Recently by Erica Westly:

After days of planning, I was finally sitting on the metal stool next to the sidewalk typist’s desk. Two typewriters covered the entire surface of the desk — one for English and one for Kannada, the local Indian language — sitting back to back. A thick white rag strategically placed beneath the typewriters enabled the typist to switch between them with a quick spin of his hands. He typed expertly but not particularly fast. A few inches in front of us, pedestrians of all ages, wearing a mix of traditional and Western clothes, urgently squeezed past each other while to our right, a steady stream of young men and women filtered in to use the two Xerox machines that supplemented the typist’s business. If I had been standing among them, I’m sure I would have found it crowded and stressful, but as I took in the scene from my stool,… More…

My name is Erica, and I was once addicted to menthol. Specifically, I was hooked on Halls mentholated cough drops. When I was in high school and college, it was not unusual for me to go through a bag of cough drops a day. I didn’t think of it as addiction at the time. In fact, I’d pretty much forgotten about my former habit until this past year, when I found out that the FDA is considering banning menthol in cigarettes. Some public health advocates have argued that menthol may be addictive on its own, or, at the very least, that it makes quitting smoking more difficult, and their evidence is pretty convincing.

Menthol may not be as habit-forming as nicotine or even caffeine, but it is a drug nonetheless — one that the FDA regulates when it’s used as an ingredient in cough drops, mouthwash, and other… More…