In a recent article on vaping (“The other side of the debate over vaping,” Dec. 3), the authors imply e-cigarettes are a panacea for tobacco addiction — which is far from the truth. As a cardiologist with over 40 years of experience, I want to set the record straight.

E- cigarettes are not approved as a quit-smoking aid by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because there is no conclusive evidence that e-cigarettes are effective for quitting. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that most adults who vape continue to smoke cigarettes. That’s why physicians prescribe FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapy or medications to help patients quit.

Vaping carries serious health risks. E-cigarette vapor contains many of the same harmful substances found in cigarettes, and new research shows that e-cigarettes damage lung and heart health.

New ultrahigh nicotine e-cigarettes like JUUL aren’t helping — they are disrupting our progress to reduce youth tobacco use. These e-cigarettes expose adolescents to huge amounts of nicotine when their brain is vulnerable to addiction. Any teacher will tell you that vaping is nothing short of an epidemic among high schoolers.

Quitting smoking is incredibly challenging, but there are proven methods to help. It is a false choice to say we must choose for our kids to become addicted to e-cigarettes or cigarettes; we can choose neither.

The FDA should quickly enact new restrictions to protect youth. Here in Minnesota, we should do more to prevent nicotine addiction. Raising the tobacco age to 21, limiting flavored tobacco products to adult-only stores and investing in quit-smoking and tobacco-prevention programs are good places to start.

DR. Thomas Erling Kottke, St. Paul

The writer is president of the Twin Cities Medical Society.

Education

STEM camps at colleges open door to careers dominated by men

A Star Tribune story (“Women-only programs under fire,” Dec. 3) discussed Mark Perry’s campaign against STEM summer camp programs for middle- and high school girls at colleges and universities. Perry, according to the story, teaches finance at the University of Michigan, Flint, and is a “scholar” with the American Enterprise Institute. AEI is a conservative think tank, so his view is going to be one that is biased. He obviously isn’t in tune with the academic situation in this country.

Thanks to the STEM programs, more young girls and women are becoming interested in math and sciences. Engineering programs historically have been filled with a very high percentage of men, who, when they graduate, will be offered jobs that will pay them nicely. If beginning engineering positions are like jobs in the tech fields or almost any other field, women working in them are paid considerably less than men doing the same work.

Perhaps instead of campaigning for boys and young men being included in STEM camps, Perry could campaign with corporate executives to fix the imbalance in pay between men and women. These attacks by this conservative operative is just more of the GOP’s attack on women cloaked in “fairness.”

Dave Johnson, Grand Rapids, Minn.

• • •

“Mark Perry is on a mission to rout what he sees as rampant discrimination against men in higher education.” What country has this man been living in! Our country is rich in history in discriminating against, well, everything and everyone. Saying men are getting shortchanged in this country is both laughable and uninformed. Men literally control everything in the corporate world, sports, education, private sector and on and on. There was a reason that Title IX was created. There was a reason for women’s suffrage.

One reason that women’s presence in science, technology, engineering and math fields is minimal is due to their lack of acceptance by the male majority of all these fields. There is ground to be made up, and exposing women to these fields will only benefit all of us. Opportunity in all aspects of our society should not be gender-specific. Perry’s quest will only continue the imbalance and inequities that are currently in place.

Ty Yasukawa, Burnsville

Energy

Sacrificing animals’ health, life too high a price for oil, gas

In regard to the article “Seismic tests OK’d that could harm sea life” (Dec. 1): The Trump administration announced that it would permit such tests to support future oil and natural gas exploration off the Atlantic shore. Such testing will be allowed even though it could harm “tens of thousands of dolphins, whales and other marine animals.”

This is truly outrageous. In addition to the suffering caused by the tests, dolphins are so dependent on hearing that they can die if deafened.

The administration calls this effect “incidental.” How arrogant to assume that inflicting such torture on other species is justified by oil and gas exploration!

At least we now know that the Trump administration is as lacking in compassion toward other species as it is toward our own.

Nic Baker, Roseville

Remembering 41

Cartoon about president’s passing took unnecessary partisan jab

Seriously? How utterly tasteless can you be in publishing that editorial cartoon Tuesday, just before President George H.W. Bush’s funeral?

At a time when the emphasis should be on “unity” and “improving civility” in politics, you stoop to a new low and display your liberalism on your sleeve by instead taking the time to make an obvious partisan jab. The fact that Steve Sack chose to draw a tasteless political cartoon is one thing. But the total lack of good judgment rests on your shoulders for actually allowing it to be published.

Progressive? No. Tasteless? Yes. Nice job, Star Tribune, on taking the “low road.”

John T. Peterson, Waverly, Minn.

Minority teachers

Earlier effort attempted to nurture future teachers through internship

In reading the Dec. 3 article “A race gap widens in the classroom,” I reflected that this is not a new concern. The Institute for Multicultural Connections, IMC, funded by a St. Paul Companies grant, was implemented in 1996. I was honored to be asked to be the program director.

The program provided a summer intern residential experience for high school students of color and their college dorm counselors. The experience began with an introduction to teaching and an invitation to join the profession. Students then had an opportunity to dialogue with their mentors, also teachers of color, who assisted them in writing lesson plans and teaching those lessons. The workshop at St. Olaf College provided this experience from 1996 to 2002 for cohorts of 25 to 35 high school students recruited from city and suburban schools. The cohort classes reflected the diversity of their schools: Asian, Native American, African-American, young men and women participated. The teachers represented the ethnicity of their students. The interface was poignant and, in some cases, life-changing. Alumni of IMC have joined the profession, in part, because of the seed planted by their role model teachers at these workshops.

Harlan Anderson, Walker, Minn.

The writer is the former principal of North Community High School and a member of the Leech Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.