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Don’t kid yourself: e-cigarettes pose a huge threat to millions of Americans | Letters – Chicago Sun-Times

As the author of federal legislation to regulate and tax e-cigarette “vapes” for the first time, I take strong exception to Jacob Sullum’s recent column, which carried the headline “Bureaucrats, pols seem determined to cripple lifesaving smoking alternative.”

Vapes are a huge health threat to millions of America’s young people — with 20% of high schoolers currently using this highly addictive product.

The purpose of the current Food and Drug Administration review of e-cigarettes, which Sullum criticizes, is to decide whether they have a net positive public health benefit. The unregulated, untaxed marketplace now requires no such proof.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be approximately 350 words or less.

Rather than trying to keep vapes away from adults, my legislation aims to curb excessive levels of addictive nicotine; get rid of the vape “flavors” that are meant to attract kids; and close the loophole that allows e-cigarettes to evade taxes on other tobacco products.

There’s a reason the big tobacco companies are buying up some of the largest vape manufacturers. It isn’t to save lives; it’s to boost their own profits.

Adults can do what they want, even though there’s simply no evidence that vapes help them to quit smoking. But our kids are not for sale. Their lives deserve our protection.

US. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois

COVID-19 doesn’t care how you vote

Thursday’s essay by Mercedes Hidalgo, about her brother who died of COVID, was heart-wrenching. It was also spot-on regarding the selfish attitude of far too many people who refuse to listen to their doctors and other health experts and instead listen to political or “news” commentators who have an axe to grind.

This coronavirus is not political. It kills indiscriminately regardless of your beliefs or voting record.

I have been saying for years that partisan politics is destroying our great country, and it’s only getting worse. The hyper-partisanship of the last five years or so — really since the rise of Donald Trump — is ripping at the fabric of our democracy. And it’s coming from both ends of the political spectrum. We need to pull both sides closer to the middle, a place where some agreement is possible, before it is too late.

Mike Staunton, Oak Forest

Danger of deadlier variants

I want to express my sincere condolences to Mercedes Hidalgo, who wrote about the death of her brother. I cannot imagine her pain and grief. I also want to thank her for the strength and courage she showed in writing such a cogent essay during an emotional, painful time.

Ms. Hidalgo got to the core of the matter when she pointed out that her brother succumbed to a variant of COVID-19 — the delta variant — that is “a product of those who failed to get vaccinated.”

I, too, cannot wrap my mind around the fact that so many people, even this at this stage of the pandemic, don’t seem to understand that the delta variant exists — and that potentially even more lethal variants could follow.

If we fail to stop the virus from continuing to cycle through the population, it will continue to mutate, very possibly gaining strength. Left unchecked, this is what viruses do. They mutate.

Ms. Hidalgo also is exactly right when she writes that “so many people listen to fools and not their own doctors.” I am dumbfounded when these same people become infected and become hospitalized. Then they do trust these same doctors.

At this point, it sometimes feels easier to just give up on pushing back against those people who are the loudest and most illogical, resigning ourselves to the idea that our efforts are pointless. But we cannot. Because their failure to do the right thing still affects all of us.

How do they explain this to their children? How do they envision life ever getting back to normal? How do they see this ending?

I wonder if during a rare quiet, contemplative moment, they envision something similar to Daniel Hidalgo’s fate?

Chris Cerasoli, Elmhurst

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