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 White House Vaping Ban Will Hurt Smokers Trying to Quit<p> <span style="font-size:12px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"><img alt="" height="78" src="" width="250" /></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Immediate Release:<br /> September 11, 2019</span></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size:22px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"><strong>White House Vaping Ban Will Hurt Smokers Trying to Quit</strong></span></span><br /> <span style="font-size:18px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"><em>Developing effective policies to keep teens from vaping shouldn&#39;t sweep aside useful products</em></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Washington, DC &mdash; In response to the announcement that the Trump administration is considering a ban on flavored vaping products,&nbsp;<strong>Independent Women&#39;s Forum Center for Progress and Innovation Director Julie Gunlock </strong>issued the following statement:</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">&quot;This is terrible news for the millions of Americans who continue to smoke and are desperately trying to quit. We know e-cigarettes help people quit smoking. In fact e-cigarettes are twice as effective as other smoking cessation products, like gum and patches. As for flavors, studies show that it isn&rsquo;t just teens using these flavors&mdash;adults too prefer sweet and fruit flavors. We understand the White House&rsquo;s concerns about vaping but the administration shouldn&rsquo;t throw the baby out with the bath water. Recognizing that e-cigarettes are a useful tool in the effort to get people to stop smoking shouldn&rsquo;t be swept aside in the effort to developing effective policies to keep teens from vaping.&quot;</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Additional resources from Independent Women&#39;s Forum:</span></span></p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">What&rsquo;s the difference between smoking and vaping? And is vaping safer? <a href="">Check out IWF&#39;s policy focus on e-cigarettes.</a></span></span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Hear one woman&rsquo;s story about <a href="">how e-cigarettes helped her quit smoking on IWF&#39;s podcast.</a>&nbsp;</span></span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Is there a teen vaping epidemic? <a href="">View IWF&#39;s article and video addressing teen vaping.</a>&nbsp;</span></span></li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Did you know women have a low success rate of quitting smoking when they use nicotine patches and gum? Women have a far higher rate of success when they use e-cigarettes. <a href="">Read IWF&#39;s testimony before the FDA on smoking.</a>&nbsp;</span></span></li> </ul> <p style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">####</span></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"><a href=""></a></span></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"><em>Independent Women&#39;s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren&rsquo;t just well intended, but actually enhance people&rsquo;s freedom, choices, and opportunities.</em></span></span></p> GunlockWed, 11 Sep 2019 16:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs There A Teen Vaping Epidemic?<p> This summer, I wrote a blog about the FDA&rsquo;s crackdown on e-cigarettes and the agency&rsquo;s missed opportunity to create a regulatory framework that supports new and innovative smoking cessation products, which current smokers who are trying to quit desperately need.</p> <p> Embedded in that long-form blog, was some information about teen vaping, arguably one of the major concerns parents have today. Sadly, there&rsquo;s a tremendous amount of misinformation out there&mdash;most of it produced and promoted by the very agency in charge of providing accurate information on health issues.</p> <p> Here what those agencies won&rsquo;t tell you: There is no teen vaping epidemic. Let me repeat that.</p> <p> <strong>There is no teen vaping epidemic.</strong></p> <p> Yes, teens are vaping, and yes, the numbers have risen. Yet, the FDA is inflating the number of teen e-cigarette users in order to make the problem appear worse than it actually is.</p> <p> Why would they do that?</p> <p> It&rsquo;s simple. To generate public support for bans on e-cigarette products (such as the one just instituted in Michigan).</p> <p> The truth is, public health officials hate vaping. While they have reluctantly admitted that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking (by about 95 percent!) they still hate these innovative products for two reasons: 1) e-cigarettes too closely mimics the physical act of smoking and, 2) e-cigarettes deliver nicotine&mdash;a substance they dislike because it&rsquo;s addictive.</p> <p> To public health officials all addictive substances are bad even if the addiction doesn&rsquo;t lead to any real harm. For instance, I&rsquo;m addicted to caffeine, as are most adults I know but there aren&rsquo;t any real negative side effects of caffeine addiction (besides me being a complete jerk if I don&rsquo;t get at least two cups in the morning).</p> <p> Nicotine addiction, like caffeine, doesn&rsquo;t result in any real negative health consequences (yes, increased heart rates and other mild physical symptoms are related to nicotine but nothing actually dangerous). Yet to a public health official, there&rsquo;s no spectrum of addictive substances ranging from very dangerous (fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, alcohol) to not so dangerous (caffeine and nicotine). It&rsquo;s all BAD and it must be banned.</p> <p> So, let me explain these inflated numbers. The FDA based their &ldquo;teen vaping epidemic&rdquo; claims on a &nbsp;CDC study of teen e-cigarette use called &ldquo;Notes from the Field: Use of Electronic Cigarettes and Any Tobacco Product Among Middle and High School Students &mdash; United States, 2011&ndash;2018.&rdquo; Here is where the report mentions that 78% figure (emphasis mine):</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> Among high school students, current e-cigarette use increased from 1.5% (220,000 students) in 2011 to 20.8% (3.05 million students) in 2018 (p&lt;0.001) (Figure). During 2017&ndash;2018, <strong>current e-cigarette use increased by 78%</strong> (from 11.7% to 20.8%, p&lt;0.001). The proportion of current e-cigarette users who reported use on &ge;20 of the past 30 days increased from 20.0% in 2017 to 27.7% in 2018 (p = 0.008). Among high school students, during 2017&ndash;2018, current use of any flavored e-cigarettes increased among current e-cigarette users (from 60.9% to 67.8%, p = 0.02); current use of menthol- or mint-flavored e-cigarettes increased among all current e-cigarette users (from 42.3% to 51.2%, p = 0.04) and current exclusive e-cigarette users (from 21.4% to 38.1%, p = 0.002).</p> <p> That certainly seems frighteningly high. Yet, the CDC only arrives at that percentage because the agency defines &ldquo;current e-cigarette use,&rdquo; as any teen who has used an e-cigarette <strong><em>once</em></strong> in a 30-day period. Vaping once, twice, even five times a month <em>does not</em> make one a habitual e-cigarette user just like drinking one glass of wine a month does not make you an alcoholic. A teen using an e-cigarette once a month&mdash;while not desirable&mdash;is not earth shattering news, nor is it an indication of some massive problem among teens. Rather it&rsquo;s more reflective of a teen that wants to look cool at a party or fit in with his or her friends.</p> <p> Of course, that&rsquo;s behavior we would all would prefer didn&rsquo;t happen, but it is also worth considering that, if vaping wasn&rsquo;t an option, these teens might instead experiment with much more harmful combustible cigarettes instead.&nbsp;</p> <p> In addition, the CDC did not determine if users were using vaping liquid with nicotine or without nicotine. The fact is, many teens vape using liquid that contains no nicotine. Teens aren&rsquo;t dumb and many, who want to appear to be partaking in the latest fad, are aware that nicotine is addictive. It makes sense that some may want to avoid addiction and therefore choose vape liquid that&rsquo;s free of nicotine. In doing so, they aren&rsquo;t vulnerable to the physical addiction of nicotine. Yet, the CDC didn&rsquo;t check this rather important detail and instead put all e-cigarette users in one large pot of users. And bam, you get an enormous number like 78 percent. Cue parent freak out.</p> <p> To add to the fears about vaping, many parents are told vaping is a gateway to traditional cigarettes&mdash;which, again, are much more harmful than e-cigarettes. Yet, while vaping has increased, the rate of smoking combustible cigarettes has declined. In 2018, only 4 percent of tenth graders smoked in the last 30 days&mdash;that&rsquo;s down from a high of 28.8 percent in 1976! And teen smoking (of traditional cigarettes) is at a historic low.</p> <p> The reality of teen vaping is far less dramatic than what&rsquo;s presented by the FDA and the CDC.</p> <p> Here are the real numbers:</p> <p> According to the CDC, the total number of high school students in 2018 was approximately 14,663,461. Of those, 20.8 percent or 3.05 million were &ldquo;current e-cigarette users&rdquo; which the CDC defines as using an e-cigarette once or more in 30 days. Yet, the CDC also says that, of that 3.05 million, 27 percent or about 845,000 are habitual e-cigarette users (vaping more or equal to 20 times per month). That means, around 5.7 percent of all high school students regularly vape.</p> <p> It&rsquo;s certainly a worthy goal to try to dissuade that 5.7 percent from vaping, but it should also be kept in perspective.</p> <p> What is true is that instead of nicotine, alcohol is the addictive substance most used by teens. Car accidents are the leading cause of accidental death among teenagers&mdash;many caused by drunk driving. These are the issues parents should be focused on.</p> <p> Parents need to talk to their kids about alcohol and about safe driving. Vaping is certainly something that parents should also discuss, along with avoiding cigarettes and drugs. But the hysteria about vaping is pushing out issues that demand parental attention. It&rsquo;s important to look at the data and to understand the way the CDC is measuring teen vaping and misrepresenting the issue, to the detriment of teens.</p> <p> Want to learn more? <a href=""><strong>Watch our video: Is there a teen vaping epidemic?&nbsp;</strong></a></p> <p> <iframe allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></p> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockThu, 5 Sep 2019 13:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBy Executive Order, Michigan Becomes First State to Ban Flavored Electronic Cigarettes<p> Michigan&rsquo;s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer invoked her executive authority Wednesday to make her state the first to ban sales of flavored e-cigarette products in an effort to reduce teen vaping.</p> <p> The temporary six-month&nbsp;<a href=",%20155.pdf" rel="noopener" target="_blank">ban</a>&nbsp;prohibits both online and in-store sales of all flavored e-cigarette cartridges except tobacco and will go into effect in the coming weeks, giving businesses 30 days to comply with the order.&nbsp;Whitmer argued the ban is necessary to combat a &ldquo;crisis&rdquo; of teen vaping, and&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">told</a>&nbsp;MSNBC she hopes the legislature will make it law.</p> <p> &ldquo;As governor, I&rsquo;m going to do it unilaterally until I can get the legislature to adopt a statute and write it into law,&rdquo; Whitmer said.</p> <p> &ldquo;Youth use of e-cigarettes has become a public health crisis,&rdquo; Whitmer said in a statement announcing the measure, noting that the rise in teenage use of the products is &ldquo;fueled by the availability of flavors akin to Fruit Loops, Fanta, and Nilla wafers.&rdquo;</p> <p> The order also restricts electronic cigarette makers&rsquo; advertising in the state, prohibiting companies from promoting their products as &ldquo;harmless.&rdquo;</p> <p> Teenage vaping is indeed on an upward trajectory, with federal and local officials cracking down on electronic cigarette makers for advertising that makes their products appeal to minors. San Francisco, California became the first city in the United States to&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">ban</a>&nbsp;the sale of flavored e-cigarette products,&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">followed</a>&nbsp;by Boulder, Colorado last week.</p> <p> The FDA has also been aggressive in targeting electronic cigarette makers, declaring it an&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">&ldquo;epidemic&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;and conducting&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">surprise raids</a>&nbsp;on manufacturers last year.</p> <p> Advocates of the flavored products argue, however, that they are critical to helping people addicted to smoking cigarettes quit.&nbsp;Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who led federal efforts against e-cigarette makers before leaving the agency for a think tank this year, has since called for a more cautious approach on regulating the products.</p> <p> Writing in the Wall Street Journal in June, Gottlieb&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">acknowledged</a>&nbsp;that e-cigarettes were less harmful to consumers than traditional cigarettes and argued for the FDA to pursue a pathway to keep the products on the market for smokers trying to quit while keeping them out of the hands of children and teens.</p> <p> As <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum</span></strong></span></span>&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">notes,</a>&nbsp;however, Gottlieb came down hard on e-cigarette makers and downplayed their benefits while playing up fears of teenage vaping.</p> <p> Gunlock also criticized Gottlieb&rsquo;s declaration of a &ldquo;teen epidemic&rdquo; of vaping while at the FDA, pointing out that the studies used to determine teen vaping to be an epidemic include surveys that exaggerate the number of teens actually using the products, defining &ldquo;current e-cigarette use&rdquo; as having vaped once over a 30-day period.</p> GunlockThu, 5 Sep 2019 11:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumStatement: Gov. Whitmer's Flavored Vaping Ban Will Hurt Those Trying to Quit Smoking<p> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"><img alt="" height="78" src="" width="250" /></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Immediate Release:<br /> September 4, 2019</span></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"><span style="font-size:22px"><strong>Statement: Gov. Whitmer&#39;s Flavored Vaping Ban Will Hurt Those Trying to Quit Smoking</strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">WASHINGTON, DC -- In response to Michigan Governor&nbsp;Gretchen Whitmer&#39;s rule banning flavored vaping products, Independent Women&#39;s Forum (IWF)&nbsp;Center for Progress and Innovation Director Julie Gunlock issued the following statement:&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;It&rsquo;s unfortunate for the people of Michigan that Gov. Whitmer has chosen to ban the very product that has helped so many quit the far more harmful habit of smoking traditional cigarettes. This government meddling will only lead to a thriving black market for flavored e-cigarette liquid at the very time when the FDA is investigating injuries likely caused by the illegal trade of these products. Michigan citizens deserve better, and they certainly deserve the right to purchase products that can help them extend their lives by quitting smoking.&quot;&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Read more from Gunlock on how the ban will drive smokers back to cigarettes on the <a href="">IWF blog</a>.&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">####</span></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif"><a href=""></a></span></span></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> <em><span style="font-size:14px"><span style="font-family:Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif">Independent Women&#39;s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren&rsquo;t just well intended, but actually enhance people&rsquo;s freedom, choices, and opportunities.</span></span></em></p> GunlockWed, 4 Sep 2019 16:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGov. Whitmer Creates Health Crisis in Michigan<p> Democrat Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer used her executive authority this week to impose a six-month ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. She claims the move will help slow the trend of teen vaping. It won&rsquo;t.</p> <p> Setting aside the fact that there&rsquo;s no teen vaping epidemic&mdash;either in Michigan or any other state&mdash;and that very few Michigan teens actually vape habitually or vape using nicotine (see my <a href="">longer blog</a> on that subject), Whitmer seems completely indifferent to the adult smokers who use e-cigarettes and flavored liquid as a means to quit smoking.</p> <p> (read my <a href="">policy focus</a> which explains the difference between combustible cigarettes and e-cigarettes).</p> <p> It&rsquo;s unfortunate for the people of Michigan that Gov. Whitmer and her staff missed the multiple (and easily googled) studies that have shown e-cigarettes have a far higher success rate in helping people permanently quit traditional cigarettes. It&rsquo;s also tragic that they missed the recent <a href="">study from the Centre for Substance Use Research</a> that shows adult e-cigarette users prefer sweet and fruit-flavored e-cigarettes liquid &ndash; the very product that&rsquo;s now banned in the state.</p> <p> Guess which flavor isn&rsquo;t banned in Michigan? Yup&hellip;tobacco flavor.</p> <p> Why does this matter? A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine by British researchers found vaping (using fruit and sweet vape liquid) is <a href="">twice as effective in helping smokers quit as nicotine patches and gum</a> -- the only two products currently approved by the FDA for smoking cessation. If adults prefer sweet and fruit flavored vape liquid over tobacco flavor, why would they switch over to vaping if the only option is tobacco flavor? Short answer: they won&rsquo;t.</p> <p> Michigan&rsquo;s policy will end up driving former smokers back to traditional cigarettes. In fact, a <a href="">recent study from Duke University</a> found that the very public health efforts designed to limit the availability and appeal of e-cigarettes to young users could drive some existing users back to traditional tobacco cigarettes.</p> <p> So, while Whitmer tries to reduce the mythical health crisis of teen vaping, she&rsquo;s creating another health crisis in driving smokers back to cancer-causing cigarettes.</p> <p> Considering the state of Michigan rakes in billions from the tax on the sale of traditional cigarettes, maybe Whitmer&rsquo;s happy with this deadly, yet profitable, moneymaking scenario.</p> GunlockWed, 4 Sep 2019 13:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDon’t Freak Out Before School Starts<p> A&nbsp;<a href="">new study</a>&nbsp;suggests getting kids ready for the school year is more stressful than ever. The study, which included 2,000 working parents, found that on average, parents have to complete 43 tasks before they get the kids out the door.&nbsp; &nbsp;Yikes!</p> <div> Adding to the stress is the constant drumbeat that those school supplies you need might be filled with deadly toxins. The headlines have already started:&nbsp;</div> <ul> <li> <p> <a href="">&ldquo;Toxic chemicals could be lurking in your children&#39;s school supplies&rdquo;</a></p> </li> <li> <p> <a href="">&ldquo;Some school supplies could contain toxic chemicals such as asbestos, report says&rdquo;</a></p> </li> <li> <p> <a href="">&ldquo;Before you go back-to-school shopping, read this report on toxic fashion&rdquo;</a></p> </li> </ul> <div> Yet, I urge moms to take a deep breath when they see these claims and question whether there&rsquo;s an actual risk of harm here, or if these claims are designed to make moms purchase more expensive &ldquo;natural&rdquo; products.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Unsurprisingly, when a mom reads words like &ldquo;lurking&rdquo; and &ldquo;toxic,&rdquo; it&rsquo;s sure to raise alarms. Lurking denotes invisibility and toxic suggests sickness and even death. There&rsquo;s nothing more terrifying to a mother than the threat of something she can&rsquo;t see or prevent from hurting her child.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Here&rsquo;s the good news: the invisible toxins referred to in those articles aren&rsquo;t present in doses that can actually harm anyone&mdash;especially since these products aren&rsquo;t being ingested by the child (of course, if your child is eating his or her backpack, lunchbox, or three-ring binder, you&rsquo;ve clearly got bigger problems).</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div style="text-align: center;"> <iframe allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> What&rsquo;s even more reassuring and rarely reported is that chemicals make things better and safer by making them more durable. Products that used to be made exclusively of breakable glass (like baby bottles) are now made of tough, hard-to-break plastic. Yes, that plastic contains chemicals, but the amount of chemical residue that leeches into the liquid contained in the bottle is so small that it&rsquo;s nearly undetectable in anyone&rsquo;s body.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> That&rsquo;s because most chemicals (like BPA, which make plastics harder) are quickly metabolized by the body and released through urination or sweat. Trace levels of BPA are sometimes detected in urine samples&mdash;because the body flushes it out so it doesn&rsquo;t stick around or accumulate.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Chemicals can also make products less expensive and easier to manufacture. Those savings are passed onto the consumer because one doesn&rsquo;t have to replace broken products as often. Moms should rejoice that we have longer-lasting products&mdash;like school supplies.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Competition exists in the marketplace. And today, many suppliers are trying to attract consumers by promising healthier, safer, more sustainable, environmentally friendly products.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> That&rsquo;s perfectly fine, and certain (usually wealthier) consumers are willing to pay those higher prices. It&rsquo;s the marketplace at work. Yet, consumers should be aware that manufacturers may exaggerate or leave out certain facts. For instance, you may see the phrase &ldquo;BPA-Free&rdquo; on many products. While that&rsquo;s true&mdash;many manufacturers no longer use Bisphenol-A (BPA) in their products&mdash;companies now use an alternative chemical to accomplish the same outcome. In many cases, manufacturers are now using Bisphenol-S (BPS), which is similar to BPA but which actually leeches more chemical into liquid (though still not at levels that are dangerous).&nbsp; So, while something may be labeled &ldquo;BPA-free,&rdquo; that doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s chemical free or even a better, safer product.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> The same is true with many beauty products. While the cosmetic and personal care industries have bowed to pressure to remover certain chemical preservatives&mdash;like parabens (which have been showed to be safe in hundreds of safety tests), companies simply replaced one chemical with another. By putting &ldquo;Paraben-Free&rdquo; on the label, the company is able to appeal to the consumer that fears chemicals while conveniently leaving out that they&rsquo;ve simply swapped it out with another, very similar, chemical preservative.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> It may sound trite, but my modest suggestion to moms is to try to relax as the school year approaches. Buy what you can afford, remind your children not to eat their school supplies, and ignore virtue-signaling marketing gimmicks and overwrought, hyperbolic news headlines about deadly backpacks.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> But mostly, moms should rejoice that their children will soon spend eight glorious hours outside the home.&nbsp;</div> GunlockWed, 4 Sep 2019 11:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWalmart to Stop Alaska Handgun Sales, End Sales of Short-Barrel Rifle and Handgun Ammo Nationwide • Steve Gruber Show GunlockWed, 4 Sep 2019 10:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTwo Truths and a Lie: Pesticides <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 pesticides?</p> <p> A: Pesticides are extremely dangerous to humans.</p> <p> B: Organic produce is grown using pesticides.</p> <p> C: Your child would have to eat 1,500 strawberries to reach the EPA&rsquo;s allowable limit of pesticide residue on fruit.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s take these statements one at a time:</p> <p> <strong>A: False!</strong></p> <p> The word &ldquo;pesticide&rdquo; is a broad term that captures the chemicals used to kill pests&mdash;from weeds and rodents to bugs, bacteria and fungi. Herbicides kill weeds, rodenticides kill rats and other rodents, bactericides kill bacteria, and fungicides kill fungi. When used properly, pesticides are safe.</p> <p> The EPA maintains strong standards for people who apply pesticides. In fact, in 2017, the EPA revised the certification standards for pesticide applicators in order to reduce the likelihood of harm from the misapplication of pesticides.</p> <p> According to a 2013 study funded by an independent watchdog group for work-related health and safety issues&mdash;agriculture workers who regularly worked with pesticides had lower than expected mortality from all causes, and in particular from all cancers combined.</p> <p> <strong>B: Truth!</strong></p> <p> Organic farmers also use pesticides. In fact, the USDA found that nearly <a href="">20 percent of organic lettuce tested positive for pesticide residues</a>. Yet that doesn&rsquo;t mean that organic lettuce was dangerous because trace levels of pesticide residues aren&rsquo;t harmful to humans.</p> <p> The USDA maintains a list of &ldquo;natural&rdquo; pesticides that organic farmers are allowed to use to control bugs and weeds. Yet &ldquo;natural&rdquo; pesticides are no safer than synthetic pesticides. In fact, in some cases, &ldquo;natural&rdquo; pesticides can be more harmful to the environment. For instance, rotenone--a pesticide allowed in organic farming--is far more toxic by weight than many synthetic pesticides.</p> <p> Pesticides help farmers increase or maintain their yields using smaller tracts of land. That&rsquo;s good for the earth and good for consumers hoping for lower costs on healthy food.</p> <p> <strong>C: Truth!</strong></p> <p> Both organic and conventionally grown food (which are nutritionally equal) are produced using pesticides, but this doesn&rsquo;t mean you or your children are in danger. Under the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), EPA must ensure that all pesticides used on food in the United States meet strict safety standards. The Environmental Protection Agency constantly tests the fresh fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores to ensure that pesticide residues levels stay below EPA standards. In addition, the EPA regulates and monitors how farmers apply pesticides. So all along the food chain, there are checks built in to ensure the safety of consumers.</p> <p> Just how miniscule are those pesticide residues? A child would have to eat 1,500 servings of strawberries to reach the <em>safe</em> level of exposure. Of course, a child&rsquo;s stomach can&rsquo;t hold that many strawberries so three or four conventionally grown (and cheaper) strawberries is not a health risk. In fact, eating a strawberry&mdash;organic or conventional&mdash;is good for children!</p> GunlockWed, 28 Aug 2019 07:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumLets Fix the Broken Gun Laws, Not Create More Restrictions • La Crosse Talk GunlockWed, 7 Aug 2019 10:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumGood News! No Need To Eat Your Placenta <p> Life can sometimes be weird. Here&rsquo;s a good example. I never thought I&rsquo;d write the words, &ldquo;no need to eat your placenta.&rdquo; But here I am, writing an entire blog about a new study that says just that.&nbsp;</p> <p> Never heard of this trend? Welp, it&rsquo;s been popular for a while now.&nbsp;</p> <p> Actually, placenta eating (seriously, I just wrote that) has been around for thousands of years. Historically, it&rsquo;s occurred in civilizations facing war or famine (because there was nothing else to eat!). Yet, its recent popularity in Western culture (where stocked grocery stores exist) has made scientists question its efficacy.</p> <p> For those who don&rsquo;t know, the placenta is an organ that develops in your uterus during pregnancy that provides oxygen and nourishment to the fetus through the umbilical cord. The placenta exits the body along with the baby. In more normal times, this bloody mass was immediately thrown away. Lucky moms didn&rsquo;t even see it (mercifully, I never saw any of the three I produced).&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet, in 2011, Robin Lim, a midwife and founder of a birthing center,&nbsp;<a href="">began promoting the idea</a>that there are legitimate medical benefits associated with eating one&rsquo;s placenta. Her main theory was that it would control postpartum hemorrhage. But soon, others claimed that eating one&rsquo;s own placenta helped women regain energy after delivery and increased milk production. I&rsquo;ve even seen claims that it helps with post partum depression (tip: it does not!). Of course, at the time, there were no studies that actually showed any of these stated benefits, but whatevs, it sounded good!</p> <p> In fact, placenta eating (I&rsquo;ll never feel good writing those words) fit in nicely with the &ldquo;mom harder&rdquo; era&mdash;which began in the late 90s and continues today. I mean, is there any better way to show you&rsquo;re committed to your baby&rsquo;s health than eating a placenta stir-fry (<a href="">pictured here</a>). This rather grotesque act was seen by many (particularly wealthy celebrities with money to burn) as the ultimate sign of love for one&rsquo;s child.&nbsp;</p> <p> In 2013, at peak placenta-eating popularity, the&nbsp;<a href="">Atlantic even offered this helpful information</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> &ldquo;The placenta can be eaten raw, or it can be incorporated into a special meal. Placenta recipes are a real thing that are on the Internet. &hellip; It can be cooked (usually steamed) then sliced, dehydrated, and encapsulated into a pill. Sometimes women freeze it in small chunks and blend it into a smoothie.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> Human offal smoothing, anyone?</p> <p> The pill version (where the placenta is dried, ground to a powder and put in capsules) soon became popular with a demographic of women who wanted to mom harder, but couldn&rsquo;t quite commit to the grossness involved in that decision. Now several companies exist to help women waste their money turning their placentas into pills&mdash;some charge as much as $300.&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet, according&nbsp;<a href=";">a new study published this week in&nbsp;<em>Nature</em></a>, researchers found that there&rsquo;s virtually no good reason to eat your placenta&mdash;in a smoothie, in a stir-fry, or even in pill-form. Atlantic writer Ed Yong&nbsp;<a href="">has a good summary</a>&nbsp;of the large and very thorough study (emphasis mine):</p> <blockquote> <p> Now, a team at the University of Cambridge has weighed in with one of the most comprehensive studies to date, involving placental tissue from more than 500 women. The researchers found&nbsp;<strong><em>no evidence of a consistent community of microbes that live in healthy placentas.&nbsp;</em></strong>The few signs of bacterial DNA they detected came either from contaminants or from harmful microbes that only rarely infect placentas. &ldquo;We spent a very long time thinking about how to remove and identify every source of contamination,&rdquo; says Julian Parkhill, one of the study&rsquo;s leaders. &ldquo;When we did that, we realized there was nothing left.&rdquo;</p> <p> &ldquo;This study, in my view, settles the matter,&rdquo; says Marie-Claire Arrieta from the University of Calgary, who wasn&rsquo;t involved. It&rsquo;s a reminder that DNA data &ldquo;can be easily misinterpreted,&rdquo; she adds, and that &ldquo;misinterpretations can become quite widespread.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> Yong concludes&nbsp;<a href="">his piece</a>&nbsp;by reminding the reader &ldquo;&hellip;entire fields of science have been built upon shaky, nonexistent foundations, to the waste of effort, careers, and taxpayer money.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p> These shaky theories also cause new moms to waste money on turning their placenta into pills. Women deserve better.&nbsp;</p> GunlockTue, 6 Aug 2019 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWould Gun Restrictions Help?<p> In the wake of the two mass shootings this weekend, activists are calling for more gun restrictions. But would that actually help?</p> <p> As Free Beacon writer Stephen Gutowski <a href="">reports on Twitter this morning</a>: (emphasis mine)</p> <blockquote> <p> Reports thus far indicates that the attackers in the recent shootings <em><strong>all passsed background checks</strong></em> to obtain their guns. The universal background check bill passed by the house earlier this year would not have had any effect on what happened.</p> </blockquote> <p> This means that the shooters didn&#39;t have a police record nor had either been adjudicated by a judge as mentally ill--two things that would have shown on the background check and stopped the sale of the guns. What sort of legislation can stop a law abiding citizen from buying a gun? It&#39;s a serious question. If a crazy or evil person has been law abiding up until the moment they are not, how do we stop them from legally purchasing a weapon they can use to harm and kill others?</p> <p> This knotty issue was dealt with in the movie &quot;Minority Report,&quot; which didn&#39;t really end well from a civil rights point of view.&nbsp;</p> <p> Outside of science fiction, there&#39;s really no easy way to deal with this issue, aside from banning private gun ownership entirely--a solution many want. But for those who respect lawful gun owners and care about the constitutional right to bear arms, what&#39;s to be done?</p> <p> One small solution would be to look at the laws and procedures already in place. To purchase a firearm, every individual must pass a background check. Yet, this system is flawed. Consider what happened in the Parkland school shooting in 2017. While the shooter did have a significant record with police, school officials, and county social workers, he was never charged with a crime (even though many of the calls to police were actionable and he clearly should have been arrested and charged). In fact, <a href="">CNN reported at the time</a>, that the police were regularly called to the shooter&#39;s home:</p> <blockquote> <p> CNN has found that the Broward County Sheriff&#39;s Office actually received 45 calls in the past decade related to the Cruz home, Nikolas Cruz or his brother -- even more than previously thought. The documents in question include call logs from the law enforcement agency&#39;s &quot;computer aided dispatch&quot; system.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p> He was even on the FBI&#39;s radar. <a href="">According to Vice</a>:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> A YouTube user named Ben Bennight sent a tip to the FBI reporting that another user named &ldquo;Nikolas Cruz&rdquo; had commented on one of his posts, saying, &quot;I&#39;m going to be a professional school shooter.&quot; He&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">told BuzzFeed News</a>&nbsp;the FBI came to his office to interview him the next day but that he did not hear from them again until a few hours after the shooting, when they called back asking for more information. Both times agents wanted to know if he knew anything about Cruz, which he says he did not.</p> </blockquote> <p> Yet, none of these incidents were entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database--which is the database used for background checks. That&#39;s why the <a href="">Parkland shooter was also able to purchase guns legally</a>.</p> <p> It&#39;s also worth asking, does expanding background checks to private sales and transfers (for example, my grandfather gave me his rifle before he died--that&#39;s considered a transfer) make sense? According to a 2019 study in the Annals of Epidemiology, California&rsquo;s implementation of the &ldquo;Comprehensive Background Check&rdquo; was not associated with changes in firearm homicides or suicides. Another law passed at the same time, which prohibited those convicted of violent misdemeanors from buying or possessing a firearm, also had no impact on firearm homicides and suicides.&nbsp;</p> <p> It&#39;s understandable that people want something--anything!--done to stop these mass shootings. But we need to examine the laws and procedures already on the books to see what&#39;s working before we layer on more laws that might actually make it harder for law abiding citizens to purcahse firearms.&nbsp;</p> GunlockMon, 5 Aug 2019 08:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBushnell Confesses<p> Earlier this week, &ldquo;Sex and the City&rdquo; it-girl Candace Bushnell admitted that she regrets not having children. In an interview with the Sunday Times Magazine, she admitted her 2012 divorce made her realize how not starting a family made her feel &quot;truly alone.&quot;</p> <p> &quot;When I was in my 30s and 40s, I didn&rsquo;t think about it,&quot; she recalled. &quot;Then when I got divorced and I was in my 50s, I started to see the impact of not having children and of truly being alone. I do see that people with children have an anchor in a way that people who have no kids don&rsquo;t.&quot;</p> <p> It&rsquo;s hard not to feel a bit of Schadenfreude here. I was a huge fan of HBO&rsquo;s &ldquo;Sex and the City,&rdquo; which was based on Bushnell&rsquo;s book. Yet as I got older, Bushnell&rsquo;s fictional doppelganger Carrie Bradshaw made me feel like I was missing out on all the fun. While I was spending my 30s having babies, breastfeeding at 3am, cleaning up puke and poop, and failing to shower for days on end, Bradshaw was living a glamorous life.</p> <p> Today, I&rsquo;m in my mid-40s, with three young children and the reassuring sense that I made some really good decisions when I was young. I missed out on some international travel and I can&rsquo;t afford Botox and various other procedures to make my skin taut, but I know I made the right decision. The difficult years and the sacrifice were worth it.&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet, while Bushnell&rsquo;s comment is heartbreaking, it also shows she remains completely clueless about female fertility. It&rsquo;s clear that Bushnell, now 60, thought she would have easily fallen pregnant when she was in her &ldquo;30s and 40s&rdquo; but that simply isn&rsquo;t true. Women are at peak fertility in their 20s. By 30 years, fertility starts to decline. This decline becomes more rapid once you reach your mid 30s. By 40, an average healthy woman has only a 5 percent chance of getting pregnant per cycle. And by 45, fertility has declined so much that getting pregnant naturally is unlikely for most women.&nbsp;</p> <p> Naturally, this (very real and very common) problem was barely addressed in Bushnell&rsquo;s famed series. Rather, the central message of the series was that women can and should delay marriage and children and even home ownership (I believe today these heretofore normal behaviors are all captured in the word &ldquo;adulting&rdquo;) in order to pursue their dreams of personal, professional, and sexual satisfaction. Bushnell&rsquo;s character Carrie Bradshaw also made clear that women should delay marriage until the perfect man (in her case the deeply flawed Mr. Big) proposes. Delay, delay, delay!&nbsp;</p> <p> Many in my generation did just that, only to be shocked when they didn&rsquo;t get pregnant easily in their mid to late 30s.&nbsp;</p> <p> Sure, the series did tiptoe around the consequences of these decisions, though late in the series--mainly in the last season and in the follow-up movies. For example, the series touched on Miranda change of heart on getting an abortion when she realized her unplanned pregnancy might be her only chance at motherhood. Charlotte&rsquo;s infertility was a central theme later in the show but her problems conceiving weren&rsquo;t age. Rather, the writers avoided culpability, making Charlotte&rsquo;s problems a rare biological issue. Uh huh.&nbsp;</p> <p> Meanwhile Carrie continued her pursuit of an unsuitable, married man&mdash;to the bitter end of the series. The discussion of children never seemed of interest to her, yet the writers always kept her age ambiguous&mdash;as if the decision to have children was hers and hers alone, no time limits for this ageless party girl.</p> <p> The legacy of &ldquo;Sex and the City&rdquo; is regret&mdash;a regret that Bushnell now admits. Millions of women, who, like Bushnell at 25, failed to look ahead and consider what they may want and need at 60, now must live with these decisions. Hopefully Bushnell&rsquo;s sincere confession will encourage a new generation of women to view her not as a role model but as a cautionary tale.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockWed, 31 Jul 2019 07:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumTwo Truths and a Lie: Vaccines<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 the measles vaccine?</p> <p> A: The measles (MMR&mdash;Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine is safe.</p> <p> B: The MMR vaccine does not cause autism.</p> <p> C: If your child is vaccinated, unvaccinated people can&rsquo;t hurt them or put them in danger of contracting an infectious disease.</p> <p> Let&rsquo;s take these statements one at a time:</p> <p> A: TRUTH!</p> <p> The science and medical communities worldwide agree that vaccines are safe. Multiple studies from both <a href="">U.S. government agencies</a> as well as <a href="">international, independent researchers</a> have found vaccines to be safe.</p> <p> In the latest study, <a href="">Danish researchers at Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen</a> examined 657,461 Danish children born between 1999 and 2010 and found that there&rsquo;s no link between being vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella and developing autism. This study echoes decades of similar studies, which also show no connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.</p> <p> B: TRUTH!</p> <p> The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Autism Society of America have all denounced any claims that the MMR vaccine causes Autism Spectrum Disorder.</p> <p> The myth of an MMR-autism connection began in the mid-1990s, when a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield claimed he&rsquo;d found a link between autism and children who had received the MMR vaccine. Yet, his study was officially retracted the doctor later lost his medical license because he &ldquo;&hellip;acted and irresponsibly&rdquo; and that he &ldquo;&hellip;brought the medical profession into disrepute.&rdquo;</p> <p> Despite this, the Wakefield study continues to be cited proof that the MMR vaccine causes autism, which has resulted in fewer parents vaccinating their kids.</p> <p> This dip in vaccination rates has damaged the nation&rsquo;s &ldquo;herd immunity,&rdquo; which occurs when a large portion of the population is vaccinated, thereby hampering the diseases&rsquo; ability to find a host. With measles, herd immunity is only achieved when at least 90-95 percent of the population is vaccinated. Without robust herd immunity, certain individuals who cannot receive vaccinations (such as newborns) will be left vulnerable to these dangerous diseases.</p> <p> C: LIE.</p> <p> Vaccinating doesn&rsquo;t guarantee that a person won&rsquo;t contract an infectious disease. One dose of MMR vaccine is 93 percent effective against measles, 78 percent effective against mumps, and 97 percent effective against rubella. Two doses of MMR vaccine are 97 percent effective against measles and 88 percent effective against mumps.</p> <p> Because many parents delay or forget to get their children a second dose of the MMR vaccine, infection can happen if a vaccinated person comes into contact with an unvaccinated infected individual. Even those who receive two doses are still vulnerable.</p> <p> In addition, certain people can&rsquo;t be vaccinated. Newborns, people with allergies, and the immuno-compromised (such as cancer patients) cannot receive certain vaccines, leaving them vulnerable to contracting infectious diseases, like measles.</p> <p> Measles is extremely contagious. It is easier to contract than Ebola, tuberculosis or influenza. Measles can linger in the air or on surfaces for up to two hours where an infected person coughed or sneezed. Infected individuals won&rsquo;t show any signs for days, and the early symptoms can easily be dismissed as a simple cold.</p> <p> Measles is a serious, deadly disease. <a href="">According to the CDC</a>, for every 1,000 Americans who get measles, one or two will die. <a href="">According to the WHO</a>, in 2017, the most recent year for which estimates are available, measles caused more than 100,000 deaths worldwide, mostly in young children. Additional Risks of Exposure: Measles can cause <a href="">encephalitis</a>, which can lead to swelling around the brain, causing seizures, blindness, deafness, permanent brain damage, and other disabilities.</p> <p> For more information about vaccines and measles outbreaks, check out <a href="">this policy focus.</a></p> GunlockTue, 30 Jul 2019 14:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFormer FDA Commissioner Tangles with How the FDA Should Regulate E-Cigarettes • Steve Gruber GunlockMon, 15 Jul 2019 12:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy Has American Pride In the U.S. Decreased? • Bold Politics GunlockFri, 12 Jul 2019 00:07:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum