Tag Archives: vaping

Winslow Park Plea: Dirt Bikers, Clean Up After Yourselves!

Deb Howland-Murray calls herself “a portrait artist who benefited tremendously from growing up in Westport’s artistic environment. After a sojourn for college and adventures, I returned to Westport. I have lived here for the past 35 years.” 

She writes:

Each spring people pour out of their houses and into nature, shedding months of cold the way a snake sheds its skin.

This year brings new significance to this outdoor migration: a heightened longing for beauty and distraction in the spring of COVID-19.

Maybe that’s why so many people flock to Winslow Park. They come not only to walk dogs, but to enjoy its 28 acres of sunny fields and dense woods. They are parents with children riding scooters and bikes, joggers, couples sitting in conversation on the park’s benches, and teenagers anxious to try their skills on the dirt bike jumps in one of the forested, trail-laced sections of the park.

The Winslow Park dirt bike course. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Winslow is a treasure. Now more than ever, it’s a breath of fresh air literally and figuratively. I’ve watched it come to life this spring, delighted in April’s little purple flowers, the massive trees leafing out in May, the fields that now read yellow with buttercups.

These are such a sharp contrast to the trash, broken glass and empty vape boxes carpeting the dirt bike section of the park.

Vape boxes litter the dirt bike area. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

I like to watch the teenagers barreling down the course’s steep hill and becoming airborne on the ascent. But it saddens me that the fun is coupled with such disrespect for the surrounding environment, one that’s dotted with wonderful examples of human creativity as well as natural beauty.

The dirt bike course was created by enterprising teenagers, and adjacent to it there is a remarkable lean-to someone made from large branches. Next to the lean-to, a picnic table waits invitingly in the shade. I’ve seen people meditating there.

But who would want to stop there now? Who could bring their small children to play among the empty cans and vape boxes? Which paw will be the first to be sliced by glass shards? When will an unknowing puppy be drawn to the scent of food on a snack wrapper and make the unfortunate mistake of swallowing it?

Trash left on tables. The lean-to is in the back. (Photo/Deb Howland-Murray)

Don’t get me wrong. I love teenagers; I raised 5 of them. An avid skier and hunter-jumper rider, I’m all for the excitement of speed and the joy of flying through the air. I want the kids to have fun in the park. They seem like good kids, wearing their helmets and respectfully keeping a physical distance when they meet others on the trails. They’re polite.

I’m happy that they have a safe, outdoor place to congregate in small numbers at such a difficult and disappointing time to be a teenager. And I’m not interested in passing judgment on what they might or might not be drinking or smoking. That’s up to their parents.

But speaking directly to you, young people: Nature is not your trash can. The park is there for all to enjoy. Now especially, we need to add what we can to each other’s enjoyment.

The Winslow Park lean-to. (Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

Please, kiddos: Create whatever mess you want in your rooms – I certainly did. Just bring a bag with you to the park, collect your garbage and drop it in the trash cans when you exit.

We dog owners do the same. Believe me, collecting your garbage is not nearly as gross as what we are collecting and ferrying to those cans! But what if we didn’t? What if the area you enjoy was full of the kind of waste no one wants to step in?

So, c’mon. Litter-ally, place your drop in the massive bucket of consideration we need right now. It’s not too much to ask.

Vaping Sequel: Merritt Country Store Removes Signs

Yesterday’s post about vaping drew more than 60 comments.

To recap: An “06880” reader wrote about her frustration that the Merritt Country Store’s front windows were plastered with ads for vaping products. She suggested a boycott of the convenience store, next to Coffee An’.

Juul ads at the Merritt Country Store.

Many people responded with outrage about vaping. Some were upset about the boycott call, saying it was one more example of how hard it is to do business here.

Bart Shuldman defended the store. He suggested that instead of demanding a boycott, the original writer should have gone in and told the owners of her concerns.

Dan Katz wondered why Bart didn’t do that himself.

So he did.

Here’s Bart’s report:

I stopped by the store today. The signs were already removed. When I spoke to my friend at the shop, he said:

“We are here to serve the community. We want people to like us. We were so upset when we heard it. We are a mom and pop trying to make it despite the high rent. Just talk to us.”

Action was indeed swift. Here’s the store today:

(Photo/Bart Shuldman)

Now, if you have a problem with lottery tickets: Hold your fire.

[OPINION] Westport Mom: Boycott Stores That Promote Vaping

An alert — and concerned — “06880” reader writes:

The other day my daughters and I walked by the Merritt Country Store. The small shop sells food, candy, cigarettes, magazines, lottery tickets — and all kinds of vaping cartridges. The most well-known are Juuls.

We were on our way to Coffee An’, one of our favorite places in town. I noticed the bright, bold posters in the windows of the Merritt store. All but one advertised vaping. All are placed at children’s eye level.

Ads at the Merritt Country Store. The one on the left is for lottery tickets; all the others are for Juuls.

It reminded me of a great presentation that Dr. Ruth Potee gave recently at Staples High School about drug and alcohol use. She described the e-cigarette campaigns that companies utilize to advertise directly to kids.

They use bold, colorful print to draw attention to products in an effort to get kids attracted, and addicted, early.

There’s even a term for this generation of nicotine-addicted children: “Nic Kids.” There may be fewer smokers in this generation, but nicotine use via e-cigarettes or vaping, is clearly on the rise.

According to former FDA Director Scott Gottlieb — a Westport resident — 3.6 million teenagers (middle and high school students) vaped in 2017. That’s a 40% increase since 2011.

Companies market kid-appealing flavors, such as “fruity” vape cartridges (Juul) via online ads, and cool colorful posters in store windows where kids buy candy, gum and soda,

The federally mandated warnings tell one story. The colorful graphics and alluring text tell quite another.

Teenagers’ developing brains quickly become addicted to nicotine via e-cigarettes and other pod-based nicotine delivery systems. E-cigarette use affects brain development, lungs and future addictive behavior.

A new FDA report connects e-cig devices and vaping with seizures.

As the mother of 3 children, I speak openly about addiction and the undermining of their brains by means of these “ends” (electronic nicotine delivery systems).

I urge every adult to avoid patronizing any store that advertises these drugs to our kids. The only ones who benefit are the drug companies and the stores that advertise and sell their products.

Our kids pay the price.

Westport’s FDA Head Hopes To Snuff Out Juuls

Westporter Dr. Scott Gottlieb was in the news on Wednesday.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb

The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration took aim at e-cigarettes. Targeting both manufacturers and sellers, he gave Juul and 4 other major makers 60 days to prove they can keep their wildly popular devices away from minors.

The FDA also warned 1,100 retailers and issued 131 fines for major corporations — including 7-Eleven and Walgreens — that sell e-cigarettes to people under 18.

The New York Times said Gottlieb’s “aggressive approach against private industry is unusual for an official in the business-friendly Trump administration which has sought to roll back numerous environmental and health regulations.”

But, it added, “critics said that his decision last summer to extend a deadline for e-cigarette manufacturers to demonstrate that their products comply with public health concerns helped perpetuate the the current problem.”

Gottlieb told the Times that “the immense popularity of vaping among teens and the growing addiction among young people was not something he foresaw last summer.”

Juul pods: empty (left) and full.

Regarding actions taken by Juul and other companies since then, he said, if they’d had the impact he intended, “I wouldn’t be viewing the statistics I’m now seeing.”

The Times quoted legal experts, who predicted a “protracted legal fight” over the FDA’s threats.

(To read the entire New York Times story, click here. For one Westport teenager’s story about his e-cigarette addiction, click here.)

Fresh Market Gets In Touch With The Times

Take that, kids!

Fresh Market