in which he talks about a friend in San Francisco who is having such a hard time finding the mint flavored e-cigarettes he prefers that he went back to smoking (forward to the 38 minute mark). As Moynihan tells it, his friend just didn&rsquo;t have the time to go hunting around for his favorite flavor.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s sad that people, who successfully transitioned to a far safer means of nicotine delivery, are switching back to a deliver system that kills. Where&rsquo;s the outrage about that?</p> GunlockWed, 15 Jan 2020 11:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTwo Truths And A Lie: Straw Bans<p> Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker &ldquo;two truths and a lie.&rdquo;</p> <p> Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about straws?</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <strong>A: Plastic drinking straws make up a very small percentage of ocean pollution</strong></p> <p> <strong>B: Most ocean plastic pollution originates in the United States</strong></p> <p> <strong>C: Straw bans harm the disability community</strong></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s take these statements one at a time:</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <strong>A: True!</strong></p> <p> You may have heard the claim that Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day and that most of them end up in the oceans, killing sea creatures. Yet, that figure is an exaggeration and what&rsquo;s worse, it isn&rsquo;t even based on real data. The <a href="">rather odd story behind this dramatic figure</a> is that it is based on data promoted by a recycling center called Eco-Cycle. When the number generated media attention, the company confessed it couldn&rsquo;t back up the number and admitted it based it off the research of a 9-year old boy who conducted phone surveys with straw manufacturers in 2011.</p> <p> Despite the figure&rsquo;s dubious origins, the &ldquo;500 million&rdquo; number has become sacrosanct and the basis for 2019&rsquo;s plastic straw panic, which resulted in all out bans on plastic straws in some U.S. cities, certain hotels and restaurants, and a flurry of legislative actions to outlaw straws and even fine businesses that still provide them to consumers.</p> <p> The reality is far less scary. Plastic straws actually account for only a tiny percentage (around <a href="">0.03 percent</a>) of the 8 million metric tons of plastics that enter the oceans each year. Instead of straws, discarded fishing gear dumped directly into the ocean is the main problem.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <strong>B: False!</strong></p> <p> Ocean pollution is a serious problem. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, billions of pounds of trash is dumped into the ocean each year. Yet, 90 percent of that comes from Asia and Africa&mdash;not the United States!</p> <p> In fact, analysis by the World Economic Forum found that 10 rivers all in Asia and Africa&mdash;the Yangtze, Indus, Yellow, Hai He, Fanges, Pearl, Amur, and Mekong in Asia, and the Nile and Niger in Africa&mdash;are responsible for the vast majority of trash in the oceans. A study of waterway pollution confirms this finding that the same ten rivers&mdash;all in Asia and Africa&mdash;carry 93 percent of the trash that ends up in the ocean.</p> <p> This is partly caused because of the lack of wastewater treatment infrastructure in developing nations. A <a href="">2016 UN Report</a> on waste management found that approximately 90 percent of all wastewater generated in developing countries is discharged without primary treatment</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> <strong>C: Truth!</strong></p> <p> Washington DC-based writer and disability advocate Karin Hitselberger explained in a <a href="">Washington Post opinion piece</a> that straw bans will harm the disability community:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> While reusable straws and redesigned cups may be a great solution for most people, they are not an option for many people with disabilities. For example, paper straws, which are most often cited as the best alternative, are not temperature safe, often dissolve in water and can become a choking hazard. As for lids designed to be used without a straw, they require the cup to be lifted by the user, which many people cannot do.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &hellip;</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> People with a huge range of disabilities depend on plastic straws to access beverages and the very water they need to survive: cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis, among many others. For so many people with disabilities, something as mundane as a straw represents independence and freedom. And the conversation around their environmental impact, without consideration of who uses straws and why, demonstrates how people with disabilities are often forgotten.</p> <p> When governments and private industries consider banning certain products to solve a problem, they would be wise to consider what other problems will be created thanks to those prohibition policies. Banning straws to remove 0.03 percent of ocean pollution at the price of harming the disability community seems a steep price to pay.</p> GunlockTue, 14 Jan 2020 16:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Misplaced Moral Panic Over Vaping Is Killing Smokers<p> Manufactured hysteria about electronic cigarettes is perpetuating a public health crisis more severe than the one it seeks to address.&nbsp;A groundbreaking 2015&nbsp;<a href="">study</a>&nbsp;conducted by Great Britain&rsquo;s public health agency, Public Health England, shows that vaping is 95 percent safer than using combustible cigarettes.</p> <p> An outbreak of a mysterious lung illness last fall, however, called into question vaping&rsquo;s safety, igniting a scare that has led to heightened anxiety over use of the products.&nbsp;The illness has now&nbsp;<a href="">claimed</a>&nbsp;the lives of 57 people and injured more than 2,500 more, fueling panic among people concerned over the use of vaping products that have been blamed for the outbreak.</p> <div> <div> Contrary to how it was portrayed in the media, the illness was caused primarily by black-market THC (marijuana) products used in vaping devices, and not flavored e-cigarette products as the media and opponents of e-cigarettes have depicted.</div> </div> <p> Despite the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration both pointing at THC products sold on the black market as the true culprits in the outbreak, vaping hysteria has remained in full bloom as cities and states continue to consider outright bans of effective and far less harmful products essential to helping smokers quit smoking.</p> <p> Federal agencies and major public health organizations have also continued to hype the risks of using e-cigarettes, citing skyrocketing rates of youth vaping and nicotine addiction.&nbsp;Click on almost any American public health association&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="">website</a>&nbsp;<a href="">pages</a>&nbsp;on&nbsp;<a href="">vaping</a>&nbsp;and find no shortage of information warning about the rising rates of teenage vaping and the dangers of e-cigarette products.</p> <p> The data used to determine teenage vaping rates, however, show no &ldquo;epidemic&rdquo; among the nation&rsquo;s young people, as the FDA has declared.&nbsp;The CDC data shows &ldquo;current e-cigarette use&rdquo; among teens shot up from 1.5 percent in 2011 to more than 20 percent in 2018 and spiked 78 percent from 2017 to 2018. The CDC shows that in 2019, one in ten middle school students and one in four high school students reported using e-cigarettes. A dramatic increase indeed, but a misleading one at that.</p> <p> The CDC defined &ldquo;current e-cigarette use&rdquo; in its&nbsp;<a href="">studies</a>&nbsp;as any teen who has vaped just once in a 30-day period, which would include individuals who have simply tried an e-cigarette but are not habitual users.</p> <p> <strong><span style="background-color:#cde9ec;">Julie Gunlock, the director of the Center for Progress and Innovation at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, wrote that the CDC&rsquo;s data does not support declaring youth vaping as an &ldquo;epidemic.&rdquo;</span></strong></p> <p> <strong><span style="background-color:#cde9ec;">&ldquo;This type of use is more likely reflective of a teen who wants to look cool at a party or fit in with his or her friends,&rdquo; Gunlock wrote.</span></strong></p> <p> The focus on deterring youth vaping, however, has distracted public health professionals from their primary battle against cigarettes, the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. The CDC&nbsp;<a href="">reports</a>&nbsp;that more than 480,000 Americans die from cigarette smoking every year.&nbsp;<a href="">According</a>&nbsp;to Vice News, at least nine U.S. states have implemented some kind of ban on vaping products.</p> <p> <strong><span style="background-color:#cde9ec;">&ldquo;Nobody cares about adult smokers,&rdquo; Gunlock told The Federalist. &ldquo;The consequences all along of these prohibitions is that we&rsquo;re going to see a growing black market&hellip; We are going to see rising smoking rates&hellip; And we will see zero diminishments in teen vaping, which was the goal of these bans.&rdquo;</span></strong></p> <p> While President Donald Trump ultimately&nbsp;<a href="">backed down</a>&nbsp;from a federal ban on flavored vaping products, more state and municipal regulations are coming.&nbsp;Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University is one of the nation&rsquo;s leading experts on youth and tobacco use. Siegel worries that the next wave of misguided regulation and misleading information about vaping&rsquo;s safety will only hamper opportunities for more smokers to kick their addiction to cigarettes.</p> <p> &ldquo;Hysteria is fueling what I believe to be bad public policy,&rdquo; Siegel told The Federalist. &ldquo;Misinformation is affecting public attitudes and is going to deter people from switching from traditional cigarettes.&rdquo;</p> <p> Siegel also criticized public health organizations for being so laser-focused on youth vaping that they have left smokers behind in the process, depriving smokers of what have been&nbsp;<a href="">proven</a>&nbsp;to be the most successful forms for smoking cessation.</p> <p> &ldquo;Public health organizations have completely lost sight of the fact that smoking is the number one cause of preventable death,&rdquo; Siegel said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve largely abandoned smokers, and they don&rsquo;t seem to care anymore about helping save lives. They&rsquo;ve quickly just given up on them.&rdquo;</p> <p> As mass hysteria continues to draw smokers away from electronic cigarettes, more will die deprived of life-saving resources that could have given them many more years to live.</p> <p> <em>Tristan Justice is a staff writer at The Federalist focusing on the 2020 presidential campaigns. Follow him on Twitter at&nbsp;<a href="">@JusticeTristan</a>&nbsp;or contact him at&nbsp;</em></p> GunlockFri, 10 Jan 2020 10:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFDA’s Vape Ban Is What Happens When People Legislate What They Don’t Understand<div> <em>This article is written by Katherine Timpf, reporter for&nbsp;National Review Online. &nbsp;</em></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> On Thursday, the Trump administration announced that it would ban the sale of pre-filled flavored e-cigarette cartridges nationwide &mdash; which is both a terrible idea and a perfect example of what happens when government officials insist on legislating what they don&rsquo;t understand.</div> <div> <p> Yes: I myself vape, and that&rsquo;s part of the reason why this news upsets me. What&rsquo;s more, as a vaper who has tried &ldquo;open tank&rdquo; systems &mdash; which the administration exempts from the ban &mdash; I find absolutely no solace in this fact, as I know from experience how fiddling with these sorts of systems often inevitably results in your hands and furniture and purses and life getting completely soaked with nicotine liquid.</p> <p> My personal use, however, is far from the only reason that I am upset about this ban. In fact, the&nbsp;main reason&nbsp;I&rsquo;m opposed to it is that it may, quite frankly, kill people.</p> <p> See, President Trump insists that the purpose behind the ban is to &ldquo;protect our families,&rdquo; but the truth is, anyone who is informed on the&nbsp;facts&nbsp;of the issue would understand how it will only have a negative impact.</p> <p> In case you yourself aren&rsquo;t informed, here are some of those facts.</p> <p> <strong><span style="background-color:#cde9ec;">First of all, the narrative that we are in the midst of an epidemic of young kids getting addicted to vaping is patently false. Although many of them may have tried it, Julie Gunlock&rsquo;s&nbsp;</span><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"><span style="background-color:#cde9ec;">analysis</span></a><span style="background-color:#cde9ec;">&nbsp;of CDC data finds that only approximately 5.7 percent of teenagers &mdash; including 18- and 19-year-old&nbsp;adults&nbsp;&mdash; are actually addicted.</span></strong></p> <p> Another misconception is that vaping nicotine is deadly, and perhaps even worse than smoking. This also couldn&rsquo;t be further from the truth. In fact, experts agree that it is, at least for adults,&nbsp;much&nbsp;safer than smoking traditional combustible cigarettes. A Public Health England study, for example,&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">estimated</a>&nbsp;that it was 95 percent safer.</p> <p> Many people, of course, argue this point by referring to the illnesses and deaths that were attributed to &ldquo;vaping&rdquo; throughout the United States in 2019. This, too, represents a simple misunderstanding of the facts. According to the CDC, the vast majority of the illnesses and deaths were due to THC vaping products &mdash; particularly those that had been obtained on&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">the black market</a>&nbsp;&mdash; containing Vitamin E acetate. In fact, when I spoke with Carrie Wade (the director of harm-reduction policy at the R Street Institute, who also has an educational background in neuroscience and pharmacology), she&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">told me</a>&nbsp;that &ldquo;it would surprise&rdquo; her if &ldquo;any&rdquo; of the illnesses or deaths were due to nicotine. She said that she believed that people who admitted only to vaping nicotine might simply be &ldquo;hesitant to admit&rdquo; that they had been using a marijuana product as well, especially if they were teens &mdash; because, due to the difference in the chemical properties of nicotine from those of THC, she &ldquo;doesn&rsquo;t see a need for the problematic type of chemical to be in a nicotine product&rdquo; at all.</p> <p> The concerns that vaping might be some sort of gateway to smoking combustible cigarettes, even if vaping products are still available, are equally unfounded. According to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, although there has been a rise in &ldquo;youth e-cigarette use,&rdquo; the exact same data also shows that the rate of teenagers smoking traditional combustible cigarettes has&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">continued</a>&nbsp;to fall &mdash; which wouldn&rsquo;t be the case if the vaping-leads-to-smoking theory held any water. In fact, in a&nbsp;<a href=";reflink=article_email_share" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Wall Street Journal</a>&nbsp;piece about how Britain&rsquo;s vaping policy is much smarter than that of the United States, Matt Ridley notes that &ldquo;less than 1% of vapers are people who have never smoked, and there is little sign of young people taking it up faster than they would have taken up smoking.&rdquo;</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockMon, 6 Jan 2020 16:01:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBreaking News: Nerf Guns aren't Real Guns<p> A consumer group made headlines last week when the organization&rsquo;s president <a href="">wrote a letter to toy company Hasbro </a>demanding the company stop selling &ldquo;assault style&rdquo; Nerf guns.</p> <p> The letter stated, &ldquo;&hellip;as the holidays approach, we are reminded of our mission to protect the safety of children.&rdquo;</p> <p> I&rsquo;m the mother of three boys and my children own approximately 3,000 Nerf guns. My boys regularly open carry their Nerf guns in our back yard. Occasionally they even run to the front yard where they can be seen by passing motorists. Amazingly, vehicles continue to pass our house and sometimes, brave people even sometimes stop by our well-armed and heavily guarded house.&nbsp;</p> <p> Despite living in a dark blue city crawling with Moms Demand Action anti-constitutionalists, my children even bring their Nerf guns to other people&rsquo;s houses so that they can play with the kids of parents who are solidly pro-gun control. It&rsquo;s so weird that no one has called me to object or ask that my kids keep their &ldquo;assault-style&rdquo; weapons at home.&nbsp;</p> <p> In what can only be called a miracle, my children and their friends are all still alive and haven&rsquo;t experienced any gun-related injuries. None of my children have spent time in jail, nor have their friends who are clearly accessories in these gun crimes.&nbsp;</p> <p> I&rsquo;m just spit balling here, but my best guess as to why my kids haven&rsquo;t died or killed anyone is because Nerf guns actually use foam darts and balls and lightweight plastic disks. Because, you know, Nerf guns are TOYS!</p> <p> Perhaps the Empire State Consumer Project, <a href="">which is staffed by two women and runs on a budget of around $3,500</a>, doesn&rsquo;t understand that Nerf guns aren&rsquo;t real. Or maybe this group is preying on the very real concerns parents have about gun violence and is using these tragedies in order to further a political goal.&nbsp;</p> <p> That&rsquo;s pretty gross. Yet, sadly this approach appeals to a certain demographic of moms, who might be shocked when their sweet child suddenly wants to play cops and robbers or other aggressive games and can&rsquo;t understand why their boys want to turn their fingers, sticks, cardboard boxes, or really anything (remember <a href="">pop tart gun</a>?) into a weapon. And naturally, it&rsquo;s easy to blame toys, like Nerf guns, on this phenomenon (heretofore known as normal boy behavior).&nbsp;</p> <p> Years ago, I met a mom outside my children&rsquo;s preschool who told me she&rsquo;d banned all sorts of toy weapons from her home. No cowboy-style toy rifles or six-shooters, no Nerf guns, star wars blasters or light sabers, no pirate swords, or sling shots, etc. She didn&rsquo;t even like imaginative play involving aggressive behavior.&nbsp;</p> <p> Her son, she said, would play with art supplies, he&rsquo;d read, do puzzles, sing and only play with &ldquo;learning toys.&rdquo;</p> <p> I smiled. This was her first son. I was on my third. I knew she&rsquo;d soon learn that her boy would find ways to make a weapon out of anything (I giggled when he came out of class one day with a paper sword and shield) and would constantly astonish her with his aggressiveness -- his desire to run, climb, stomp, destroy, damage, and CONQUOR!&nbsp;</p> <p> The next year, she bemoaned this exact situation. She was so confused why her sweet, little boy insisted on playing war and robbers and cowboys with his little friends. Why was he so loud and physical? Why did he want to fight and act so savage? Mostly she was confused and concerned that he seemed to turn everything into a gun&mdash;including his own fingers!</p> <p> Three years later, my friend had given up. In fact, for my own son&rsquo;s birthday party during that last year of preschool, her son actually gave my son a Nerf gun. I ribbed her a little and reminded her of her commitment to keep her home a gun free zone. She laughed and showed me a picture on her phone&mdash;it was a basket in her son&rsquo;s room&hellip;filled with all sorts of weapons.&nbsp;</p> <p> The duo at the Empire State Consumer Project might not have kids. Perhaps they&rsquo;ve never had boys. More likely, they don&rsquo;t care about the natural behaviors of kids nor do they care that both parents and kids are smart enough to know that Nerf guns aren&rsquo;t real. They have an agenda to push and they&#39;ll deny common sense to reach their anti-gun goal.&nbsp;</p> GunlockMon, 23 Dec 2019 09:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Latest on Vaping<p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">On this latest podcast, Independent Women&rsquo;s Law Center director Jennifer Baceras and I discuss the latest updates on vaping&mdash;from the White House&rsquo;s threat to ban all vape products and e-cigarette flavors to the latest lawsuit against Juul, and the continued narrative that there&rsquo;s a teen vaping epidemic.&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">On the White House ban: In November, President Trump hosted both vaping advocates and anti-vaping activists at the White House to hash out the topic. Sadly, the anti-vaping activists&mdash;made up largely of billionaire Michael Bloomberg-funded organizations--were uncompromising in their desire to see all vaping products banned, even when vaping advocates pointed out that such a ban would drive most former smokers back to combustible cigarettes.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">Meanwhile, President Trump clearly understood the dangers of prohibition policies, saying to the meeting&rsquo;s attendees that he worried a ban on these products would strengthen and even grow a black market of products that are unregulated and untested. This, he said, could lead to more lung injuries. He&rsquo;s right. While the media, for months, characterized the lung injuries as &ldquo;vaping-related,&rdquo; the CDC finally announced in mid-November that the injuries were caused by illegally manufactured THC products that were contaminated with vitamin-E acetate&mdash;a dangerous substance to vape and is not legal in vape products.&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">Since that meeting, the White House has abandoned plans to ban vaping products, deciding instead to raise the age of legal vaping and smoking to 21. Other stop gap measures are being discussed, such as greater enforcement on illegal sales to minors and banning bulk sales of vape products, which ostensibly will reduce illegal sales to youth vapers.&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">On the lawsuits: Jennifer and I discussed a new lawsuit just filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James against e-cigarette company Juul. The lawsuit claims that Juul&rsquo;s marketed its products directly to youth, engaged in deceptive marketing practices, and illegally sold e-cigarettes to minors via its website and through third-party retail stores. The suit further alleges Juul advertising campaigns failed to warn consumers that Juul e-cigarettes contain nicotine, and falsely marketed them as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">Yet, there&rsquo;s an important new peer-reviewed study that shows that kids aren&rsquo;t even purchasing vape products directly on Juul&rsquo;s online website nor are teens obtaining them through third party retail stores (like convenience stores and vape shops).&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">The study, titled &ldquo;</span><a href="">Sources of youth access to JUUL vaping products in the United States</a>,&rdquo; which was recently published in the journal Addictive Behavior Reports, found that &ldquo;social sources&rdquo; are the primary way teens accessed JUUL products, NOT retail stores or online stores.&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">In fact, the study found that a whopping 79.6% of current underage JUUL users obtained JUUL products from legal age friends or peers. That means, teens aren&rsquo;t even entering a store or going online to purchase these items. Rather, teens are getting them from their friends who are of legal age to purchase them. The study also showed that 77.5% had obtained JUUL products </span>exclusively from social sources.</p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">So, here&rsquo;s the thing. The reasons anti-vaping activists say they want to ban Juul and other e-cigarette products and flavors is to keep them from kids. But is that really going to work if kids are getting them outside of these stores?&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">And at what cost? The costs are quite high in that if these bans are put in place, former smokers, who use e-cigarettes as a nicotine delivery system and in order to stay off of far more dangerous cigarettes, will return to traditional cigarettes in order to still get that hit of nicotine. That means, these people will switch from a 95 percent safer means of nicotine delivery to a far more dangers, cancer-causing source of nicotine delivery. That&rsquo;s a cost we shouldn&rsquo;t be willing to pay.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">As for the New York Attorney General&rsquo;s claim that e-cigarettes are not safer than traditional cigarettes, that simply isn&rsquo;t true and it&rsquo;s going to be hard for her to prove that when hundreds of peer reviewed, widely respected studies show the opposite. And while she can point to some U.S. based medical organizations (who benefit from both cigarette sale taxes and Bloomberg&rsquo;s anti-vaping largesse), who do not endorse vaping as a smoking cessation tool, there are as many pro-vaping professional medical organizations in England and Europe that endorse the overwhelming evidence that vaping is safer than smoking.&nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-a2d2d29d-7fff-a81d-cdc7-fc9d21e4df50">For more information on all of these topics, listen to the podcast </span><a href=",-frivolous-lawsuits,-and-worrisome-lung-infections">here</a>.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> GunlockMon, 23 Dec 2019 07:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLocal Issue Having Nothing To Do with Trump…Blamed on Trump<p> A county commissioner meeting in Chattooga County, Georgia got a little sticky last week when the county commissioner&rsquo;s wife poured a soda over a local reporter&rsquo;s head.&nbsp;</p> <p> Video of the incident suggests tension existed between the reporter Casie Bryant and commissioner Jason Winters prior to the meeting. In fact, in the video, the commissioner&rsquo;s wife, Abbey Winters, can be heard saying, &ldquo;you deserved that,&rdquo; immediately after the assault. And according to media reports, the night before the meeting, Bryant had commented on Facebook about Commissioner Winter&#39;s recent trip to Europe&mdash;saying &ldquo;fresh off his trip to Paris, he&rsquo;s ready to talk about the budget to the PUBLIC,&rdquo; suggesting she planned to look into the commissioner&rsquo;s foreign travel.&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet, Washington Post staff writer Meagan Flynn sees something much more sinister at play. While detailing the incident for her story, and even describing the tension that existed prior to the assault, Flynn&nbsp;<a href="">writes</a>&nbsp;that&hellip;actually, it was all Trump&rsquo;s fault.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> The incident comes amid mounting concerns about hostility toward journalists starting at the highest levels of government, with President Trump&rsquo;s frequent cries of &ldquo;fake news,&rdquo; and trickling down to local news.&nbsp;</p> <p> &hellip;</p> <p> Trump&rsquo;s broadsides against the media, both at his rallies and on Twitter, typically come in response to critical reports that he does not like.</p> </blockquote> <p> Maybe politics isn&rsquo;t local anymore.</p> <p> Or maybe it&rsquo;s just a lot of fun to make your job look like it&rsquo;s super dangerous and scary. Look, I get it. Who doesn&rsquo;t want to pretend they&rsquo;re a war correspondent or a reporter covering the mob or some sort of dodgy underground movement. Flynn clearly has the &ldquo;dog bites man&rdquo; beat at the Washington Post. Who can blame her for wanting to spice things up a bit.&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet, Flynn is deceiving the public by making this weak association. This is why &ldquo;fake news&rdquo; resonates with so many Americans&mdash;because the mainstream media&nbsp;<em>does</em>&nbsp;churn out fake news. And Flynn is a good example of how it&rsquo;s done, even when it comes to local news stories.&nbsp;</p> <p> The facts are clear: this was a local reporter sniffing around a local official&rsquo;s travel habits and most likely was hoping to produce a scoop on his misuse of local funds. Tension mounted and an assault happened&mdash;an assault with a non-deadly soda.&nbsp;</p> <p> Of course, Flynn&rsquo;s only pushing a narrative that&rsquo;s considered acceptable in media circles. Consider this headline earlier this year at NBC Nightly News:&nbsp;</p> <p> <strong><em><a href="">&ldquo;United States added to list of most dangerous countries for journalists for first time.&rdquo;</a></em></strong></p> <p> National Review&rsquo;s Jim Geraghty examined that story and found that the report on which the article was based shows the exact opposite. He <a href="">writes</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> The headline over at NBC News is shocking&hellip;and the statement from Christophe Deloire of Reporters Without Borders certainly makes it sound like a combination of political leaders and religious extremism are threatening the lives of America&rsquo;s reporters: &lsquo;The hatred of journalists that is voiced&hellip;by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen has tragic consequences on the ground, and has been reflected in this disturbing increase in violations against journalists.&rsquo;</p> <p> But the information in the&nbsp;<a href="">report</a>&nbsp;is&hellip;considerably less shocking. Here&rsquo;s the entirety of what the report says about the United States:</p> <p> &quot;The United States joined the ranks of the world&rsquo;s deadliest countries for the media this year, with a total of six journalists killed. Four journalists were among the five employees of the Capital Gazette, a local newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, who were killed on 28 June when a man walked in and opened fire with a shotgun. He had been harassing the newspaper for six years on Twitter about a 2011 article that named him. It was the deadliest attack on a media outlet in the US in modern history. Two other journalists, a local TV anchor and cameraman, were killed by a falling tree while covering Subtropical Storm Alberto&rsquo;s extreme weather in North Carolina in May.&quot;</p> <p> What happened at the&nbsp;<em>Capital Gazette</em>&nbsp;did not involve unscrupulous politicians or demagogic religious leaders. It involved a long series of open threats from an unstable, rage-filled man and the decision to allow the shooter to&nbsp;<a href="">plead guilty to stalking instead of harassment</a>&nbsp;back in 2011. Had the shooter been convicted of stalking, his felony conviction would have prevented him from purchasing a gun.</p> <p> A falling tree does not reflect &ldquo;hatred of journalists,&rdquo; unless Reporters Without Borders wants to argue that the tree&nbsp;<em>aimed</em>&nbsp;for those two unfortunate souls.</p> </blockquote> <p> Similarly, the unhinged wife of some local politician pouring soda over a reporter&rsquo;s head doesn&rsquo;t reflect hatred of journalists. Reporting it that way sure does reflect poorly on Flynn&rsquo;s trade though. The media must do better.</p> GunlockMon, 16 Dec 2019 00:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOn The First Day Of Christmas: Grande Memerè Boucher’s Tourtières <p> <a href=""><img alt="" class="pull-right" src="" /></a></p> <p> There are so many things to love about the holidays. Families spending time with one another, the cookies and candy, the presents and of course, my children&rsquo;s excitement Christmas morning as they race down the stairs to see the gifts under the tree.</p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">Food is central to our holiday traditions. As I wrote in</span><a href=""> this piece</a> a few years ago, my favorite Christmas food (really, we don&rsquo;t eat it any other time of the year), is Tourti&egrave;re&mdash;French-Canadian pork pie&mdash;which was a staple dish served during the holidays when my mother was growing up in New Hampshire, and which she carried on during my childhood. I&rsquo;m now serving it to my young family in an effort to keep the tradition alive.</p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">My Grande Memere Bouche&rsquo;s recipe is simple. It involves a double crust (you can use the pie crust recipe of your choice or buy ready made), ground pork, onions, a small amount of mashed potatoes (this keeps the filling in tact so that it doesn&rsquo;t just crumble after cutting) and a variety of Christmas-y spices, like allspice and nutmeg.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">The finished pie is savory yet mild. It&rsquo;s quite heavy so only a small slice is needed and it is best served with a sharp, astringent salad&mdash;like bitter greens dressed simply with olive oil and lemon, which helps cut the fat of the pie.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <u><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">Grande Memer&egrave; Boucher&rsquo;s Tourti&egrave;res</span></strong></span></u></p> <p dir="ltr"> <em><span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">makes two 9&rdquo; pies, each pie serves 8</span></em></p> <ul dir="ltr"> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">3 lbs ground pork</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">1 medium onion, chopped fine</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">1 cup water</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">4 tsp salt</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">1 tsp sage</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">1 tsp cinnamon</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">1 tsp cloves</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">&frac12; tsp mace (optional)</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">2 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced</span></li> <li> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">Double pie crusts for two 9&rdquo; pies (use your own recipe or </span><a href="">this one</a>)</li> </ul> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">In a large pot over medium heat, combine all ingredients except potatoes and crust and stir until the meat is cooked. Then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 90 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain off most of the liquid from the meat leaving several tablespoons of liquid after draining.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">In a separate pot, cook the potatoes until tender, then drain and set aside. Mash potatoes slightly with a fork and combine with the pork. Continue to mash together until blended (not all of the potatoes may be needed).</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">Divide the meat into the two unbaked pie shells. Cover each pie with the top crust. Make 3 steam vents in the top of the crust. Brush a bit of milk over the pastry.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-d07085b1-7fff-cbb1-4e93-29a0c76fa0ec">Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 350 and cook for about 15 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"> <span><img alt="" src="" style="width: 130px; height: 83px;" /></span></p> <p> <img alt="" src="" style="caret-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); color: rgb(0, 0, 0); width: 300px; height: 300px; margin: 3px;" /></p> GunlockFri, 13 Dec 2019 09:12:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGiving Thanks for a Strong Economy<p> From an economic standpoint, Americans have a lot to be thankful for: job growth, wage growth, a closing of the racial wage gaps, entrepreneurship growth, record low unemployment, a reduction in job-killing regulations, as well as a four-year high in homeownership. And according to a new Gallup poll, the American public has high confidence in the economy with 55 percent saying they believe the economy is doing either &ldquo;excellent&rdquo; or &ldquo;good.&rdquo; Only 9 percent thought the economy was doing &ldquo;poor.&rdquo;</p> <p> For women, there&rsquo;s even more to celebrate. The&nbsp;female unemployment rate is at a historic low. The U.S. now has 12.9&nbsp;million women-owned businesses. That&#39;s an 11 percent increase since 2016 when there were 11.6 million women-owned firms. Women started an average 1,817 new businesses per day in the U.S. between 2018 and 2019, greater than the daily average created before, during and after the recession through the end of the Obama Administration. And women franchise owners now make up 42 percent of the market, up from 20 percent just five years ago.</p> <p> But there&rsquo;s still much work to be done. Farmers are hurting in America due largely to the trade war with China. In August, China said it would completely stop purchasing American agricultural products, which is a huge blow to the market. To help farmers adversely impacted by the trade war, the Trump&rsquo;s administration has provided $28 billion in aid--which means, the farm bailout is more than twice as expensive as the 2009 bailout of Detroit&rsquo;s Big Three automakers, which cost taxpayers $12 billion.</p> <p> The trade war is also costing American businesses. According to the American Economic Association, import tariffs are costing US consumers and businesses that buy foreign goods 3.2 billion per month in added tax costs and another $1.4 billion per month in forgone trade.</p> <p> So, while the economy could be better and certain sectors need help, the overall outlook on the economy is good. That&rsquo;s good news for families. For that, I&rsquo;m thankful.</p> GunlockWed, 27 Nov 2019 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumVaping & Cannabis: Constitutional and Health Issues Govt Should Get Out of • Dr. Drew Midday Live GunlockTue, 26 Nov 2019 13:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTwo Truths and a Lie: Antibiotics in Meat<p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-158636e4-7fff-5dba-cbad-e2afca9d1597">Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker &ldquo;two truths and a lie.&rdquo;</span><br /> <br /> This week, millions of Americans are shopping for Thanksgiving groceries. Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about meat sold in the grocery store?<br /> <br /> A: All meat and milk sold in grocery stores is antibiotic-free.<br /> B: Dairy cows are pumped full of antibiotics to help them produce more milk.<br /> C: Animals, like humans, need antibiotics when they get sick or are injured.<br /> <br /> Let&rsquo;s take these statements one at a time:<br /> <br /> A: TRUE!<br /> <br /> Consumers have more choices at the grocery store than ever before. This is even true at the meat counter and in the dairy aisle. Often, consumers see certain meat and milk brands labeled &ldquo;antibiotic free!&rdquo; which seems to indicate the product is safer or better. It also usually carries a higher price tag.<br /> <br /> Yet consumers should know that all meat and dairy sold in the grocery store is antibiotic-free because it&rsquo;s actually illegal to sell meat and dairy that contains antibiotic residue. Yes, farmers are allowed to use antibiotics on animals, but the FDA actually regulates how farmers use them and requires the farmer to wait until the animal has fully eliminated those antibiotics from its body before the animal is slaughtered or milked.<br /> <br /> Meat and dairy are further tested before they hit grocery store shelves to ensure they are antibiotic free. In fact, according to the National Milk Drug Residue Database, milk tested positive in less than 2 out of every 10,000 tankers of milk in 2016. Milk that tests positive for antibiotics is discarded. So, there are multiple steps along the food chain to ensure consumer safety.<br /> <br /> Yet, in a competitive market, industries look for creative ways to make their product look better than their competitors. This is true of meat and dairy companies too. But don&rsquo;t be fooled. All meat and dairy is antibiotic free&mdash;even those not labeled so.<br /> <br /> B: FALSE!<br /> <br /> Dairy farmers care about their animals. After all, a dairy farm&rsquo;s profits rely on healthy, happy, and well cared for animals that are able to produce milk. One common myth of mistreatment is that dairy cows are regularly &ldquo;pumped&rdquo; full of antibiotics so that they will produce more milk. Yet, in reality, antibiotics are mainly used in dairy cows to cure specific issues as they come up&mdash;such as a sudden injury or a painful condition that&rsquo;s endemic in dairy cows&mdash;mastitis.<br /> <br /> Mastitis is the inflammation of the mammary gland and udder tissue. Mastitis can actually lead to permanent damage of the udder. This is also a common ailment in humans among breastfeeding mothers. Like cows, humans are cured with the help of antibiotics.<br /> <br /> Just like with beef production, dairy cows are taken off the milking line when receiving antibiotics and dairy farmers are required to leave them off the line until the cow has fully metabolized and excreted all antibiotic residues from its body. The farmer then tests the milk to ensure the milk is antibiotic free. Further tests are taken all along the food chain&mdash;from farm to market to ensure the milk is antibiotic free. These steps occur in all dairy production, labeled or not.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> C: TRUE!<br /> <br /> Animals, like humans, sometimes need medicine to recover from injuries or disease. In order to use the &ldquo;antibiotic-free&rdquo; label on packaging, meat and dairy companies must prove to the USDA that their animals have never been given antibiotics. Yet, this raises ethical questions about animal cruelty and suffering. Should these animals be made to suffer pain and discomfort and possibly death from diseases, infections and/or injuries that can be cured with the use of antibiotics?<br /> <br /> Consumers deserve to know that regulations on the meat and dairy industry require farmers to give animals who have received antibiotics time to fully rid their bodies of antibiotics after they have returned to a healthy condition. That means, meat and dairy labeled &ldquo;antibiotic free&rdquo; is no better or healthier, but it might have come from a suffering animal denied medicine to improve its life.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr"> <span id="docs-internal-guid-158636e4-7fff-5dba-cbad-e2afca9d1597">This Thanksgiving we can all be thankful that we live in a time and place where antibiotics are readily available for humans and animals, and that our food supply chain appropriately prioritizes consumer safety in the event that antibiotics are used.&nbsp;</span></p> <div> &nbsp;</div> GunlockTue, 26 Nov 2019 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTeen vaping clouds the debate over safer alternatives to smoking<p> When her teenage son collapsed in a seizure, it hit High Point mother Kelly Kinard. Luka was addicted. He was vaping the equivalent of 80 cigarettes per day, and it took sending him to rehab in California to get him to stop.</p> <p> &ldquo;We see our kid&rsquo;s futures going down the toilet,&rdquo; Kinard said. &ldquo;We saw him turn into an angry, reclusive, explosive, dishonest person that we didn&rsquo;t know. It was like living with a stranger, overnight.&rdquo;</p> <p> Teenagers have incited a battle over whether vaping is a help to adult smokers or a menace to children. The debate has shaken the giants of the vaping industry, threatened to send small vape shops up in smoke, and sent legislators scrambling for a solution.&nbsp;</p> <p> President Trump pushed a ban on flavored vaping products, regulators tightened their grip, and vaping advocates suggested the U.S. imposing a cap on nicotine, as Great Britain does.&nbsp;</p> <p> Then vapers marched on the White House, shaking its public stance on bans.&nbsp;</p> <p> The debate surged onto the floor of the General Assembly when House Minority Leader Darren Jackson, D-Wake, revealed his own child once vaped, and&nbsp;<a href="">pushed a vape tax</a>&nbsp;in the final days of November&rsquo;s session.</p> <p> Vaping has ignited an &ldquo;epidemic&rdquo; of teen use. In high schools, one in five students tried vaping. Some 3 million U.S. high school students vaped in 2018, a 78% jump in one year, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Students call vape pens the &ldquo;11th finger.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;I think we&rsquo;ve found a clever way to seriously addict a whole new generation of kids to nicotine,&rdquo; said Dr. Adam Zolotor, president of the N.C. Institute of Medicine, a health care research group that advises state policymakers.</p> <p> The rise of teen vaping has baffled legislators and teachers alike. Vapes share none of the telltale signs of cigarettes: they need no lighter and leave no odor &mdash; and the devices mimic everything from watches to flash drives to hoodie strings.</p> <p> &ldquo;With e-cigarettes, it was done commonly in the bathroom. But with Juuls, it&rsquo;s done in the classroom,&rdquo; Zolotor said. &ldquo;This is just so easy to do and get away with.&rdquo;</p> <p> Short of searching students on campus grounds, administrators have few ways to catch teen vapers. In desperation, some schools resorted to a blanket flashdrive ban. Others installed vape detectors, or removed bathroom stall doors.&nbsp;</p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s notoriously tough to catch,&rdquo; said Jonathan Bryant, Lincoln Charter School chief administrator. &ldquo;Even if you search someone, grab them by their ankles, and shake them down, it&rsquo;s still easy to hide it.&rdquo;</p> <p> Teenagers can&rsquo;t legally buy vaping products, so doctors worry teens are vaping unregulated, black market chemicals. Vaping triggered a seizure in one of Dr. Martha Perry&rsquo;s patients, who thought the only thing he was inhaling was the flavoring. Perry has no idea what caused his seizure.</p> <p> &ldquo;We really don&rsquo;t know, that&rsquo;s the thing,&rdquo; said Perry, UNC School of Medicine associate professor. &ldquo;What&rsquo;s scary is that they often don&rsquo;t know what is in it, or where it came from.&rdquo;</p> <p> Vaping swallowed half of Bryant&rsquo;s discipline cases last year, but he remains unsure how to discipline vapers.</p> <p> &ldquo;If someone is addicted, we can suspend them all day, every day. But how is that ultimately helping to change behavior?&rdquo; Bryant asked. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ll be honest, we don&rsquo;t have it figured out. &hellip; Ultimately, you can&rsquo;t force students or humans to do something that they truly don&rsquo;t want to.&rdquo;</p> <p> Nothing really exists to help kids or adults quit. Old technologies were crafted with cigarettes in mind &mdash; and they are antiquated when dealing with withdrawal from doses of nicotine far stronger than a cigarette, Zolotor said.&nbsp;</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to have this whole generation of kids addicted to nicotine, and we have the same tools to help them quit &hellip; none of which work that well,&rdquo; Zolotor said.</p> <p> The scare over the vaping epidemic &mdash; which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tied to black-market marijuana &mdash; has stirred up new fears about the health effects of vaping, which was once widely accepted as a healthier alternative to cigarettes.</p> <p> &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t know the long-term consequences of inhaling these flavors on a daily basis,&rdquo; said Ilona Jaspers, UNC School of Medicine toxicologist. &ldquo;We just don&rsquo;t know its effects on the lungs.&rdquo;</p> <p> But parents think they&rsquo;re already seeing the effects of sky-high nicotine levels &mdash; not just on their children&rsquo;s lungs but on their character. Kinard isn&rsquo;t alone in her experience with her son, said Dorian Fuhrman, co-founder of the advocacy group Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes.&nbsp;</p> <p> Like some cities and states, Kinard and her son, who both now campaign against vaping, support a full flavor ban. But vaping advocates blame nicotine, rather than flavored vapes, for the surge in teen use. They suggest capping the amount of nicotine, or banning the nicotine salts that ease the burning sensation of vaping.</p> <p> &ldquo;With cigarettes, you couldn&rsquo;t smoke too many in a row, or you&rsquo;d get sick,&rdquo; said Bradley Howell, The Juice Vapeorium shop manager in Cary. &ldquo;But with salt mixes, kids can down a whole pod like it&rsquo;s nothing, and that&rsquo;s just not healthy. Salt mix was the downfall of this industry.&rdquo;</p> <p> And harm-reduction advocates argue the panic over teen vaping is overblown. The CDC&rsquo;s general statistics counted students who vaped only once in 30 days instead of habitual users, who number between 800,000 and 900,000. Only 5.7% of American high schoolers regularly vape, said <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</span></strong></span></span>, a national policy think tank.</p> <p> &ldquo;No one is talking about the fact that teen and adult smoking is at a historic low. That&rsquo;s some good news, and we have to acknowledge that the availability of e-cigarettes has at least contributed,&rdquo; Gunlock said. &ldquo;What&rsquo;s so sad is that there are people who are quitting vaping and going back to smoking because of this panic.&rdquo;</p> GunlockTue, 26 Nov 2019 08:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTrump Administration Backs Away from Ban on Flavored E-Cigarette Products <p> Two months after President Donald Trump declared in the Oval Office that the White House would be moving forward with a broad ban on flavored e-cigarette products, the administration is now backing away from the effort.</p> <p> Since the announcement, the White House had been gearing up to formalize a ban on all flavored vaping products except for tobacco. Menthol-flavored products had initially appeared on the ban but were later included as an exemption.</p> <p> Supporters of the new executive guidance were anticipating the final details of the measure to be announced last week, though amid growing pressure from advisers and opponents of the new regulations warning such policies could wreak havoc on public health and impact Trump&rsquo;s base for re-election, the president has opted to retreat from the hardline approach set in motion two months ago.</p> <p> The idea to implement an executive ban on flavored e-cigarette products kicked into high gear as a mysterious lung illness stemming from vaping impacted more than 2,000 users and killed at least 39, including teens. The scare, which the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has blamed black-market THC products as the likely culprits, prompted policymakers already concerned over government data showing rising rates of adolescent vaping to take aggressive action on the issue.</p> <p> &ldquo;The fact that people are dying has created a greater sense of the need for urgent action across the board,&rdquo; Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids&nbsp;<a href="">told</a>&nbsp;the Washington Examiner. &ldquo;The fact that people are dying and we don&rsquo;t know the answer means that every parent is terrified that their kid is at risk. It means to political figures that they will be held accountable if they don&rsquo;t take strong action.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet while the CDC placed blame on black-market THC products and not flavored e-cigarettes as the likely source of the illness, the outbreak created a hysteria surrounding the use of e-cigarettes and highlighted the increasing number of teens using the flavored products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had already declared teenage vaping to be an &ldquo;<a href="">epidemic</a>&rdquo; last year.</p> <p> Opponents of the proposed regulations however, have warned that banning flavored vape products would possess catastrophic consequences on public health driving millions of ex-smokers back to traditional combustible cigarettes as is happening in states and localities that have implemented bans like Massachusetts.</p> <p> Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health, one of the nation&rsquo;s leading experts on youth and adult tobacco use, praised the administration&rsquo;s decision to back away from its aggressive stance.</p> <p> &ldquo;I think this decision is a big victory for public health,&rdquo; Siegel told The Federalist. &ldquo;Banning flavored e-cigarettes would have driven huge numbers of ex-smokers back to smoking and would have created a new black market for flavored e-liquids.&rdquo;</p> <p> E-cigarettes have indeed been shown to be the most successful forms of enabling those addicted to convention cigarettes to quit. A study&nbsp;<a href="">published</a>&nbsp;earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that more than any other nicotine therapy currently on the market, e-cigarettes have been the most effective form of quitting cigarettes.</p> <p> Siegel cautioned that the proposal would have motivated teenagers to experiment with THC products with the potential to make this year&rsquo;s mysterious lung illness an even greater problem.</p> <p> &ldquo;The administration and the FDA need to go back to the drawing board and develop a sensible policy to regulate both cigarettes and e-cigarettes in a way that will encourage smokers to transition to safer products and at the same time reduce the problem of youth addiction,&rdquo; Siegel argued. He suggests limits on nicotine levels in e-liquids and recommending raising the federal age required to purchase the products to 21.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock, the director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum&rsquo;s Center for Progress and Innovation</span></strong></span></span> has also written expensively on the vaping issue and lauded the president for taking the advice of advisors sounding the alarm on the potential dangers that such a ban could impose.</p> <p> &ldquo;This is great news for the millions of former smokers who vape,&rdquo; Gunlock told The Federalist. &ldquo;While I share the president&rsquo;s and first lady&rsquo;s concern about teen vaping, the solution isn&rsquo;t to ban safe products that help people quite combustible cigarettes. The solution is to enforce laws already on the books that state it&rsquo;s illegal to sell e-cigarettes and e-liquid to minors.&rdquo;</p> <p> The president was also warned of the economic impact that the flavor ban could have on small businesses in the industry. Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson sent a letter to the White House last week&nbsp;<a href="">urging</a>&nbsp;caution on the issue as the proposal could have essentially wiped out an approximately $9 billion industry.</p> <p> &ldquo;The costs of a ban on most e-cigarette flavors will almost certainly be substantial,&rdquo; Johnson warned. &ldquo;Many stakeholders in the e-cigarette industry are small businesses&mdash;over 10,000 according to some estimates &mdash;so an outright ban on the most popular flavors purchased by adults will likely force them to close.&rdquo;</p> <p> It seems for the time being, the industry may continue to operate, though new regulations of some kind are likely to come in the near future as policymakers seek to curb adolescent e-cigarette use.</p> GunlockMon, 18 Nov 2019 12:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWill The Trump Administration's Ban on E-Cigs Help Teens, Hurt Smokers, or Both?<p> The Trump administration has pushed to ban flavored electronic cigarette products in the wake of a vaping scare in mid-October, when a mysterious lung illness&nbsp;<a href="">affected</a>&nbsp;more than 2,000 people and killed at least 39, including teenagers.&nbsp;The disease caused widespread panic and highlighted the potential dangers of vaping, despite the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) attributing the outbreak to black-market THC products, not FDA-approved vaping products.</p> <p> &ldquo;The latest national and state findings suggest products containing THC, particularly those obtained off the street or from other informal sources (e.g. friends, family members, illicit dealers), are linked to most of the cases and play a major role in the outbreak,&rdquo; the CDC&nbsp;<a href="">said</a>&nbsp;in a statement.</p> <p> Yet the public health agency still recommended that the public refrain from using electronic vaping products altogether, as officials have yet to determine the root causes of the illness:&nbsp;&ldquo;At this time, FDA and CDC have not identified the cause or causes of the lung injuries in these cases, and the only commonality among all cases is that patients report the use of e-cigarette, or vaping products.&rdquo;</p> <p> The scare highlighted the growing use of vaping products among teenagers, lending credence to advocates of the Trump administration&rsquo;s efforts to curb e-cigarettes, particularly targeting flavored products that appeal to adolescents.</p> <p> Teenage vaping is indeed a problem. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially declared adolescent use of e-cigarettes an&nbsp;<a href="">&ldquo;epidemic&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;last year.&nbsp;<a href="">According</a>&nbsp;to the CDC, use of e-cigarettes among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent (220,000 students) in 2011 to 20.8 percent (3.05 million students) in 2018.</p> <h2 style="clear:both;"> Is Teen Vaping a New Epidemic?</h2> <p> Since public health officials have declared teenage vaping an epidemic, the Trump administration announced plans to ban flavored products altogether, with exceptions for tobacco and menthol flavors.&nbsp;<a href="">According</a>&nbsp;to Axios, the administration plans to finalize its ban in the coming week.</p> <p> Some, however, have called foul on the administration&rsquo;s characterizing of teenage vaping as an &ldquo;epidemic&rdquo; and have labeled the numbers supporting the FDA&rsquo;s conclusion misleading. <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock, the director of the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum&rsquo;s center for progress and innovation</span></strong></span></span>,&nbsp;<a href="">points out</a>&nbsp;the study the CDC used to justify the FDA&rsquo;s declaration of an epidemic defines &ldquo;current e-cigarette use&rdquo; as any teen who has vaped once in a 30-day period, which would include those who simply tried the products but are not regular consumers.</p> <p> &ldquo;Vaping once, twice, even five times a month does not make one a habitual e-cigarette user,&rdquo; Gunlock wrote. &ldquo;This type of use is more likely reflective of a teen who wants to look cool at a a party or fit in with his or her friends.&rdquo;</p> <p> Gunlock goes on to warn that if vaping weren&rsquo;t an option for these teens, they might take to experimenting with combustible cigarettes instead.&nbsp;Dr. Jonathan Klein, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Illinois-Chicago who specializes in adolescent medicine and smoking cessation, argues that the 30-day definition is a standard measure in modern medicine.</p> <p> &ldquo;The question that&rsquo;s used in the CDC&rsquo;s surveys is actually a pretty standard and well-validated question when it comes to any of the substance abuse issues,&rdquo; Klein told The Federalist. &ldquo;The data is quite sound, and comparing the data from year to year definitely would suggest that we have an epidemic with the rapid increase in rates of use.&rdquo;</p> <h2 style="clear:both;"> &lsquo;They Can&rsquo;t Make It Through the Six-Hour School Day&rsquo;</h2> <p> Stephanie McGeorge, an assistant principal at Westerville North High School located in a suburb of Columbus, has seen the problem first hand.</p> <p> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think I&rsquo;ve had a single cigarette this year&rdquo; be used among students, McGeorge told The Federalist. &ldquo;But vaping is at least once a week if not more.&rdquo;</p> <p> McGeorge said parents are worried about the problem, which she says has only escalated in the last three years. She now finds &ldquo;tons of students selling cartridges to each other.&rdquo;</p> <p> Mary Kloepfer is a public health teacher at the school. She said that while vaping was becoming a major issue last year, it has reached new heights recently. She has even put a new lesson plan into her curriculum solely focused on electronic cigarettes, separate from conventional smoking.</p> <p> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a huge problem,&rdquo; Kloepfer told The Federalist, adding that when kids get addicted, &ldquo;They can&rsquo;t make it through the six-hour school day&rdquo; without sneaking a quick puff.</p> <p> Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health is one of the nation&rsquo;s leading experts on youth and adult tobacco use. Siegel said that it is teenage addiction to vaping that is the problem, and not simply the high numbers of adolescents using the products.</p> <p> &ldquo;I think that simply the fact that a certain percentage of youth has used an e-cigarette in the last 30 days doesn&rsquo;t make it an epidemic,&rdquo; Siegel said. &ldquo;What is an epidemic is a large number of kids using e-cigarettes regularly, and in an addictive or habitual pattern of use.&rdquo;</p> <p> Doctors Klein and Siegel both agree that adolescent youths are more susceptible to nicotine addiction than adults, which is supported by data from the CDC&nbsp;<a href="">showing</a>&nbsp;that nine out of ten cigarette smokers inhale their first cigarette by the age of 18, and 98 percent try smoking by the time they are 26. Also, those who start vaping are at high risk of eventually turning to conventional cigarettes.&nbsp;<a href="">According</a>&nbsp;to a study conducted by the Yale University School of Medicine, teens who vape are seven times likelier to turn to traditional combustible cigarettes.</p> <p> &ldquo;Teenagers are more susceptible to nicotine addiction than adults because of the way their brains are developing,&rdquo; Klein said, adding that he fears excess exposure to the addictive chemical will hurt the developing brains of American youths.</p> <p> Siegel disagrees with the idea that using e-cigarettes will damage adolescent brain development. He believes the problem lies in how vaping addiction affects teenage behavior, such as interfering with academic studies and sleep. Kloepfer pointed out these are an issue in her school.</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not seeing a generation of brain-damaged kids. But we are seeing a generation of addicted kids and that&rsquo;s what needs to be stopped,&rdquo; Siegel said.</p> <h2 style="clear:both;"> Will a Ban Hurt More than Help?</h2> <p> Many fear that the administration crack-down on electronic cigarettes will strip a successful nicotine alternative to cigarettes from smokers trying to quit.&nbsp;Liz Sheld has benefited from using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.</p> <p> Sheld, who lives in the D.C.-metropolitan area, told The Federalist she has been off combustible cigarettes for more than two years thanks to the help of flavored e-cigarettes. Worried about the government&rsquo;s involvement in regulating new industries, Sheld learned how to make her own vape juices and now prefers pastry-cookie flavors in her devices as an alternative to cigarettes.</p> <p> &ldquo;I make my own juice now because I learned what happens when the government inevitably comes in to regulate an industry,&rdquo; Sheld said.</p> <p> Sheld&rsquo;s fears are turning out to be well-founded, as the Trump administration begins to implement bans on flavored products from manufacturers. Sheld says she already knows people who have returned to smoking regular cigarettes as a result of the hysteria surrounding the products.</p> <p> Siegel reiterated Sheld&rsquo;s concerns, pointing out that in Massachusetts where lawmakers have&nbsp;<a href="">joined</a>&nbsp;Michigan and New York in implementing temporary bans on vaping products, thousands of vapers are already reverting to cigarettes.</p> <p> &ldquo;I have no doubt,&rdquo; Siegel said of the possibility that Americans who have quit smoking return to cigarettes as opposed to other nicotine alternatives if Trump&rsquo;s ban is successfully implemented. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to see this on a massive, massive scale and it&rsquo;s going to have major public health consequences. What a tragedy that would be.&rdquo;</p> <h2 style="clear:both;"> Vaping the Most Successful Cigarette Stopper</h2> <p> Vape products have been shown to be the most successful nicotine alternatives to help smokers overcome their addiction to cigarettes.&nbsp;<a href="">According</a>&nbsp;to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this year, researchers found e-cigarettes to be the most effective form of quitting cigarettes as opposed to nicotine-replacement therapy.</p> <p> Dr. Klein still raised the alarm on the harmful impacts of e-cigarettes, arguing that use of the products are still not without health consequences. Klein notes that users of the products are at risk of cardiovascular disease from the nicotine use and adds that users are still being exposed to damaging chemicals by inhaling them, which Klein says warrants caution when advocating for their use, particularly among teenagers.</p> <p> Supporters of the Trump administration&rsquo;s efforts to crack down on e-cigarette makers have pointed to e-cigarette manufacturers&rsquo; advertising strategies targeting young people. Juul in particular has been chastised as a primary culprit seeking to build its enterprise on a new generation of addicted teens.</p> <p> Dr. Klein said it was obvious that the marketing tactics launched by e-cigarette companies such as promoting kid-friendly flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy were driving the vaping rates seen today. Klein also pointed to the popularizing the products through publicizing &ldquo;pro-social images associating the products with a healthy, active lifestyle.&rdquo;</p> <p> Dr. Siegel, who has written the book, &ldquo;Marketing Public Health: Strategies to Promote Social Change,&rdquo; said he doesn&rsquo;t see company advertising to be the primary driver of adolescent use.</p> <p> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see a lot of evidence for that,&rdquo; Siegel said. Instead, Siegel pointed to a culture of vaping that has developed among young people, especially propelled by social media that has lead to the spike in nicotine addicted teens. &ldquo;Vaping has just become a cool thing.&rdquo;</p> <p> Despite the company&rsquo;s claims that it does not target adolescents, it has been well documented that Juul has done so,&nbsp;<a href="">primarily</a>&nbsp;in the early days of its marketing. One company representative even went to a high school<a href="">&nbsp;informing</a>&nbsp;students that the products were &ldquo;totally safe.&rdquo;</p> <p> Juul has since pledged to change its marketing strategy under the threat of new federal regulations. In October, the San Francisco company&nbsp;<a href="">agreed</a>&nbsp;to stop advertising to young people in a settlement with a California nonprofit. As part of the agreement, Juul will limit its advertising to media where at least 85 percent of the consumer audience is aged 21 and over. The company has also promised to stop advertising on social media, and will not allow its employees to visit schools in any capacity related to their work with Juul.</p> GunlockMon, 11 Nov 2019 10:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMedia’s Fair Treatment of Gun Advocates<p> The Today Show deserves a lot of praise for hosting two Second Amendment advocates during the show&rsquo;s 3<sup>rd</sup> hour. Anchor Craig Melvin had a very civil, fair, and productive conversation with Brandon Wolf, a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting and Rhonda Ezell, an active member of the National Rifle Association, and the founder of Chicago Guns Matter.</p> <p> Wolf&rsquo;s explains that his passion for gun rights started after two of his closest friends died in the nightclub shootings. Ezell, who lives on the South Side of Chicago explained that regular gang violence makes her want to be prepared. She&rsquo;s even helping her 9-yo daughter learn how to responsibly use firearms, stating that when her daughter goes off to college &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not going to be #metoo, its going to be a NOT ME!&rdquo;</p> <p> Responding to Melvin&rsquo;s question about polarizing this issue is for the American public, Ezell responded that, &ldquo;&hellip;just because you may not see eye to eye with an individual, doesn&rsquo;t mean you can&rsquo;t sit down at the table and communicate&rdquo; adding that Americans can easily agree on three points:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> We all want to be safe.</li> </ul> <ul> <li> We want the violence to stop.</li> </ul> <ul> <li> We don&rsquo;t want mentally ill people who are a threat to themselves and others to have firearms.</li> </ul> <p> Ezell also bemoaned the fact that this issue has become so politicized, saying, &ldquo;The Second Amendment isn&rsquo;t Republican thing. It&rsquo;s not a Democrat thing. It&rsquo;s an American thing.&rdquo;</p> <p> Watch the whole interview <a href="">here.</a></p> GunlockWed, 6 Nov 2019 09:11:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum