Smoking guns: Pa. doctors focus on neglected health ills

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The Pennsylvania Medical Society knows better than most what threatens the general health of the commonwealth, which is why two recent resolutions from the society should be taken by its residents as helpful prescriptions.

Both resolutions were passed at the society’s annual meeting in Hershey late last month. The first has to do with electronic cigarettes, which mimic the real thing.

E-cigarettes not only deliver nicotine but also give off a watery vapor resembling smoke — and they glow at the end. Unlike traditional cigarettes, they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

While they may not be as bad as regular cigarettes and may help adults to quit smoking, that doesn’t make e-cigarettes good — and for young people they may be flat-out bad. After all, here’s a gateway means for minors to affect the look of smoking and become addicted to nicotine. Worse yet, they are readily available to kids on the Internet and are made in flavors enticing to youth.

Until more is known about the effects of nicotine addiction in the young, the Pennsylvania Medical Society wants state law to treat electronic cigarettes the same as tobacco cigarettes, including in regard to taxation and sales to minors.

That makes sense. What Pennsylvania doesn’t need is a back-door way to recruit future smokers just when progress is being made to end the unhealthy scourge of smoking.

The society’s second resolution deals with another tragic problem, gun violence — but gun lovers need not be alarmed.

The doctors aren’t endorsing gun control or any associated measure. They just want to study gun violence as a public health malady and support research to that end. Who could be against that?

If gun violence were seen as a public health epidemic, maybe some way can be found to respect gun rights and better protect people’s lives.


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