Teens know that smoking is bad for them, but many don’t realize vaping is, too.

Twenty percent of high school students vape and 63% of teens who vape don’t realize that Juul products always contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive, making teen vapers four times more likely to become adult smokers. There’s even evidence that nicotine could act as a gateway drug to harder substances like cocaine.

We have to protect our young Hoosiers’ futures by acting now. Big Tobacco has targeted youth with flavored vapes, sleek technology and endless social media ads. We need to educate our teens and young adults on the dangers of vaping and the tricks that are played on them. We can do this by having open, honest conversations with our children, students and neighbors.

And teens can get involved by joining VOICE St. Joe, a youth empowerment program. VSJ members create community service projects, participate in statewide trainings and fight Big Tobacco. It’s a great opportunity for young leaders to learn, grow and protect themselves and their friends from the deceptions of tobacco marketing. For more information: [email protected].

Keeley Higley

Youth tobacco prevention outreach coordinator

Saint Joseph Health System

A fresh breeze is blowing across our national political landscape, bringing with it a new era of honesty, integrity and competence.

Despite the persistent efforts of President Donald Trump and his Republican accomplices to undermine our democracy, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will become our next president and vice president on Jan. 20.

President-elect Joe Biden has begun the process of selecting his Cabinet. The individuals he has announced so far are a historically diverse group of very experienced, very competent public servants. Two examples:

The nominee for director of national intelligence is Avril Haines, who previously served as the deputy national security advisor and deputy director of the CIA. If confirmed, she will be the first woman to lead national intelligence.

Alejandro Mayorkas is the nominee to become secretary of Homeland Security. Mayorkas served as the deputy secretary of Homeland Security from 2013 to 2016. If confirmed, he would be the first Latino and the first immigrant to lead Homeland Security.

A new era is beginning — an era in which our president, vice president, White House staff and Cabinet appointees will all reflect the best qualities of our nation.

Larry Feldman

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