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Editorials

Editor’s note: Today’s editorials originally appeared in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and The Olympian. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.

Living in a small town in rural America such as Walla Walla has its advantages. One of those is the dangerous and disturbing national trends arrive late.

Unfortunately, they do arrive.

And it is now clear that the “Juuling” — using small and inconspicuous electronic cigarettes, about the size of a USB flash drive, that can offer up unhealthy doses of nicotine — is a growing problem in the Walla Walla Valley.

Amy Osterman, youth marijuana and tobacco prevention coordinator for Walla Walla County Department of Community Health, recently talked with Union-Bulletin reporter Sheila Hagar. Her intent was to alert local residents, parents in particular, about the latest way that teens, tweens and even younger children are smoking.

Hagar reported Sunday that a Juul e-cigarette is made by San Franscico-based JUUL Labs. It has been available for only three years but has already captured nearly half of the e-cig market.

Juul’s popularity is attributed to the nicotine buzz, how it can be concealed and the sweet, tasty flavors the vapor comes in.

“The device’s flavor cartridges come in kid-friendly varieties like mango, creme brulee, and gummi bear. And the scents they give off are not always immediately recognizable to unfamiliar adults, principals say,” according to Education Week, a nonprofit newsletter.

And that brings us back to Walla Walla where Osterman said locals students using the product smell as if they’ve consumed candy or gum.

“San Francisco has banned flavors because they are so attractive to youth,” Osterman said. “And there are other e-liquids, and on the bottle they look like Sour Patch Kids.”

This is an insidious problem that can’t be ignored nationally or locally. The federal government has some oversight and should use it to target the use by minors.

To this point, the FDA seems clueless.

“We don’t yet fully understand why these products are so popular among youth. But it’s imperative that we figure it out, and fast. These documents may help us get there,” U.S. Food and Drug Administration Director Scott Gottlieb said in April.

Don’t understand? Serioulsy? Let’s start with candy flavors and a nicotine buzz.

Perhaps the FDA needs some insights from folks at the local level such as Osterman, who grasp the health risks Juuling has to young people.

The great ‘blue wave’ jolts home

The political “blue wave” that favors Democrats in the 2018 election cycle hit shore with force in Washington.

Tuesday’s initial primary election results make a few things clear besides the unpopularity of President Donald Trump in this state and county.

Thurston County Democrats got out in force, seeking change in their county commission government, which had flipped from the control of three Democrats until 2014 to an all-Independent trio that leans well to the right.

Bud Blake, an incumbent Independent first elected in 2014, captured a plurality of votes in the primary, or just over a third of ballots cast. But right behind Blake with nearly a third of votes was Democrat Tye Menser, followed by Democrat Melissa Denton with over a quarter of votes.

Together the Democrats had almost 60 percent of votes while another Independent, Jed Haney, received a little over 5 percent.

Similarly legislative and congressional seats that looked solidly Republican just two or four years ago are swaying back toward Democrats. Overall Democrats had a majority of votes in 16 state House races held today by Republicans and four more GOP seats in the Senate.

Republicans were losing everywhere from Clark County to Whatcom County, in Grays Harbor and in the suburbs of both Seattle and Tacoma.

If the Democrats expand their current razor-thin voting majorities of 50-48 in the House and 25-24 in the Senate, they may demolish they gridlock that blocked Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee’s agendas on taxes and environmental issues after he took office in 2013.

Among the newly vulnerable in South Sound is Republican Rep. Drew MacEwen from Union. He trailed Democrat David Daggett in the 35th district which wraps around Puget Sound from western Thurston County to Mason County and includes some of south Kitsap County.

In other 35th district races, Republican Rep. Dan Griffey of Allyn was ahead of Democrat challenger James Thomas. But in the Senate, two self-identified Democrats advance to November — challenger Irene Bowling, who has party backing, and conservative Sen. Tim Sheldon who typically teams up with Republicans.

In the other three districts that overlap Thurston County, incumbents were looking safe.

The heavy winds pushing the blue wave were also huge in federal races. Locally three-term U.S. Rep. Denny Heck, an Olympia Democrat, had over 60 percent of the vote.

Three of our state’s four GOP-held seats were almost in reach for Democrats. And Democratic U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell had more votes than her 28 challengers combined, more than doubling the GOP runner-up Susan Hutchison, a Trump supporter.

The real campaign starts after Labor Day. But anyone wearing a red campaign hat better put a strap on it.

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