Parents - Be Aware of the Dangers of E-Cigarette Use by Youth

On December 18, 2018, the Surgeon General of the United States Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams issued a public health advisory on the dangers of e-cigarette use.  He called the use among our youth “an epidemic” and asks all of  us to step up and help protect our children from this major public health threat.

According to the Advisory, e-cigarettes entered the U.S. market in 2007 and since 2014, are the most widely used tobacco product by youth.  In 2018, use grew by 20.8% so that 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students used e-cigarettes.  These cigarettes come in different shapes, sizes and flavors and have become very attractive to youth, especially with so much effective advertising geared toward the youth.  It is also important to know that, in addition to using various flavors, marijuana is being used in e-cigarettes too.  

The Surgeon General warned that e-cigarette aerosol can be harmful as it usually has nicotine, which is an addictive drug.  “Nicotine exposure during adolescence can harm the developing brain – which continues to develop until about age 25. Nicotine exposure during adolescence can impact learning, memory, and attention. Using nicotine in adolescence can also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs. In addition to nicotine, the aerosol that users inhale and exhale from e-cigarettes can potentially expose both themselves and bystanders to other harmful substances, including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs.”

He refers to this growing use as a “public health epidemic” and asks us assist in the fight to protect our children.  The Advisory provides helpful information as to what can be done by parents, teachers, health professionals, as well as government entities. 

The Advisory ends with the following: “KNOW THE RISKS. TAKE ACTION. PROTECT OUR KIDS.”

To read the full advisory, CLICK HERE.

For other interesting articles on the dangers of e-cigarettes, visit:

The Importance of Teaching Civics to Our Children

What are our privileges, rights and duties as citizens in our democracy?  As a Christian, a lawyer and former judge, I believe that children should be taught more about civics so that they grow up with the knowledge of what our democracy entails and actively participate in our government. 

I have heard many judges from all over the United States lament the fact that people do not want to serve on juries.  It is like pulling teeth to have people serve. Yet, jury duty is a very important part of our civic duty.  Did you know that?

In an op-ed dated February 11, 2019 in the LA Times online, retired teacher Sandy Asper wrote about what she believed was the need to teach children not only social studies, but also a separate course about civics – what a good citizen should know and do.  She argued that just teaching children facts, such as when the U. S. Constitution was written and why it was written, is not enough to give them a full understanding of citizenship.   She wrote:

“It is incredibly important that students learn that what they think matters, and how to determine what they think by researching and learning.  It’s critical that they understand the importance of taking action and learning how to do it. It’s crucial to our country that students learn how to communicate; how to write letters, text, call, march, take part in elections, join, organize. In other words, they learn how to become an actual citizen.”

I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Asper’s view.  Moreover, I would add other subjects to teach within civics such as how our government is set up with 3 branches – executive, judicial and legislative - both nationally and locally,  and the important duty of serving on a jury. 

To raise children who are active in their community, we must teach them the importance of what it means to be a citizen.  Only then will we have more participation in what our government does and what it looks like.

African Americans and Women Played an Important Role in the Fight for American Independence

Tomorrow is the 4th of July or as Americans have come to know it as Independence Day.  It is well known what this day celebrates- our hard fought independence from the British almost 250 years ago - and the many people who played key roles in the fight.  We frequently think of our founding fathers as the central figures in the war.  What many may not know, though, is that there were also African Americans and women who played a critical part in securing our freedom.

Salem Poor is one of those people. He was born in Massachusetts as a slave, but at the age of 22, had saved up a year’s salary so that he could buy his freedom.  Once freed, he enlisted in the army and this would bring him his notoriety only a year later.  Poor was instrumental in the Battle of Bunker Hill- an important battle in the fight for America’s freedom- defeating several British officers and inspiring paintings commemorating the victory.

Also Massachusetts-born was former slave Peter Salem. He was not only an important soldier in the Battle of Bunker Hill, but also in the entire American Revolutionary War.  At the time of his recruitment, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety only recruited free African Americans.  He traded his life as a slave to fight in the army.

Women such as Margaret Corbin also played major roles in the war. Corbin and her husband helped in defending Fort Washington, but when he got injured, she took over, manning the canon. She did not hesitate to take it upon herself to do a job meant for two.

These and many other men and women are often forgotten in history.  But, do not let that happen.  Teach your children about this day and all the different people who risked their lives to fight for a cause they profoundly believed in.  It makes our history much more vibrant and interesting by doing so.