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Oklahoma ScissorTales: Taking aim at youth vaping

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Sen. Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders

The state House gave final legislative approval this week to a bill that adds e-cigarettes to Oklahoma’s Tobacco-free Schools Act. The targeting of vaping by youths is worthwhile.

E-cigarettes have the potential to help adults who are trying to quit smoking. However, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, these devices, some of which contain large amounts of nicotine, “are not safe for youth, young adults, pregnant women or adults who do not currently use tobacco products.”

Yet e-cigarette use among youths has grown tremendously during the past several years. In 2018, according to a survey by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration, 20.8 percent of U.S. high schoolers and 4.9 percent of middle schoolers reported using e-cigarettes.

The survey found more than 3.6 million high school and middle school students use e-cigarettes. About one-fourth of those are frequent users, reporting using e-cigarettes on at least 20 of the preceding 30 days.

Officials say the growth of e-cigarette use is tied to an increase in the use of any tobacco product among high schoolers — from 19.6 percent in 2017 to 27.1 percent in 2018.

Senate Bill 33, by Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, and Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Tulsa, bans vapor products in schools, school vehicles or at any school-sanctioned event. It was approved 91-0 in the House. It had passed the Senate 45-1.

Glad to have bitter OETA dispute resolved

A legal fight between the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority and its foundation was settled this week. Much of the dispute involved money. In January, the OETA’s board voted to sever ties with the foundation, which has supported OETA since 1982. The attorney general later asked a judge to appoint a receiver to take control of the foundation, and more recently asked that restraints be put on how the foundation spent donations. The settlement will see the OETA Foundation dissolve, with its funds and assets going to a new nonprofit called Friends of OETA. Now OETA can, as its attorney said, “continue its obligation to provide quality public television to the citizens of the nation and the state of Oklahoma.” That's the most important thing for the network's loyal viewers.

Placing too much blame on regents

Only one member of the state Senate voted not to confirm Eric Stevenson as a member of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, said he knew Stevenson would win approval and that his vote Tuesday was a protest. Young said he and members of the Legislative Black Caucus are concerned that Stevenson lives in Ohio and thus won’t be as plugged in as needed to life on the Norman campus, which has seen some racially tinged incidents in the recent past. He also said he’s concerned there’s an effort to have one black regent (Stevenson) address the problems. The other regents “are just as responsible for the events that have taken place on the campus of OU and they ought to be just as concerned,” Young said. Two observations: No regent is responsible for actions of other individuals. And, no doubt every member of the board is concerned about these incidents and is interested in potential improvement.

Sanders willing to defend his positions

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders is scheduled to appear on a Fox News town hall Monday, a decision that's been criticized by some on the left. The communications director for Daily Kos, for example, wondered why Sanders would “lend his considerable presence to a network that routinely pushes sexist and racist tropes about progressives and his supporters.” We say, good for Bernie! Instead of shunning Fox, as the Democratic National Committee has done, Democrats should take their message to Fox viewers. Bill Scher, a contributing editor to Politico magazine, makes this point: “Democratic primary voters should get the opportunity to see how their candidates deal with questions from a conservative perspective, even if they are loaded with unfair right-wing talking points. After all, the eventual nominee is not going to run in a vacuum.” Scher is right. Kudos to Sanders for being willing to walk into the lion’s den. The program airs at 5:30 p.m.

Continuing concerns about measles in U.S.

Measles, declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, is back with a vengeance. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that 465 cases of measles had been confirmed since the start of the year. That total was an increase of 78 over the previous week — the largest one-week jump of 2019. This year’s total also is the second-highest since 2000. The cases have been found in 19 states (Oklahoma is not one of them, thank goodness), although most are tied to an outbreak among Orthodox Jews in New York state. Health officials say the surge this year has stemmed from exposures overseas that have then been transmitted among groups that reject childhood vaccinations. “Health authorities are now trying both to halt the virus’s spread and correct misconceptions about vaccinations,” The Wall Street Journal wrote. Parents, take note: The childhood MMR vaccine is highly effective at preventing measles, mumps and rubella, and it does not cause autism.

Gambler’s gamble proved well worth it

James Holzhauer did what comes naturally to set the single-game record for winnings on the game show “Jeopardy!” He gambled. Holzhauer, 34, makes his living as a professional gambler in Las Vegas. During Tuesday’s episode of “Jeopardy!” he won $110,914, eclipsing the one-game record of $77,000 set by a contestant in 2010. Holzhauer told USBets.com that he had “no hesitation betting big when I needed to — and I felt no extra pressure knowing how much was at stake — because I gamble all the time.” He successfully risked $14,600 and $25,000 on daily doubles during the Double Jeopardy round Tuesday, leaving him with $72,600 entering Final Jeopardy. His correct answer in that round left him with a total that translated to his daughter’s birthday (11/09/14).

The Oklahoman Editorial Board

The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Kelly Dyer Fry, Publisher, Editor and Vice President of News; Owen Canfield, Opinion Editor; and Ray Carter, Chief Editorial Writer.. To submit a letter to the editor, go to this page or email... Read more ›

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