90% of smokers start before they turn 18. Will this legislation help?

On Aug. 9, Oregon became the fifth state to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

Oregon has been at the forefront of tobacco cessation and prevention programs for more than 20 years. A 1996 voter-approved tobacco taxation and prevention initiative has prevented an estimated 31,000 Oregon children from picking up the habit, and cigarette use has declined by more than 50% in the state.

The latest tobacco bill, signed by Governor Kate Brown, will continue to build on these efforts, prohibiting the sale and use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products to people under the age of 21.


Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Oregon joins California, Hawaii, Washington, D.C., Maine, and New Jersey in raising the legal age for tobacco use to 21.

Like Oregon, Maine and New Jersey raised the tobacco age to 21 this summer. The Maine legislature successfully overrode the veto of Governor Paul LePage to turn the bill into law on Aug. 2. While New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed the bipartisan bill July 21.

In a statement, Christie cited his mother's death from the effects of smoking and hoped the measure would keep young people from ever starting the addictive habit.

"By raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, we are giving young people more time to develop a maturity and better understanding of how dangerous smoking can be and that it is better to not start smoking in the first place,” he wrote.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images.

While only five states and D.C. have raised the tobacco age so far, many cities and states are considering the measure.

After nearly 10 years of trying, a bill in Texas to raise the tobacco age has bipartisan support and positive momentum. Efforts in Utah, Massachusetts, and Washington state are similarly underway after several fits and starts.

Since statewide measures are time consuming and difficult, 200 cities and towns have taken the step to raise the tobacco age on their own, including Chicago, New York City, Kansas City, and Boston.

Photo by Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images.

Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000, or 1 in 5, deaths in the U.S. each year.

Measures like these are truly a matter of life and death. Smoking causes a majority of the cases of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and it significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and cancer. It can affect fertility and smoking, while pregnant can result in stillbirth or low birth weight.

Each day, more than 3,200 people under 18 try their first cigarette. If current patterns persist, 5.6 million Americans currently under the age of 18 will ultimately die from a smoking-related illness.

Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images.

Something has got to give.

Since 99% of smokers have their first cigarette by 26, (90% before 18), raising the legal tobacco age is an important step toward keeping the next generation healthy and tobacco-free.

Hawaii, California, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon are leading the way. Make sure your city government and state legislature are working to join them.

Photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images.

Sumo Citrus
True

Don Bay has been in the citrus business for over 50 years now, and according to him, his most recent growing endeavor has been the most challenging. Alongside his son Darren and grandson Luke, Don cultivates Sumo Citrus®, one of the most difficult fruits to grow. The Bay family runs San Joaquin Growers Ranch in Porterville, California, one of the farms where the fruit is grown in the United States.

Sumo Citrus was originally developed in Japan, and is an extraordinary hybrid of mandarin, pomelo and navel oranges.

The fruit is temperamental, and it can take time to get a thriving crop. The trees require year-round care, and it takes five years from seed to fruit until they're ready for harvest. Thanks to expert citrus growers like the Bay family though, Sumo Citrus have flourished in California. Don and his son Darren worked together through trial and error to perfect their crop of Sumo Citrus. Darren is now an expert on cultivating this famously temperamental fruit, and his son Luke is learning from him every step of the way.

Don, Darren and Luke BayAll photos courtesy of Sumo Citrus

"Luke's been involved as early as he could come out," Darren said in a YouTube video.

"Having both my son and grandson [working with me] is basically what I've dreamt about," said Don. "To have been able to develop this orchard and have them work on it and work with me — then I don't have to do all the work."

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Public education is one of the most complex issues under normal circumstances, but the pandemic has made it far more complicated. The question of how to meet the needs of kids who come from diverse families, communities, and socioeconomic circumstances—not to mention having diverse mental strengths, interests, and challenges of their own—is never simple, and adding the difficulty of living through a pandemic with its lack of certainty, structure, and security is a whole freaking lot.

Kids' individual experiences during the pandemic have varied greatly. While the overall situation has been hard for everyone, some kids have actually thrived at home, away from the rigid schedules and social quagmire of traditional school. Other kids have floundered without the routine and personal interaction, while still others are stuck in terrible home situations or have needs that can't be met by parents alone. Some kids are being greatly harmed by missing school.

Educators, politicians, public health officials, and parents have gone around and around for the past year trying to figure out what smart, what's safe, what's necessary, and what's not for kids during COVID-19. Many of us are worried about the mental health and educational struggles children are facing. There are no easy answers. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

However, there is an attitude that we can take that will serve all our children as more kids move back to the classroom. A 40-year veteran of our education system, former New York teacher and administrator Therea Thayer Snyder, wrote a letter on Facebook that has resonated with teachers and parents alike. In it, she describes what our kids have experienced during the pandemic, how academic standards and measures no longer apply, and what schools can do to help kids process what they've been through. It reads:

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Benjamin Faust via Unsplash
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

This morning, Joe and Jill Biden went out for a walk with their dogs, Champ and Major, to check out the surprise the first lady had installed overnight for Valentine's Day weekend. The White House lawn has been decorated with oversized hearts that have positive words like LOVE, GRATITUDE, COMPASSION, and FAMILY on them. The one that says HEALING is signed "Love, Jill."

As they walked along with coffee cups in hand, the first couple was met by a few members of the press. The conversation that they had has gone viral—not so much because of how extraordinary it was, but rather the opposite. It was delightfully ordinary, filled with normalcy, decency, and even a random act of kindness for good measure. And the simple goodness of it all is moving people to tears.

Keep Reading Show less
Sergi Cardenas/Instagram

Optical illusions are always fun to play with, and the paintings of Sergi Cadenas are no exception.

If you walk up to one of Cadenas's portraits from one direction, you'll see a face. If you walk up to it from the opposite direction, you'll also see a face—but a totally different one. Sometimes it's a young face that ages as you walk from one side to another, like this one:

Or this one:

Sometimes it's a face that has the...um...face part removed.

Keep Reading Show less