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FBI To Potentially Open Civil Rights Investigation Over Elijah McClain’s Death

Nearly one year later, Elijah McClain’s story has not only begun circulating social media, but gathered enough attention to get the investigation formerly reopened and reviewed. In fact, the FBI and US Justice Department recently made a statement in which they claimed that they’ve been reviewing the circumstances surrounding McClain’s death since 2019. 

The review so far has mainly focused on determining whether or not a federal civil rights investigation is warranted based on the initial evidence. The statement claimed that the matter was “ongoing” as they’re in the process of gathering additional pieces of information such as testimonials and other evidence that could be useful. According to the FBI, the Aurora Police Department and other parties working within the city have been cooperating through it all. 

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McClain’s family reacted to the news recently with their own statement in which they expressed their shock, but relief, that the investigation will continue to be reviewed. 

“I am both surprised and pleased to hear that a civil rights investigation is being considered. The Aurora Police Department has a long and sordid history of both brutality and racism, and a comprehensive civil rights investigation is long overdue.”

Mari Newman went on to invite the federal agencies to reach out to the family whenever needed, as they will “happily provide information to assist in this critically important investigation.” 

McClain’s death is a story that’s become all too familiar in America, and is the reason we’re currently seeing a nationwide demand for social justice and racial equality for black individuals. McClain was 23-years-old when he was walking home from the store late at night. McClain had anemia, which caused his body to become cold very easily, so he walked home in full sweats and a ski mask to remain warm. Someone noticed McClain and reported a “suspicious looking man” to the police. 

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McClain was then stopped by three white police officers and when he resisted initial contact with one officer, an aggressive struggle was brought on by the police and they put him in a carotid hold; more commonly referred to as a choke-hold. They held him in the choke-hold for 15 minutes while he pleaded that he “couldn’t breathe,” vomited, and briefly lost consciousness. When paramedics arrived at the scene they injected him with a dose of ketamine to sedate him. McClain then suffered a heart attack on the way to the hospital, and was declared brain dead three years later. 

As of right now all three officers involved still have their jobs but have been reassigned to “non-enforcement duties.” The main reasoning for this reassignment was to keep the “officers safety as priority,” sparking massive new waves of anger and protests. More than 2 million people have now signed a petition demanding that justice be served for these men who murdered 23-year-old McClain. 

As the investigation got brought into the mainstream, multiple Aurora officers have been placed on administrative leave after new images surfaced of them near the scene where McClain was murdered. The investigation into all parties involved is still pending according to the Aurora police chief. 

“This investigation will be publicly released in its entirety promptly upon its conclusion. This will include reports, photographic evidence obtained, officer’s names, and my final determination which can rise to the level of termination.”

The FBI and Justice Department said that they’re aware of all media reports surrounding the case and photographs that have already been made public before the investigation could conclude, however, they claim to not have any further comments until that conclusion is actually met.

Neanderthal

Neanderthals Buried Their Dead With Flowers, According To New Discovery

Scientists are constantly looking into the history of humanity for any details they can gather regarding our culture and what it used to look like as it came into development. We evolved from Neanderthals, who evolved from monkeys, and as our consciousness came more into fruition as our genetics and brain capacities also continued to evolve, our ancestors were able to conceptualize things such as religion, art, and the basis of humanity as we know it today. 

Recently, in the Shanidar Cave located in Iraqi Kurdistan, archaeologist’s discovered Neanderthal remains that appeared to be over 70,000 years old; a discovery as monumental as this hasn’t occurred in over 20 years. According to the study posted in regards to this discovery, there’s a significant reason why it’s being labeled as “monumental” as it gave experts a real insight into how our ancestors processed death, and even a look at what could be the first use of cemeteries and other traditional ceremonious elements that one would do in times of death/grieving.

“So much research on how Neanderthals treated their dead has to involve returning to finds from 60 or even a 100 years ago. To have primary evidence of such quality from this famous Neanderthal site will allow us to use modern technologies to explore everything from ancient DNA to long-held questions about Neanderthal ways of death, and whether they were similar to our own,”  said Emma Pomeroy, lead study author at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology.

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The 60-year-old data that Pomeroy is referring to in this quote regards famous archaeologist Ralph Solecki and his own experience with Shanidar Cave and Neanderthal death culture. In the mid-1950’s, Solecki discovered the remains of 10 Neanderthal men, women and children in the cave. Before this, there had been little to no discoveries of mass grave sites for Neanderthals, so the fact that Solecki found 10 was quite remarkable. 

Solecki also noted in his initial discoveries that he found ancient clumps of what appeared to be pollen within the bones of the remains. This is where the first theories regarding Neanderthal rituals began to emerge, as Solecki was quick to suggest that our ancestors likely buried their dead and did so with flowers as a part of their “funeral” traditions. At the time, it was hard for him to gain any credibility regarding this theory due to the fact that up until his discovery it was generally understood that all Neanderthal’s were the spitting image of how we stereotype them; brute, dumb, big and aggressive.

Due to a slew of political complications and his health getting the best of him, Solecki never was able to return to the caves before his death last year, however, between 2016 and 2019, the team who wrote the study in the scientific journal Antiquity were able to go back, make some new discoveries of their own, and even help to further prove Solecki’s theory. 

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When the team from Cambridge returned to the Shanidar Cave and discovered even more Neanderthal remains in a “unique assemblage” in regards to one another, they began to think that Solecki was definitely onto something. Their initial conclusion was that the Shanidar Z’s (what the team referred to the deceased Neanderthal group as) likely routinely returned to this specific cave location to bury their dead; creating what could be one of the world’s first ever cemeteries. 

Beyond just the bodies themselves, the team also discovered a large triangular rock prominently placed amongst the remains, which could’ve been used as a grave marker/tombstone. The clumps of pollen that Solecki mentioned in his initial studies were also found yet again, nearly 65 years later, within the rib fragments of the remains. 

Researchers want to move beyond the basic realm of the start of humanity and really dive into where the birth of human culture began. Our ancestors were one species, of one race/ethnicity, so at one point in time, there was a universally accepted way of life that all of our ancestors accepted. The goal is to get to the root of that creation, and discover where it all came from and why. 

“In recent years we have seen increasing evidence that Neanderthals were more sophisticated than previously thought, from cave markings to use of decorative shells and raptor talons. If Neanderthals were using Shanidar cave as a site of memory for the repeated ritual interment of their dead, it would suggest cultural complexity of a high order,” Pomeroy said.

Depressed Man

“Deaths of Despair” Reach Unprecedented Levels in US, Experts Say

Perhaps one of the most objective statistical indicators of the health of a society is the life expectancy of its citizens. In the United States, life expectancy has risen from 69.7 years in 1960 to 78.69 years in 2016, a gradual increase mirroring the success of medical advancements, public health campaigns, and general economic growth over the course of the modern era. However, American life expectancy has been on the decline in recent years, as a result of the epidemic of obesity as well as so-called “deaths of despair,” which include drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, and suicide. 

In a certain sense, this problem is unique to the United States, as other developed nations around the world have not seen a similar, concurrent decline in life expectancy. This worrying development persists despite the fact that the United States spends more on health care per capita than any other developed nation and that the quality of healthcare in the US, for those who are able to receive it, is comparable to that of most advanced countries. As such, experts believe that factors like “income inequality and mental distress” are the root cause of the increase in rates of death across the country, as the experience of despair leads people to make decisions that increase the chances of early death.

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When viewed as a public health issue, the specific factors that lead to early deaths among Americans become clear, as many Americans, even those who do not suffer from diseases of despair, can recognize the social factors that lead to the development of these illnesses either through their personal lived experiences or through the experiences of people they know. According to Anne Case, a contributing author of the book “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism,”  “the pillars that once helped give life meaning—a good job, a stable home life, a voice in the community—have all eroded.” 

In Case’s account, the nationwide rise in despair has its roots in economic and political factors, as workers without college degrees have been left out of the increasingly-harsh labor market, men’s wages have remained stagnant for half a century, and companies have been eliminating decent-paying jobs with good benefits, instead outsourcing low-skill work to cheaper economies. Despite the changes in the distribution of wealth in the American economy, the government has failed to adjust to changes wrought by the rapid and accelerating pace of technological innovation and globalization, generating an atmosphere of despair among much of the American public, Case argues.

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While the highly-complex relationship between societal factors, despair, unhealthy behaviors, and early death requires more study, experts view the rise of drug abuse, particularly opioid abuse, as symptomatic of larger social pressures that reduce in people a sense of their meaning in life, instilling in them an attitude of nihilism and apathy that drives them to make unhealthy choices in pursuit of relief from their suffering. According to one study, rates of overdoses and suicides have been on the rise since the 1990s, suggesting that the problem is not just related to the current political environment, but also to longstanding social trends as well as substantial increases in the availability of illicit drugs. 

That being said, there are signs of hope that society is beginning to tackle the public health crisis of despair, as the stigma surrounding mental illness has diminished in recent years and an increasing number of businesses are prioritizing the health of their employees, including when it comes to problems like drug addiction and mental illness. If you’re experiencing despair, keep in mind that there exist resources to help with mental health problems, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), which is available 24 hours a day.

Alzheimers

Breakthrough in Treatment of Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is often referred to as a “cruel” disease, robbing the sufferer of many cherished memories and causing deep sadness to the loved ones they may not remember anymore.

But a new drug primarily used with Parkinson’s may be able to help ease symptoms.

A recent study found that the drug pimavanserin can help people who suffer not only with Alzheimer’s disease but other strains of dementia, resulting in the study finishing early due to how obvious the benefits were.

In a conference in San Diego, California researchers shared their findings and are hoping that pimavanserin will be the latest drug for nearly twenty years that categorically targets dementia-related psychosis. It also seems to help with other symptoms including hallucinations that can cause the caregivers, patients and loved ones emotional stress, due to them often resulting in the patients suffering from anxiety and/or aggression which can often lead to verbal and physical abuse.

The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation acknowledged the discovery with Chief Science Officer Dr. Howard Fillit suggesting it would be a “very important advance.”

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Chief Science Officer Maria Carrillo commented “there is a huge unmet need for better treatment” which is why the focus is primarily on preventing future cases of dementia as well as aiming to find a cure.

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Pimavanserin is sold as Nuplazid by Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc and is provided as a pill to be taken each day. It is believed to work by stopping the chemical in the brain that appears to activate hallucinations and was originally approved in 2016 for Parkinson’s-related psychosis.

It is believed around 8 million Americans suffer from dementia with studies showing psychosis has developed in 30% of patients.

Dr. Jeffrey Cummings of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas commented, “it’s terrifying. You believe that people might be trying to hurt you. You believe that people are stealing from you. You believe that your spouse is unfaithful to you. Those are the three most common false beliefs.”

Acadia carried out the study of around 400 sufferers of dementia and psychosis. Each patient received a small dose of pimavanserin for three months with those who appeared to respond separated into two different groups. Half of these were then given “fake” tablets for the next six months although they were taken off the trial if their symptoms got worse or they had a relapse. The remaining 50 percent continued to take to pill. Importantly, none of the patients were aware of which drug they were taking.

However, the study ceased when it was obvious that those on the fake tablets were over twice as likely as those who took the real tablet – a staggering 28% compared to just under 13%.
Another positive aspect of the study showed that there were not very many serious side effects, with only 5% of those taking the drug complaining of problems and 4% on those on fake tablets.
Although urinary tract infections and headaches were seen in both groups the study also suffered two deaths which study leaders confirmed were nothing to do with the drug.

And although the study was small, the positive outcome was huge, yet Carrillo is not sure whether the federal Food and Drug Administration will order more studies before approving the different use of the drug.

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At the moment anti-psychotic medication can be a negative experience for users and therefore are not approved for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia with Fillit admitting “they’re often used off label because we have very few other options.”

However as with all medication, there have to be warnings that the drugs could increase the risk of fatalities, specifically in elderly sufferers.

The other issue that patients and their families will have to deal with is the cost with each course of medication costing around $3,000 each month, however the actual cost to the patient will depend on their insurance coverage.

Alongside the medication there are other ways in which you can help people who are living with Alzheimer’s disease such as making sure you keep in touch with them. Many family members stop visiting as they find it too distressing however a card, a telephone call or even a letter can still show that you care about your family member even if you cannot face the visit.

You should also educate yourself about the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia so as your loved one continues to suffer you can hopefully help them and yourself to deal with it.

If the patient you know is not a family member but a good friend or neighbor, offering to sit with them while their family takes a break will always be welcome. It can be tough living with a sufferer so a reprieve will always be welcome.

Happy Woman

Life Expectancy in America Declining According to Latest Study

A study published in the journal JAMA has highlighted some reasons behind the latest news that life expectancy in the United States has started decreasing, despite having been on the increase for several years.

The study discovered that Americans between the ages of 25 and 64, or “working age,” are dying younger due to a combination of suicide, hypertension, and drug abuse as well as over 30 more different causes.

It has also been discovered that other wealthy countries around the world have a longer life expectancy to those in the US, which appears to be declining at a dramatic rate. And with working age adults seeing the biggest increase in deaths Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine believes it is a “distinctly American phenomenon.”

Woolf, who is co-author of the study alongside Heidi Schoomaker, explained that “death rates among working age adults are on the rise. We have known for years that the health of Americans is inferior to that of other wealthy nations, but our research shows that the decline in US health relative to other countries began as early as the 1980s.”

Both Woolf and Schoomaker looked at over 50 years worth of US life expectancy data with the results appearing to show that although life expectancy began to rise annually between 1959 and 2014, these figures stabilized around 2011 before declining again.

And America’s relationship with opioid abuse seems to be one of the main reasons, along with suicide and alcohol abuse, especially among young and middle aged adults. The figures increased amongst those who did not finish high school.

Strangely, the decline in life expectancy was higher in areas including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont – all in New England, while those living in the “Ohio Valley” – Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana – were also affected.

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The rise of the opioid epidemic appears to be one of the main reasons in these areas, especially since the collapse of the manufacturing industries that were a strong source of income in the regions. In fact, since 2010 over one third of “excess deaths” were reported from the Ohio Valley states since.

However those living along the Pacific coast – Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington – saw their life expectancy increase during 2010 and 2017.

The authors of the report claims that data from previous years shows that Americans began to slip behind those in other countries as far back as the early 1980s.

“Historically this [period] was the beginning of the opioid epidemic, the shrinking of the middle class and the widening of income inequality,” Woolf said.

And although there were economic shifts around the world as a whole during this time, Woolf believes the lack of support experienced by struggling families contributed to the drop in America stating that “in other countries, families that fall on hard times have programs and services available to cushion the blow. In America, people often have to fend for themselves.”

With few social services to help families it may help us to understand why there was a larger increase in death among females as they “have even fewer support systems, and more childcare responsibilities.”

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Howard Koh commented on the study, saying that although the “most exhaustive and detailed analysis of this topic to date” has helped us find the main causes of death the citizens of America should start “embracing the leading causes of life.”

For instance, by looking at how social connections alongside strong communities are affecting our wellbeing.

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“Other countries spend relatively more in terms of social services. Health is much more than what happens in a doctor’s office. It starts where people live, learn, labor and pray.”

So what can we do to improve our life expectancy? Harvard Medical School has a few suggestions and while most of them are both obvious and easier to do, some may have you asking why!

For instance, we all know that smoking, excessive drinking and drug abuse will seriously damage our health but did you know that people who have quit smoking could repair some of the damage caused by cigarettes, cigars and even marijuana?

Once you stop smoking your risk of heart disease starts to reduce after only a few months, matching that of a non-smoker after around 5 years. Likewise with strokes. Giving up tobacco can see a reduction in the risk of having a stroke within two to four years while the mortality rate from colorectal cancer also reduces each year.

And while these statistics apply to most people, quitting smoking before you reach 50 will make the health benefits stronger, sooner.

There have also been discussions on the dangers of vaping, with many calling for the fruit flavored options to be banned.

A healthy diet, keeping fit and building a good network around you are also key to keeping you healthy and strong and therefore living longer.

By doing these things we can hopefully turn the trend on the average American’s life span before we are in “a future in which declining life expectancy may be the new norm.”

Protest Hong Kong

Hong Kong Protests Escalate, Threatening Society

The pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have only grown more intense as time has progressed, despite the introduction of measures designed to curb frequent and massive demonstrations such as the withdrawal of a bill that would have allowed extradition of political dissidents to China and the instatement of a face-mask ban and curfews designed to discourage dissent. While the loosely-organized but nonetheless formidable protestors remained non-violent for several months, recent escalations by both demonstrators and police have led to the development of a more dangerous and confrontational relationship between the two, with no signs of de-escalation anytime soon. In fact, the situation has become so precarious that Hong Kong police worry about the impending collapse of the rule of law, particularly in the aftermath of the shooting of one protestor and the setting on fire of a supporter of Beijing on Monday.

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After five months of intense protests and the ongoing failure of the Hong Kong government to satisfy most of the protestors’ demands, demonstrators remain unrelenting despite growing increasingly frustrated with government inaction, creating an environment more hospitable to violence and other anti-social behavior. As the protests went on, police resorted to increasingly-violent counter-protest strategies, deploying tear gas and using water cannons and rubber bullets against demonstrators who threw bricks and molotov cocktails, destroying property. October 1st of this year marked a turning point in the use of violence against protestors in Hong Kong, as police shot an 18-year old protestor in the chest at point-blank range, leaving him in critical condition. 

As neither demonstrators nor the government seem willing to compromise or relent, the ongoing intense protests are bound to gradually erode Hong Kong society for as long as they continue.

Yesterday, police again used live rounds against a protestor, firing at point-blank range in an area where demonstrators were blocking traffic, after which police deployed pepper spray to disperse protestors as onlookers accused them of murder. In a separate, unrelated incident yesterday, protesters doused a man who was criticizing the protests with gasoline and lit him on fire. Both individuals survived the attacks and are being treated in hospitals, in serious condition. The city’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has been ramping up her rhetoric against the protests, warning that they could “take Hong Kong to the road of ruin” and placing blame squarely on pro-democracy advocates, calling them “the enemy of the people” and accusing them of selfishly paralyzing the city. She added that she thought it was extremely unlikely that more protests would lead to further concessions from the government. In addition to physical violence, the unrest has included property destruction, as protestors have swarmed universities, destroying windows and fixtures by throwing bricks and setting things on fire. Throughout Hong Kong, classes at many universities were canceled as officials grappled with repairing the damage and preparing for future unrest.

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Nine people have committed suicide in connection with the protests, as political frustration and the erosion of democratic norms have caused mental health issues among Hong Kong’s youth, many of whom are deeply politically engaged. In addition, a man died after sustaining serious injuries during a fall in a car park where police were using tear gas to break up protests. Though no one has yet been directly killed by police or protestors, further deaths are all but inevitable as long as protests continue. Police say that in the last week they have arrested 266 people in connection with the protests, and as the number of active protesters is estimated to be in the millions, the number of arrests is sure to climb. Furthermore, months of protests have had a destructive effect on Hong Kong’s tourism industry and economy more broadly, as the once-safe city is now subject to frequent, violent interruptions to everyday life, and critical city infrastructure remains in a state of disrepair. 

Hong Kong is scheduled to hold local elections this month. Due to Hong Kong’s political structure, however, the outcome of these elections are unlikely to have a strong impact on the government, and are especially unlikely to appease protestors. As neither demonstrators nor the government seem willing to compromise or relent, the ongoing intense protests are bound to gradually erode Hong Kong society for as long as they continue. 

Income Inequality

The Cultural Impact of Income Inequality

Over the past several decades, as tax cuts and other economic policies have benefited wealthy Americans at the expense of lower and middle-class Americans, the gap between the wealthy and the poor has continued to widen. A number of factors account for this; not only have wages remained virtually stagnant since the 1970s despite accelerating economic growth overall, but the cost of living has also increased, as have expenses for education and health care. This radical transformation in the country’s economic landscape has not only had effects on the financial world, but on the broader cultural environment that informs human behavior in society. Nearly every aspect of life is affected, from entertainment to politics to our shared system of fundamental values. 

Perhaps the most striking example of the broader impacts of income inequality is the fact that rich people live longer lives than poor people. For some groups of disadvantaged people, life expectancy is shorter than it was for their parents, pointing to the extreme effects of these people’s inability to earn as much as their parents did. A number of factors account for this difference in life expectancy; one possible explanation is racism in the healthcare industry, as minorities are both likely to receive less in wages and face discrimination in hospitals and doctor’s offices. Another factor is the fact that people are not able to retire as young as they used to be able to; many workers continue their jobs into their 60’s and 70’s, opening them up to stress and work-related health complications in old age. Additionally, as healthcare costs increase, many lower-income individuals may delay or opt out of doctors’ visits over financial concerns, leading to exacerbated illnesses and early death.

The type of work people engage in, too, is shaped by income inequality. While human societies have virtually always been divided by class, with lower classes working in service of the upper classes, the widening income gap between the classes has led to an explosion of service-related jobs, such as manicure and massage therapy. These types of jobs often employ immigrants and workers who did not receive a college degree, and are characterized by low pay and poor working conditions. Nail salons in particular are plagued by poor and illegal working conditions, leading to a statewide investigation by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

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This category of work, which many call “wealth work,” also applies to jobs like driving an Uber or delivering food. Though these jobs are beneficial to those without a college education, particularly in the aftermath of the collapse of the American manufacturing industry, they also point to a cultural shift towards more rigid definitions of class, which makes it hard for lower-class individuals to advance in their careers. What’s more, these jobs are often performed with a certain degree of anonymity, as they are performed through an app or in urban business centers far from the worker’s place of residence, in contrast with the more personal interactions between the classes of several decades ago.

The gap in income between the classes correlates with an increase in polarization in American politics; as the Right has moved further to the political right under authoritarian leader Donald Trump, the Democratic Party as a whole has moved to the left in recent years, with once-taboo leftist policy positions like a substantial raise of minimum wage, entirely socialized medicine, the cancellation of student debt, and the idea of a universal basic income becoming topics of open discussion. The wealthy class has also transformed politics through the use of substantial political donations, with Donald Trump having raised well over $100 million for his re-election campaign this year alone. Wealthy donors, including oil executives and Wall Street titans, have successfully lobbied to cut taxes on the super-rich and roll back regulations which are meant to protect customers but impose costs on large companies. On a large scale, the effects of these policy changes have been to further disenfranchise the lower and middle classes in service of the upper class, as evidenced by the rapidly declining quality-of-life of most Americans.

Girl Vaping

After String of Vaping-Related Hospitalizations, Walmart Ends E-Cigarette Sales

On Friday, Walmart said that it would stop selling all e-cigarettes after their inventory runs out, citing “the growing federal, state, and local regulatory complexity and uncertainty regarding e-cigarettes.” The announcement comes in the midst of a number of reports linking use of e-cigarettes, or other electronic vapor inhalation devices, to health issues, including hospitalizations and in a few cases death. Walmart joins Rite-Aid, Costco, and Dollar General in retailers who have decided to stop selling electronic nicotine delivery systems. And Target, Walmart’s biggest competitor, has never sold e-cigarettes and stopped selling cigarettes in 1996. That being said, Walmart is the largest retailer in the country, and other retailers tend to follow Walmart’s lead, as Walmart Chief Executive is the chairman of the Business Roundtable, an influential lobbying organization that includes among its members some of the biggest companies in the world.

While the exact causes of the recent string of vaping-related health scares are as of yet unknown, many affected individuals reported vaping THC products, including some which were acquired illegitimately, and some patients reported using nicotine products. Nevertheless, Walmart’s decision reflects a rapidly-rising anti-vaping sentiment, as e-cigarette use among adolescents has skyrocketed, owing in part to the success of Juul, a company that manufacturers nicotine cartridges and diffusers which can easily be mistaken for USB drives. 

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The Trump administration had seriously considered banning all flavored vape products in an effort to curb their appeal among young people, but abruptly changed course. Other ways of fighting the popularity of vaping among youth, such as ultra-sensitive vapor detectors which can be installed in schools and other public places, have been proposed. And while manufacturers like Juul claim their products are intended as smoking cessation aids, to allow nicotine addicts to gradually reduce their intake of the drug, these manufacturers profit tremendously off of the sales of e-cigarettes to people who have no intention of quitting, particularly young people. The National Institute on Drug Abuse this week released survey results indicating that the prevalence of vaping among teenagers has doubled since 2017.

Walmart’s action will likely have little impact, as there’s no end in sight for the resilient and centuries-old tobacco industry, which now has more loyal customers than ever before.

It should be noted that Walmart continues to sell regular cigarettes, which have been found definitively to cause major health problems, including cancer, lung disease, and early death, whereas the long-term negative health effects of vaping are still unknown. Additionally, Walmart continues to sell assault-style weapons even in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings in the United States, though the company has imposed limits on the sale of ammunition and discourages open carry of guns in stores. Three major television stations, CNN, CBS, and Viacom have also said they’d stop airing advertisements from e-cigarette companies on their networks in response to fear about illnesses. Additionally, several politicians have returned donations that they received from e-cigarette companies like Juul, unwilling to be associated with companies that have the potential to become the face of a public health epidemic in this country. 

Some fear that Walmart’s decision will drive people who ordinarily vape to take up smoking cigarettes instead, as the retailer still offers the latter nicotine product. Others criticize the view that flavored e-cigarettes should be banned, noting that adults also enjoy flavored e-cigarettes, and banning flavors would negatively impact those who use e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. Regardless of Walmart’s decision to no longer sell e-cigarettes, the nicotine products are easy to find and acquire, even for teenagers, as they continue to be featured in gas stations, convenience stores, and smoke shops. As such, Walmart’s action will likely have little impact, as there’s no end in sight for the resilient and centuries-old tobacco industry, which now has more loyal customers than ever before.

Featured image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaping360/31014695273