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E-cigarette usage nearly doubles in US high schools: survey

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The percentage of high school seniors who used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days nearly doubled to 20.9 percent from last year, results of a survey released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse showed on Monday.

The increase in vaping by 10th and 12th graders was the largest year-over-year jump for any substance ever measured by the survey, which started 44 years ago.

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The annual survey, which also measures use of other substances including marijuana, alcohol and opioids, questioned more than 44,000 students from 8th, 10th and 12th grades in U.S. public and private schools.

The percentage of high school students who used nicotine-based vaping devices, known as e-cigarettes, has risen by a third over the past year, the survey showed.

E-cigarettes have been a divisive topic in the public health community. Some focus on the potential benefit of shifting lifelong smokers to less harmful nicotine products, while others fear it will create a new generation addicted to nicotine.

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, facing mounting pressure to act on the rising popularity of vaping devices, announced sweeping new restrictions on flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

The one-year rise in vaping were mirrored by changes in the perception of availability of e-cigarretes, the institute said in its report, with more 8th and 10th graders reporting that vaping devices and e-liquids containing nicotine were easier to obtain in 2018 than in 2017.

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E-cigarette makers, including San Francisco-based Juul Labs Inc, have also faced scrutiny from the FDA amid the increase in teenage use of the devices, which look like a USB flash drive and vaporize a flavored liquid containing nicotine.

Juul said in November it would pull popular flavors such as mango, cucumber and fruit from many retail store shelves to reduce teenage use of its products.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Chris Kirkham in Los Angeles

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A whopping 14 percent of new US COVID-19 cases are coming from Texas

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With the daily number of new coronavirus infections in Texas now exceeding that of most other states, experts say Texas has become a hot spot of the global pandemic and that more aggressive measures are needed to slow the virus’ spread.

Texas’ new confirmed cases of the coronavirus now make up around 14% of the U.S. total — measured by a seven-day average — a significantly higher proportion than its 9% share of the nation’s population. Since July 1, the U.S. has reported 358,027 new infections. Of those, 50,599 were in Texas.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported more than 10,000 new cases — representing nearly 20% of the nation’s new cases for the day. It could be a “catch-up” from the July 4 holiday, DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen said, noting that numbers reported Sunday and Monday were lower.

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Devastating new ad uses Ronald Reagan’s words against Trump to stunning effect

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The Lincoln Project is not the only right-wing group that has been creating attack ads slamming President Donald Trump. Another is Republican Voters Against Trump, which uses the words of President Ronald Reagan in its latest video to illustrate Trump’s failures as president.

In the ad — which lasts one minute and 40 seconds — RVAT contrast Reagan’s words with images of the U.S. during the Trump era. The message is not subtle: Under Trump, the United States is a long way from Reagan’s vision for the country.

The ad isn’t aimed at liberals and progressives, many of whom would argue that Reagan’s economic policies were bad for the American working class during the 1980s. It asks Republicans: “Has your party left you?”

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The sheep-like loyalty of Trump supporters is starting to backfire

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Donald Trump thinks his voters are morons. This universal truth was once again demonstrated this week by a Facebook ad working Trump’s new statue-oriented campaign strategy. The ad declared, “WE WILL PROTECT THIS” and featured a photo of … no, not some racist-loser Confederate general astride a horse but “Cristo Redentor,” the famous statue of Jesus Christ that sits atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, which, for those keeping track, is not in the United States but in Brazil, a sovereign nation in a different continent.

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