Thursday, November 23, 2017
Editorials

Another voice: Decline in teen smoking

RECOMMENDED READING


Amid the nationwide furor over the Senate draft health care bill, a public health victory has gone mostly unnoticed. According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated number of middle and high school students who are tobacco users dropped from 4.7 million in 2015 to 3.9 million in 2016. This was largely driven by a reduction in the number of teenagers using e-cigarettes, which are less harmful than regular cigarettes but still contain nicotine. The downturn is a success for advocates and officials who have worked to curb teen tobacco use — but it should not be heralded as the end of the road.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and 9 in 10 American smokers had their first taste of tobacco before age 18. Although policies to curb teen smoking showed signs of success for a time, youth tobacco rates remained stagnant between 2011 and 2015. During this period, the use of e-cigarettes among high school students increased by a staggering 900 percent.

With these statistics in mind, the recent decline in teen tobacco and e-cigarette use is an encouraging signal that interventions may be working. It is difficult to determine causation, but experts attribute the drop to a range of federal, state and local policies designed to dissuade young adults from using tobacco, such as increasing tobacco taxes and expanding antismoking ordinances to include e-cigarettes and other new products. States have run targeted media campaigns that work alongside federal efforts, such as the Food and Drug Administration's "Real Cost" campaign and the CDC's "Tips from Former Smokers." The CDC report suggests some of these strategies have been effective.

But the report also highlights challenges that lie ahead. Millions of teenagers are still using tobacco in some form, and the introduction of new tobacco products could drive up rates. There are also significant disparities among states and communities: Rural, low-income, gay and transgender youth are particularly at risk due to targeted marketing and policy variation between different jurisdictions. This makes federal regulation by the FDA all the more important.

The FDA, however, has delayed the enforcement of new regulations on e-cigarettes and cigars. Delays are commonplace in new administrations, but it is important that the agency take up these stricter standards after the three-month postponement. It would be a pity if these long-awaited signs of progress were undercut because the FDA declined to do its job.

Comments

Another voice: Wall isnít a lifesaver, itís a boondoggle

The first stage of President Donald Trumpís controversial border wall project ended last week, while the prospects for any more construction ó and even what type of wall ó remain uncertain.A Border Patrol agent was killed and his partner seriously wo...
Published: 11/21/17
Updated: 11/22/17

Another voice: Time for Republicans to denounce this tax nonsense

Mick Mulvaney, the phony deficit hawk President Donald Trump tapped to oversee the nationís budget, all but admitted on Sunday that the GOP tax plan currently before the Senate is built on fiction. Senators from whom the public should expect more ó s...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nationís highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Published: 11/20/17

Another voice: Trump does the right thing for elephants; he shouldnít back down now

There is bad timing, and then there is this. Last week, an apparent military coup placed Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in custody, ushering in a new period of political uncertainty. A few days later, the Trump administration announced that Zimba...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

Editorial: Fighting the opioid crisis on many fronts

From birth to death, opioid addiction is ravaging the lives of thousands of Floridians. Drugmakers, doctors, state lawmakers and insurance companies all have a role to play in slowing the epidemic. Lately some more responsible answers, including mill...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/21/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "Iím pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: Itís time to renew communityís commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

Editorial: A time for real thanksgiving

By now the guest list if not the table is all set, and the house will be warmed with the noise of loved ones and the smell of that dish with cream of mushroom soup. Tucked between the sugar rush of Halloween and the sparkle of Christmas, Thanksgiving...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/22/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17