Region briefs

July 2, 2014 

Law blocks sale of e-cigarettes to minors

ATLANTA -- Georgia Department of Public Health officials say a new state law makes it illegal to sell or distribute electronic cigarettes to anyone under 18.

Officials said Tuesday emissions from electronic cigarettes could include several chemicals including formaldehyde.

Director of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention for the Department of Public Health Jean O'Connor said the products are especially dangerous for children.

Public health officials said 1,169 calls were made to the Georgia Poison Center between April 2009 and April 2014 for exposure or poisoning linked to tobacco or nicotine products.

Officials said GPC received 45 calls about issues with e-cigarettes between Jan. 1 and June 1, compared with five calls in all of 2011.

-- Associated Press

Wildlife officials will review manatee status change

MIAMI -- Federal wildlife officials are moving forward with a status review of the manatee following a petition from a libertarian legal group representing some north Florida business owners.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Tuesday that it will begin a more detailed status review and analysis. It's a step in changing the status of the West Indian manatee -- including its subspecies, the Florida manatee and Antillean manatee -- from endangered to threatened.

In 2012, the Pacific Legal Foundation, on behalf of Save Crystal River Inc., submitted a petition requesting the reclassification.

Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, says his group welcomes the review, if for no other reason than to show that manatees are appropriately listed as an endangered species.

-- Associated Press

Censorship group wants book back on reading list

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. -- A national organization against censorship is asking the Pasco County school district to place "Paper Towns" by John Green back on the eighth grade summer reading list at Long Middle School.

The book was removed in June after a parent complained to a school board member about the book's language and sexual content.

The National Coalition Against Censorship emailed Superintendent Kurt Browning and school board members Monday, asking them to restore the book.

Long Middle School removed the book from its list, but it remains on the shelves of libraries at several high schools.

The coalition argued the removal violates the school board's policy that says complaints about books should be in writing and then be evaluated by a review committee.

-- Tampa Tribune

Black bear returns 3 times to Panhandle spot

SHALIMAR, Fla. -- Officials are hoping the third time is a charm for a 350-pound black bear found sleeping in a Florida Panhandle tree.

The bear has been caught and tagged and removed from the area twice since April. But he keeps finding his way back to the Panama City area.

On Monday, he was spotted in a pine tree outside the Shalimar Yacht Basin.

He was first spotted April 14 near a Panama City elementary school. Wildlife officials moved him 90 miles away to Mud Swamp in Apalachicola National Forest. It took him three weeks but he made it back to the neighborhood.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission worked with Eglin Air Force Base to remove him but he returned Monday.

-- Northwest Florida Daily News

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