Around the State
Governor Mike Parson recently signed an executive order that is meant to raise awareness of the risks associated with vaping. The executive order directs the Departments of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and Public Safety (DPS) to use existing resources to develop a statewide campaign to educate, warn, and deter the use of vaping devices among Missouri’s youth.
“People across the country are being hospitalized, some even losing their lives, with links to vaping. This is truly an epidemic, and it is critical that actions be taken to protect the health and well-being of Missouri’s youth,” said Parson.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released data showing the increase in the use of vaping among young people has reached the level of an epidemic. The CDC says vaping is now responsible for approximately 1,300 illnesses and at least 26 deaths nationwide. Missouri has seen 22 cases of vaping-related illnesses and one death, with most of these incidents involving young people.
Current Missouri law prohibits the use of vaping devices by individuals under the age of 18, but the Missouri Student Survey has reported an increase in the use of these devices by middle school and high school students every year since 2014. The 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey indicated that the use of vaping devices among high school students increased by 78 percent from 2017 to 2018.
The governor’s executive order directs the state departments to develop and launch an awareness and deterrence campaign within 30 days. It also directs DHSS, DESE, and DPS to review evidence regarding the cases and effects of vaping-related injuries, specifically among youth, and tailor their prevention and educational messaging to counter vaping industry marketing practices that target youth.
In addition to the Executive Order, Parson also signed letters to the FDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services supporting their efforts to address the vaping epidemic.
Updates on the Pacific
As co-chair of the National Conference of State Legislatures Military and Veterans Affairs Task Force, I traveled to Honolulu last week to meet with Department of Defense personnel, defense contractors, and other state legislators to discuss issues concerning defense and other matter in the Pacific region. The trip certainly presents frontline knowledge of our challenges and opportunities in the region, and as always, provided opportunities to exchange ideas with other legislators.
Our first tour included a trip to Marine Corps Training Area Bellows (the old Army Air Force Base) to view their facilities. Here the Marines have areas dedicated to practicing amphibious landings, parachute drops, helicopter deliveries and emergency flight training, as well as a multitude of other training opportunities. We walked through a mock up village area that can be used for any type of setting needed, Middle East, Asia, etc. The villages areas contained loudspeakers that provide the sounds of the village experience, machines that provide smells, and the activities even go so far as to hire locals to portray the villagers. All of this is provided so that soldiers will not be overwhelmed if required to enter a hostile area.
Secondly, we visited US Indo-Pacific Command at Fort Smith for a briefing on the American forces status in the Pacific. As you are aware, China has been growing as a rival in the area, and the command spelled this out in graphic detail. Although China is a long-term problem for the US, the immediate focus is on North Korea.
In reference to China, we also met with the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) organized in 1974. It was certainly very interesting to hear firsthand from representatives of the Chinese Communist Party!
The group also toured Pearl Harbor, World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, and the Arizona Monument. Other tours included the Hawaii State Capitol building.
During our meetings we discussed several topics, one of the most prominent being grid security for military bases. Several options were discussed from differing vendors with an emphasis on renewable sources. Of course, how this might work in Missouri is up for discussion because such sources as solar energy is not a reliable backup option in our area.
All in all it proved to be a productive conference, but a very long trip (Hawaii is the most remote island chain in the world, but very important to our forward presence in the Pacific)!
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.