Readers Write: (Jan. 27): E-cigarettes, mining, the movies

  • Updated: January 24, 2014 - 6:54 PM

Those who seek to ban vaping are missing the real health benefit to smokers.

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E-CIGARETTES

Those who seek bans miss important points

As the mother of a young woman who quit smoking by use of an e-cigarette, and as the owner of an e-cigarette company, I feel qualified to offer an opinion on e-cigarette bans.

Those who support a ban may mean well, but they are sadly misinformed. One in five Americans is addicted to smoking, and that percentage, along with an abysmal quit success rate, hasn’t changed in years.

The e-cigarette is finally moving the needle on those numbers. A study reported in JAMA shows the e-cigarette is more effective than nicotine patches in helping people quit smoking or reduce cigarette use. The Royal College of Physicians in Britain and a growing number of doctors back e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking. A major Drexel University study of 9,000 e-cigarette users concluded: “Current data do not indicate that exposures to vapors from contaminants in electronic cigarettes warrant a concern.”

The facts are in our favor, but we face tremendous opposition from tobacco and pharmaceutical companies. It’s a classic case of David vs. Goliath. We need more “Davids” to join the fight — because if Goliath wins, the biggest losers are smokers, who will continue to die at the rate of 450,000 a year from smoking-related diseases.

MARIA VERVEN, Golden Valley

 

MINING

Awfully hard to trust long-term promises

As the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources solicits public commentary on the proposed PolyMet mine project, I hope readers noticed the irony of a Jan. 15 article regarding the decades-old project to clean up a former industrial site (“U.S. Borax to pay $1.25 million to clean up Mpls. arsenic”).

The proposed copper-nickel project in northeastern Minnesota is expected to have an economically useful life of approximately 20 years and create several hundred sustainable jobs during that period. An environmental-impact statement suggests that the projected risk of toxic runoff might extend for 200 years after the end of ore extraction.

The Borax story noted that all the primary companies involved in the arsenic case have long since gone defunct, leaving the public and state government with an open-ended economic obligation for the cleanup required.

I cannot be the only person who sees the similarities between the PolyMet and Borax situations.

I acknowledge that the state of environmental knowledge circa 1938, when the arsenic situation apparently began, was substantially lower than it is today. I have zero confidence that even the best intentions of PolyMet, the DNR and the supporters of the mining project can accurately anticipate a 200-year time horizon. I urge the DNR to require a full performance bond and carry forward liability for successor corporations.

Brad Shinkle, Minnetonka

• • •

Those pushing for approval of the PolyMet proposal might be interested in our experience with Essar Steel, which is developing a taconite mine at Nashwauk, Minn., and whose parent company is headquartered in India.

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