Let’s not assume this product is safe

The Jan. 27 letter written by the owner of an e-cigarette company contained an unusually positive spin on the product. It implied that restrictions are not needed.

There is little doubt that for current smokers, e-cigarettes are a less-deadly bridge to quitting. But I believe that, based on the risks cited below, it is totally appropriate and in the public’s interest to limit e-cigarette smoking to places where traditional cigarettes are allowed to be smoked.

E-cigarettes contain nicotine, a dangerous and very addictive drug. The e-smoker still exhales nicotine into the air in the form of secondhand vapors. Those in the room — especially those with heart disease, vascular disease or diabetes, among other illnesses — are therefore placed at risk. And, as with traditional secondhand nicotine inhalation, a nonsmoker could subsequently have a positive result to a nicotine test given by an employer or insurer.

The diluent for the nicotine in e-cigarettes is propylene glycol. Historically, safety tests for this compound were based on a one-time, acute exposure. For the e-smoker and those around them, however, it becomes a chronic, systemic exposure. This could result in health problems, including lactic acidosis. Glycol is used as a diluent for some intravenous medications in hospitals, but patients are monitored closely.

ANNE E. STERN, Plymouth



‘Agreement’ won’t involve you and I

The Jan. 27 Letter of the Day, regarding President Obama and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, was a good summary of the economic situation. It is terribly misleading, however, to identify TPP as a trade agreement. The president has appointed one individual to coordinate with 600 multinational (corporate?) representatives to draft agreement on a very wide range of topics that will, with fast-track approval, become binding upon the United States. Many of the topics are items that the American people are concerned about but which they may learn about only “after the fact,” since negotiations have been conducted in secret.

This is a long way from government of, by and for the people. The agreement’s passage would mean a lot more than a loss of jobs; it would be a shredding of democracy.




Follow the money: Is it going to the cause?

On a recent evening, right around suppertime, I received another call for a chance to contribute to a cancer fund. We receive at least three calls a week from someone soliciting for a charity. Even though we do not have a lot of extra money, we try to give something to those who need help. I asked the caller whether she was from an organization that collected funds for the charity in question or from the charity itself. She responded that she was from an organization that collected funds for charities. I asked what percentage of the collections actually goes to the charity. There was a long pause, and she finally informed me that it was 15 percent. I asked if this was a little off-balance — should it not be the other way around? She wished me a good evening and abruptly hung up.

How can it cost 85 cents to collect 15 cents? No one should be getting rich on the backs of those who need the assistance of their fellow man.




Our history is more than fight scenes

Is anyone else tired of all the grousing about which battle picture is the most deserving of a spot in the State Capitol? Have we done nothing but fight for 150 years? Let’s celebrate instead our accomplishments in the fields of law, medicine, education, health care, human rights and the arts, as well as our belief in the importance of taking care of one another.

CATHY MURPHY, St. Louis Park



Minnesota is full of fine storytellers

Holy bagumba! Congrats to our award-winning children’s book authors and publishers. Minnesota has the most incredible kids’ lit scene of any state in the nation (“Minneapolis author wins top prize for kids’ book — again,” Jan. 28). The governor should proclaim children’s literature as the official state treasure: Minnesota, land of 10,000 storytellers.

PAT RHOADES, Minneapolis



A courageous, inspiring singer and songwriter

The American people have lost a great musical icon in Pete Seeger, who died Monday. He was the bedrock of modern folk music. Time and time again, he was there in person and song to support the worker and other civil-rights causes. He brought the punch and music to so many places of proper protest. Courageously, he stood up to McCarthy-era politics in the face of incarceration. A remarkable songwriter and tireless performer, his concerts were always memorable for their spirit and enthusiasm. My feelings can be summed up by the title of what may be one of his greatest hits: “So long, it’s been good to know yuh!”

PETE BOELTER, North Branch, Minn.