×

Monday Mix editorial: The dangers of vaping, the joys of voting

  • Julia Kenny voted in Shutesbury. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Sue Adelson voted early at Northampton City Hall. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Jessica Wierzbowski voted in Northampton, and shared her sticker with dog Echo. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Sarah Mulvehill voted in Westhampton. SUBMITTED PHOTO

  • Beth McElhiney voted in Easthampton. SUBMITTED PHOTO



Monday, November 12, 2018
Vaping

Amid news of one mass shooting after another in places associated with, if not peace, then at least pleasure — a synagogue where people prayed, a yoga studio where people practiced, a bar where people danced — ordinary health issues may not make the cut on a list of “things to be afraid of.”

The perils of e-cigarettes probably fall into that category. But this past Tuesday in the Gazette’s Health section, Dr. Rose B. Ganim, a thoracic surgeon at Baystate Medical Center and assistant professor of surgery at the University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate, wrote a piece that included some startling statistics regarding teens and e-cigarettes.

The percentage of high school students who reported smoking cigarettes in the past 30 days declined from 15.8 percent in 2011 to 7.6 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, the percentage of high school students reporting that they used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days rose to 11.7 percent, up from 1.5 percent in 2011.

The CDC says that e-cigarettes are now the most commonly used tobacco product among youth in the United States. Indeed, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb has labeled the teen use of e-cigarettes an epidemic.

Available in flavors like mint and chocolate, e-cigarettes sound more like dessert than cancer-causing agents. And while e-cigarettes may not produce tar-containing smoke, they do contain nicotine — and can also contain heavy metals like lead, volatile organic compounds and cancer-causing agents.

We must continue educating youth about smoking and not assume that e-cigarettes are “safe.” It’s a shame to have come so far in changing the perception of smoking — what might have been considered sexy in the 1970s is now simply considered gross — only to lose that ground in a cloud of vape.

​​​​​​Voting

Hampshire County voters showed up to vote in Tuesday’s midterm election — 71,213 ballots were cast, or 65 percent of registered voters. In Williamsburg, 78.5 percent of voters voted, closely followed by Plainfield at 78.4 percent. In Easthampton, where average midterm election turnout hovers between 50 and 55 percent, 70.1 percent of voters came out to the polls to vote.

Strong voter turnout makes for strong democracies. And it can be fun. As Westhampton voter Sarah Mulvehill wrote on The Gazette’s Facebook page: “Being checked in and out by my neighbors, voting with a pencil and paper under a bare light bulb, putting my ballot in our antique wooden ballot box so our town constable can turn the brass crank and I can hear the satisfying ding as my vote is counted. Voting in Westhampton is a pleasure, and it’s probably been exactly like this for generations.”

We asked readers to submit their selfies from the polls. See a few they shared at the top of the page.