Tobacco Rule, Khashoggi Sentence

Grind for December 31st
“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.”
– Andy Rooney

Mission Complete

The Headline

Signed into Law: Americans must be 21 or older to purchase tobacco

The Grind

The major spending package I wrote about last week was signed into law this Friday, with President Trump celebrating the new minimum age to purchase tobacco:

“I will be signing our 738 Billion Dollar Defense Spending Bill today,” tweeted Trump. “It will include 12 weeks Paid Parental Leave, gives our troops a raise, importantly creates the SPACE FORCE, SOUTHERN BORDER WALL FUNDING, repeals “Cadillac Tax” on Health Plans, raises smoking age to 21! BIG!”

The new rule, which takes effect next summer, is largely a response to the widespread use of e-cigarettes among teens and “vape lung,” a sometimes-fatal respiratory condition linked to vaping and THC.

According to the HHS, nearly 28% of high school students in the US have used e-cigarettes within the past month.

The Details

As of this month, 19 states and more than 500 cities had already raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.

The age increase “is the most significant step that can be taken to reduce youth access and use,” said The Vapor Technology Association.

For years, lawmakers like Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Brian Schultz (D-HI) have been looking for a way to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products. They did so by attaching the prohibition to a must-pass spending package that keeps the government up and running through September 2020.

Lawmakers and advocates also pushed for a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes, but were unsuccessful in convincing President Trump to support that action.

“Raising the tobacco age to 21 is a positive step, but it is not a substitute for prohibiting the flavored e-cigarettes that are luring and addicting our kids,” argues Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“To reverse the e-cigarette epidemic, policymakers must prohibit flavored e-cigarettes and cannot be limited by what the tobacco industry says is acceptable…The evidence is clear that flavored e-cigarettes are driving the youth epidemic.”

What Did You Expect?!

The Headline

Saudi Arabia imposes sentence on Khashoggi’s killers after sham trial

The Grind

This week, a court in Saudi Arabia sentenced five suspects to death and jailed three others for the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi authorities maintain the story that his death was the result of a “rogue operation” not connected to the Saudi government.

This trial is “the antithesis of justice,” said UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard. “Bottom line: the hit-men are guilty, sentenced to death. The masterminds not only walk free, they have barely been touched by the investigation and the trial.”

The Turkish government also criticized the trial, accusing the court of “falling short of the expectations of Turkey and the international community for the clarification of all aspects of this murder and the serving of justice.”

The Background

Saudi Arabian journalist and dissident Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2nd, 2018.

SA attempted to pin the murder on Turkey before CIA investigators uncovered evidence the murder was ordered by the Saudi government. Their findings implicated Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

The incident was inconvenient for President Trump, who sought to maintain his relationship with SA throughout the investigation.

Prince Salman claimed he did not order the assassination, but in October said he took “full responsibility” for the crime as leader of the kingdom.

President Trump says he believes Prince Salman’s claim that he was not involved in the assassination.

Did you know… Up to the age of six or seven months a child can breathe and swallow at the same time. An adult cannot do this