Today’s Sound Off is the very serious topic of vaping:

Dear Heloise: According to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, e-cigarette (or vape pen) usage among teens increased nearly 900 percent from 2011 to 2015. It’s called vaping, and it’s far more dangerous than you might have expected.

Smoking these electronic cigarettes affects the heart and lungs, as dangerous chemicals are inhaled. It can, and often does, cause serious permanent physical damage or, in some cases, death. It raises blood pressure and causes scarring of delicate airways. Nicotine is still present in high concentrations in an e-cigarette, which means they can be as addictive as smoking regular cigarettes.

If you haven’t had a serious talk with your children about vaping, now is a good time to start. Not only is it foolish and dangerous to smoke e-cigarettes, it’s also unhealthy to inhale secondhand smoke from one of these devices. Remind them that it’s not cool and it could be deadly. No matter what their friends say, vaping is dangerous. It can ruin your health for the rest of your life.

— Lynda W., Milwaukee

Dear Readers: Here are new uses for old sweaters:

● Use the sleeves to make “sweater socks” for around the house.

● Slip a small pillow into the body of a sweater, fold or glue the arms underneath, and you’ll have a cozy pet bed.

● Make small animal toys for tots.

● Donate to a worthwhile charity.

Dear Heloise: Since we are all being encouraged to wear a mask, I always carry a couple extra ones in a plastic bag in my purse. I usually don't forget to wear one, but there are many people who are not used to wearing them, and I can offer one to someone who forgot to mask up before they left home or who left their mask in the car.

— Agnes M., Royal Oak, Mich.

Dear Heloise: I make use of those brightly decorated popcorn tins by setting house plants in them when they're empty and using one in the bathroom as a wastebasket. After the holidays I use them to store figurines and odd shaped ornaments.

— L.D.W., Waco, Tex.

L.D.W.: That’s a wonderful use of popcorn tins! Here are a few other suggestions from other readers: Use as a storage tin for large bags of dry dog or cat food. Paint the outside and use as a colorful planter for the patio. Store Christmas dinnerware in a couple of them. Store baby blankets or christening gowns that can be handed down one day to your grandchildren. One woman said she used one as a time capsule, which will be opened 25 years after her daughter’s birth. They are also great for storing small toys or game pieces.

Dear Readers: As the temperatures drop, please keep in mind that the bitter cold of winter is very hard on short-haired pets. They belong in the house, where they can be kept safe and warm.

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000, or email it to

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