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Is this a good thing? The use of electronic cigarettes is ballooning among middle and high school students. These are nicotine-delivery devices, just as tobacco cigarettes are, and while they lack the tar and other carcinogens found in cigarettes, nicotine is a fiercely addictive substance.

An e-cigarette may be a step forward to a smoker trying to make better decisions, but not for school kids who are taking a giant step toward what could easily be a lifelong addiction, and an eventual move to cigarettes with their increased risk of severe health impairments.

Spring is traditionally the season of renewal and rebirth. In Buffalo we’re enjoying our other season of renewal – the renewal of hope in the Buffalo Bills. The hapless Bills have missed the playoffs for 13 straight years. But this year there is a new coach, a new quarterback, a new general manager and new plays. And renewed hope.

The season starts Sunday, against the longtime nemesis New England Patriots. Hope springs eternal, but fans who have been calculating the driving time to Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey should probably do their dreaming tonight, before the bubble bursts.

It was a relief to read that the conductor of Norway’s Oslo Philharmonic believes that orchestras react better to male conductors than female. It means that it isn’t just Americans who can be nutty about gender roles.

According to Vasily Petrenko, a Russian and the philharmonic’s chief conductor, men “have less sexual energy” – whatever that means – than women. Therefore, they can focus more on the music, while women on the podium, poor things, can be distracting.

Petrenko needs to meet the Buffalo Philharmonic’s JoAnn Falletta, one of this country’s great conductors of either sex.

Here’s a brilliant idea, one that boasts about Western New York’s history while taking advantage of the “lighter, quicker, cheaper” approach to developing Buffalo’s fast-growing Canalside district: Purchase a historic carousel and operate it next to a planned children’s museum at the former Memorial Auditorium site.

It would be a hit. If New York City can operate a carousel in Central Park, we should be able to manage it here. Let’s do this.