Right Opinion

HHS: With E-Cigs, Life Is Not a Vapor

Tony Perkins · Oct. 2, 2019

They come in mango, bubble gum, watermelon, even Fruit Loop flavors — but these e-cigarettes aren’t candy. They’re dangerous and unregulated — and fighting to bring them under control may be the first area of common ground between both parties in a very long time.

You won’t find Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) and President Trump on the same side often — but the vaping crisis is enough to bring everyone together. With the news that e-cigarette use has doubled in just two years, the public outcry is growing to do something — and fast. “It’s not good news at all,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who found her group’s national survey results so shocking that they released them three months early. One in four students in the 12th grade is now saying they’ve vaped in the last 30 days. That number is one in five for sophomores and one in 11 in the 8th grade. Add that to the spike in vaping-related illnesses, and HHS Secretary Alex Azar believes there’s a serious problem on our hands.

The flavors are drawing kids in, but it’s the nicotine that keeps them coming back. And, as Secretary Azar told listeners on Monday’s “Washington Watch,” that’s no small issue. “Frankly, a single pod of these things, these e-cigarettes things… can contain as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes. But [people] don’t know that. You don’t know how much you’re getting in. You don’t know what concentration you’re getting in. And kids who start on these e-cigarettes are more likely than non-users to migrate to smoke and combustible tobacco. It’s a real epidemic…”

So much so that he, the acting leader of the FDA, Dr. Ned Sharpless, and Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, wrote a joint op-ed warning Americans that the government is about to get very involved in protecting kids. When I asked what steps the administration might take, Secretary Azar explained that some people have accused them of pursuing a “ban.” But, he explains, “It’s not actually a ban. Congress has a statute called the Tobacco Control Act. And the statute says that before any cigarette can be on the market, they have to go to the Food and Drug Administration, which I run. And you have to get approval. Just like with any drug or medical device.”

In other words, these manufacturers would have to prove that their products are in the “public health interest” and explain why it should be on the market. “And what the president said,” Azar pointed out, “is any of these products that are attractive to kids that are causing this epidemic, we want them off the market. You need to come in and get approval by FDA before you go back on the market. So it’s a pause button that will let FDA control the nicotine levels, the other ingredients in the product to make sure that it is safe, makes sure the device can’t be manipulated as a marijuana delivery device or for unsafe purposes, and also regulate how you’re going to distribute the product to make sure it’s not attractive and available to our kids.”

It’s all about empowering adults and parents to take charge of the harmful influences over kids. After all, the secretary explained, these pods are designed to be hidden. “They’re able to conceal them from [teachers] and from parents. And they get a buzz — they get a nicotine buzz that rapidly becomes an addiction. [Now we have] this explosion of youth use. And what it’s meant is parents and families and teachers and administrators at schools… they’ve lost control. And that’s what the president wants to do, is put them back in the driver’s seat so that they can help keep their kids away from these highly addictive, attractive substances.”

Originally published here.

Parents Fight Back: Sex and Kindergarten in America

“I dare you… Hold up the textbook in front of the camera and show them a picture of what 10-year-olds are going to be asked to see.” That was Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers’s (R) challenge to reporters, when they asked him about his fierce response to the radical Left’s sex ed. He pointed to a book, called It’s Perfectly Normal, that isn’t normal at all — unless you’re one of those rare individuals who think teaching anal sex to five-year-olds is a good idea.

Arizona State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman’s (D), Twitter profile shows a picture of the new officeholder carrying a sign that says, “#IAmPublicEducation.” And after hearing her vision for sexualizing kids, that’s exactly what parents are afraid of. “I couldn’t even read the manual to you over the radio,” State Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Ariz.) told me on “Washington Watch” Monday. “When [they] talk about comprehensive sex education,” she warned, “that’s exactly what they mean. It’s very comprehensive, very detailed—they leave nothing out. And when you read the material, you can only come to the conclusion that if they’re going to give [kindergarteners] on up different types of information, the only reason for that is because you are… giving them information to help sexualize them.”

Bowers, who is fighting alongside Allen, agreed. The dad of seven has been on a one-man mission to keep the curriculum changes the state derailed in June off track. “I don’t need to sexualize children and tell them how to masturbate,” he said. “It’s way beyond where we need to be.” Hoffman’s office fired back that his fears had no basis in reality. Bowers is not alone in his concern. When activists tried to overturn 40 years of conservative sex ed messaging and replace it with graphic, pro-LGBT propaganda, the crowd was so large at the state board of education that officials had to open three overflow rooms!

Outside groups like Planned Parenthood and GLSEN were trying to strip the state’s ban on “abnormal, deviate, or unusual sexual acts and practices” — and parents on both sides were furious. “Instead of creating more Planned Parenthood customers, let’s put our energy into improving the reading ability of our children,” one mom railed. Another held up the same book Bowers did and pointed to the nude pictures. It’s completely unnecessary, Bowers argues. The board agreed, deciding to table the changes — for now.

But the battle isn’t over. Not by a long shot. Extremists are still finding ways to slip the indoctrination into districts where parents aren’t watching. At an event in September, Bowers took his warning on the road, asking people to think about these consequences. When we sexualize kids, he argued, what are the results? “Sexually transmitted diseases, which we treat for money. Abortion, which we do for money. Even the heinous selling of body parts, which we do for money. And the treatment of AIDS across the world, which we do for money.”

These activists, including the ones at the highest levels of state government, are counting on parents’ ignorance to push this agenda through. “That’s my reason for being very involved in this,” Sylvia told me, “because I believe that these programs are going against the vast majority of parents—and what parents want taught to their children about this subject… In Arizona, we have local control over curriculum. So that means parents have got to be active in their school district to see what their school district might want to propose on this subject.”

Of course, when we talk about sex ed, there’s probably a tendency for a lot of moms and dads to think back to when they were in school and the lessons were a lot more subdued. This is not your grandmother’s sex education. This isn’t even your mom’s. This is explicit. But the Left is overreaching — and in school after school, we’re seeing a monumental pushback from parents of both parties. As Sylvia said, this isn’t a partisan issue. No one wants to leave this crucial part of a child’s development to the activists in their district. They don’t want to be in a race to beat their schools to this conversation. In Arizona, leaders like Allen are trying to overhaul the system to create an opt-in type permission system where the schools will have to obtain the parents’ consent before teaching these subjects.

Right now, they’re hoping other states are paying attention to what’s happening in their districts and learning from it. Do you know if your local sex ed is an opt-in or opt-out program? Have you looked at the curriculum? If they update the materials, do they tell you? These are the questions our friends at the Center for Arizona Policy are asking their parents. Take a look at their post, “What is the state teaching your kids about sex?” and apply it to your community. The best parent is an informed parent. Join the movement to Take Back Our Schools!

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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