Electronic cigarettes are marketed as safer and healthier than cigarettes.As recent New Mexico cases of lung disease linked to vaping show, that's simply not true.Freelance investigative reporter …
Electronic cigarettes are marketed as safer and healthier than cigarettes.
As recent New Mexico cases of lung disease linked to vaping show, that's simply not true.
Freelance investigative reporter Bryant Furlow details the dangers of vaping in a special report for the Taos News this week. His story is focused on Taos County, which has the highest rate in New Mexico of e-cigarette use per capita among teens.
Taos school district officials are aware of the problem and trying to stem it. But they will need help. People of all ages need to understand the health effects of vaping. Children and teens learn from the adults around them. If e-cigarettes seem acceptable, they'll use them.
But the developing bodies and brains of youth are even more susceptible than adults to the ill effects of the habit.
Teens vape for the same reasons adults do - to calm down, to feel good for a few minutes, maybe to feel like a rebel. They need to know that the consequences of vaping far outweigh the benefits. They wouldn't drink poison, knowing its ill effects. But vaping is essentially like breathing in poison, given the chemicals sometimes mixed in.
Help them, and yourself if you vape, find alternatives. It sounds trite, but yoga and meditation can help with calming the mind and helping the body feel better. Exercise of any kind helps rid the body of tension, increases oxygen flow and helps one face the stresses of the day.
Rush to post wrong
After a tragedy happens, like the apparent homicide of coffee shop owner Patrick Larkin, the public naturally wants information. And in the age of social media, they want those answers fast.
But the rush to post information, especially by a public official, can lead to dire consequences, including the potential to name the wrong person as responsible for a crime.
Taos County Commissioner Candyce O'Donnell posted information about a Taos resident on Facebook recently, linking that person to the death of Larkin. She provided no sources for this information, not even anonymous ones. Instead she referred to "word on the street" as the source for part of her allegation.
The man had been arrested, but not on charges related to homicide. Her post set off a furor of people ready to string the guy up and was shared dozens of times. Some were ready to buy her theory with no proof, feeding the kind of mob mentality that can lead to unintended bad outcomes. She is an elected official, after all, someone people look to for reliable information.
Commissioner O'Donnell's post, while she has since taken it down and apologized for it, could complicate the ongoing investigation into Larkin's death.
If her theory proves true and the man is charged, she can feel exonerated, except that her post could impact a trial.
If her theory is wrong, she will have defamed someone.
As a former reporter, O'Donnell should have known better. She knows the importance of sourcing and not jumping to conclusions. Instead of posting a potentially false allegation, she could have reminded constituents to remain patient and let investigators do their job.
Her job is to calm fears and anger, not to flame them.
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