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09 Jul 21:02

Expensive Cigarettes No Longer Keep Teenagers From Smoking

by Andrew Flowers

Fewer American teens smoke cigarettes today than 20 years ago. And taxes on cigarettes are much higher, too. For a while, these two trends were related, because teens wouldn’t pay the high price of a pack, but not anymore. Young people are no longer responding to higher cigarette taxes by smoking less.

Some perspective is important: More than one in three teenagers smoked in 1997, but fewer than one in four did in 2013. And within the past decade, 31 states have jacked up their tax on cigarettes, especially after the Great Recession strained many governments’ budgets. Although reducing teen smoking often wasn’t the main justification for raising cigarette taxes, old research using data up to 2005 had shown that a $1-per-pack tax increase could reduce teen smoking by nearly 10 percent.

But new research, using updated data through 2013, suggests that the association between the price of cigarettes and youth smoking rates has become weaker in recent years. According to a new working paper, not yet peer-reviewed, a $1 increase in cigarette taxes from 2007 to 2013 was linked to a very slight increase in teen smoking (albeit one statistically indistinguishable from zero). The working paper was written by three economists, Benjamin Hansen, Joseph Sabia and Daniel Rees, and was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

There are several possible reasons why taxes no longer affect teen smokers. Nowadays, “the only remaining smokers are the die-hards,” said Kitt Carpenter, an economist at Vanderbilt University. Smoking among young people has fallen so far that the remaining core isn’t affected by price.

Another possibility, raised by Hansen and his collaborators, is that teens are more adept at using the Internet to evade cigarette taxes. Other research has shown that online searches for “cheap cigarettes” spike when new taxes are implemented. High schoolers, either through social connections or online vendors, might be better at getting those less-expensive smokes, thereby nullifying the tax hike.

In 2008, with co-author Philip Cook, Carpenter published work showing that cigarette taxes discourage teen smoking. It was the strongest study to date, but it used data through only 2005. Although the new research replicates Carpenter and Cook’s estimates through 2005, the relationship breaks down in the subsequent period through 2013. Carpenter supports these new estimates: “I think it’s interesting, and the analysis seems right,” he said.

Both studies used data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS), a massive biennial effort that surveys thousands of high schoolers. Directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state education departments, the surveys reached more than 150,000 high school students in 48 states from 1991 to 2013 and asked them about risky behavior such as smoking.

The 2007 to 2013 period is also interesting because, during the recession and slow recovery that followed, it became, in Hansen’s words, “smoking-tax-hike season” for many state governments. For instance, Massachusetts raised its tax by $1 in 2008, and Minnesota’s went up by $1.60 in 2013.

The trend isn’t uniform; states have different smoking and tax patterns. The states raising cigarette taxes are probably the ones with the greatest anti-smoking sentiment; politicians, after all, are probably raising cigarette taxes in accord with public opinion. But this sentiment is hard to observe directly, and so Hansen and his co-authors did extra work to analyze trends by controlling for state-level variables. When they did so, higher cigarette prices had no effect on teen smoking.

The YRBS data sets underpinning these studies are not perfect. They can’t survey youths who aren’t in school, and those who have dropped out might smoke more. Some researchers worry that high school students won’t answer about their smoking honestly in a school-administered survey. Both sets of researchers controlled for student demographic variables released by YRBS, such as race, sex, age and grade. Some variables — such as income — are not collected by the CDC or the states. Carpenter admitted that the information on the students is limited — “they are really, really poor measures,” he said. But it’s still the best data available to study this question.

It’s not clear what the policy response should be if this represents a new normal of youth smoking behavior. Hansen would like to see more research into the effectiveness of other anti-smoking interventions: high school health classes, for instance, or informational campaigns.

One option is to do what Hawaii recently did: raise the minimum smoking age. It’s 18 in most states, but Hawaii changed it to 21. Unfortunately, the YRBS doesn’t collect date of birth (only age). Hansen speculates that raising the minimum purchase age by just one year, from 18 years old to 19 years old, could have an impact on teen smoking. There are many high school seniors who are 18, but not many who are 19. Now that a previously effective weapon against teen smoking appears to be blunted, states will have to look elsewhere.

29 May 03:45

Whoever Bought This $90K Richard Prince Instagram Print Is About To Be Pissed

by KC Ifeanyi

He took her image. She undercut him by 99.9 percent. Ladies and gentlemen, the genius that is Missy Suicide.

Painter and photographer Richard Prince is known (and notorious) for appropriating images from celebrities or even fellow photographers, tweaking the photos ever so slightly, and then slapping a knee-buckling price tag on it.

Read Full Story

23 Jan 01:09

Apple Watch Battery Supposedly Lasts Only A Couple Of Hours Under Heavy Use

by Adriana Lee

Woe be to anyone actually planning to use an Apple Watch. 

According to sources cited by Apple blog 9to5Mac, the still-unreleased iOS smartwatch’s battery life lasts only for a couple hours of heavy use. 

See also: What You Can Do With The Apple Watch

Standby time looks better; it can hang on for up to 2 or 3 days. But that presumes you don’t actually use anything that makes the gadget “smart.” 

A Dismal Power Play

Apple never willingly discloses the battery capacity of its mobile devices. Typically, those specifications and more come to light after an Apple product launches and gets autopsied—er, a proper teardown—by the tech community. 

So it's no surprise that the company didn’t specify details about its upcoming smartwatch's power cell. At its press conference last year, the only thing the company would say was that it would require nightly charging. 

The latest report seems to dig in a bit more. Its unnamed sources, whose relationship to Apple (if any) was not disclosed, said the company tested the device in various scenarios. Through steady standard app use, the device lasted up to 3.5 hours. Intensive gameplay hammered the battery more, yielding 2.5 hours of life. Ultimately, the device’s energy-swilling processor and beautiful, but power-hungry display are some of the key reasons for the drain. 

Apple supposedly thinks fitness-tracking features could somehow yield better battery life. As illogical as that sounds, the company supposedly targets almost 4 straight hours of exercise tracking. 

A Gadget That Dies Before Lunch?

Battery life for wearables is a fundamental problem. The 5-to-7 day battery life of Pebble—with its e-paper, non-touchscreen—sits on one end of the spectrum, while rivals like Android Wear’s growing army of wrist devices sat on the other, thanks to limited life typically in the 1-to-2 day range. But if there's any truth to this report about the Apple Watch and its scant few hours of functionality under actual use, that could represent a new low for smartwatches. 

Fast-charging could help ease the situation. The site also reports that Apple could be in the throes of refining its MagSafe charging connection to allow for speedier juice-ups. 

Although tech circles seem to be hot on wrist gadgets, the public at large hasn't quite made them a mainstream trend yet. Previously, the Apple Watch looked like it could've gone a long way toward sparking consumer demand. Now, it's unclear if customers, particularly those used to seemingly endless battery life from traditional watches, will embrace a wearable that could die before lunchtime. 

The Apple Watch is expected to launch some time around the end of March. 

Photo courtesy of Apple

03 Jun 19:13

Massimo Vignelli, Visionary Designer Who Untangled the Subway, Dies at 83

by Mr_Andersen
12 Feb 19:57

15 Most Incredible Slot Canyons on Earth

by Iceaxe
I always get a good laugh out of these types of stories....

Enjoy. :popcorn:
13 Jan 20:00

He's a Man of Few Words

22 Nov 17:24

Event: Crowdfunding: Trends in the Sharing Economy

by Burning Man

Please join us for this special discussion on December 12 at Burning Man Headquarters!

Crowdfunding: Trends in the Sharing Economy

The crowd at Distrikt, 2013 (photo by Jared Mechaber)

The crowd at Distrikt, 2013 (photo by Jared Mechaber)

The sharing economy is taking off – whether it’s peer-to-peer rentals, skill sharing, crowdfunding, ridesharing or unused parking spots. Spawned by a confluence of the economic crisis, environmental concerns, and the social web coming of age, the sharing economy is quickly becoming the hottest trend in economic paradigms.

We in the Burning Man community are particularly interested in the dynamics and the future of the sharing economy, since it reflects our principles of gifting, communal effort, civic responsibility and decommodification.

Please join us for a panel discussion focused specifically on the future of crowdfunding, one of the fastest-developing areas in the sharing economy. We will explore the role it plays in creative community development, and how it’s being applied to entrepreneurial endeavors in the form of spaces (local real estate) and support for small businesses (micro loans).

When: December 12, 7-9pm
Where: Burning Man HQ
Address: 660 Alabama Street, San Francisco

Daniel Miller, Fundrise
Harry Pottash, Kiva
Kate Drane, Indiegogo

Will Chase, Burning Man Project

Please RSVP to attend.

This program is part of an ongoing series of events produced as part of the non-profit Burning Man Project’s Educational Program, supporting its cultural, philosophical and educational initiatives around the world. For information about past or upcoming events, or to propose one, click here.