Vaccinate kids; pass Death with Dignity bill

With this month’s column, please allow me to revisit four topics from 2014 because so much has changed.

Early in the year, I commented on how CVS’s 7,600 U.S. stores would no longer sell tobacco products. Skeptics railed at the news, and the company’s stock dropped. But the bold move hasn’t hurt the pharmacy chain. To the contrary, third-quarter net revenue increased 8.9 percent on a year-to-date basis. In early December, the company had enough cash on hand to invest $1 million in tobacco cessation programs.

Yet top competitors Walgreen and Rite Aid don’t appear to be following suit. What’s the hold-up?

I’ve learned two things since criticizing anti-vaxxers in the springtime. First, this is one passionate group. The emails came fast and furious — emphasis on furious — but still with laudable decorum. Second, most anti-vaxxers are doing what they believe best serves their kids, and that’s commendable behavior for any parent.

But the movement remains dangerously misguided. A tear-jerking anecdote, a five-star Goodreads rating or a sexy-serious Jenny McCarthy on Oprah doesn’t represent science. Science happens when research and journal articles withstand rigorous scrutiny by peers in the academic and scientific community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds no association between vaccines and the risk of autism. However, solid scientific evidence proves skipping vaccinations hurts and kills people. Last year saw the most U.S.-confirmed measles cases since 1994, and Colorado is vulnerable. The Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition reported last week that one in four Colorado kids are under-immunized, and Colorado kindergartners have the lowest measles vaccination rate in the country.

Parents, when you exempt, which is too easy in Colorado, you put yours and others’ kids at risk of sickness or death. Get the scientific facts and be responsible.

My November column argued that Colorado should become the sixth state to legally allow physician-assisted suicide. Later that month, two local lawmakers introduced a bill that would have legalized it in Colorado. Kudos to Reps. Joann Ginal, of Fort Collins, and the Court of Denver for their courage and vision.

Their efforts were not wasted; even though last week, the bill failed in legislative committee. The opposition claimed the bill contained potential for coercion or abuse. Is this sincere or a placeholder for ideological intransigence? There’s only one way to find out. Modify the bill, reintroduce and watch our legislators with an eagle eye, for as long as we continue to treat pets with greater compassion than human beings, we must press for freedom to depart this world on our own terms.

On the subject of climate change, here’s what I won’t say: that our recent springtime weather serves as some kind of proof. That’s as statistically silly as New Englanders mocking global warming because its snowdrifts reached seven feet this week. More significant is the fact that 2014 was the hottest year on record. Most significant: that all 10 of the hottest recorded years have occurred since 1998.

Can we please depoliticize this? I realize certain conservatives hate President Barack Obama enough to oppose apple pie if he were to come out pro-pastry. But after Obama’s gone from office, mankind’s indisputable impact on our planet will remain. I hope we can get past partisan squabble and talk responsibly about the world we will leave for our kids.

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