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F.D.A. Authorizes E-Cigarettes to Stay on U.S. Market for the First Time

The Food and Drug Administration for the first time on Tuesday authorized an electronic cigarette to be sold in the United States, a significant turn in one of the most contentious public health debates in decades.

In greenlighting a device and tobacco-flavored cartridges marketed by R.J. Reynolds under the brand name Vuse, the agency signaled that it believed that the help certain vaping devices offer smokers to quit traditional cigarettes is more significant than the risks of ensnaring a new generation.

“The authorized products’ aerosols are significantly less toxic than combusted cigarettes based on available data,” the F.D.A. said in a statement announcing the decision.

The statement concluded, “The F.D.A. determined that the potential benefit to smokers who switch completely or significantly reduce their cigarette use, would outweigh the risk to youth.”

The watershed decision could pave the way for authorization of some other electronic cigarettes, including those of the once-dominant maker Juul, to stay on the market. For more than a year, the manufacturers of e-cigarettes have been in a holding pattern — most of their products on the market but awaiting official authorization — as the F.D.A. has investigated whether they were a benefit or a danger to public health.

“The importance of the F.D.A. authorizing a vaping product as ‘appropriate for the protection of public health’ should not be understated,” said Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, an industry group. He added, “Now that the F.D.A. has acted, we are hopeful that adult consumers and health communicators will begin to understand the harm reduction benefits offered by these and other smoke-free products.”

Over the past few months, as part of its review, the agency has also ordered thousands of vaping products off the market, including a brand that has surpassed Juul as a favorite among teenagers for their fruity and candy flavors, Puff Bars. On Tuesday, it also rejected 10 other Vuse flavored products but declined to say which ones.

Condemnation of the decision to authorize some products was swift.

“This throws young people under the bus,” said Erika Sward, national assistant vice president for advocacy at the American Lung Association. She said the concern was both with the broader logic endorsing these products and with Vuse, which in the government’s most recent survey on youth tobacco use was found to be one of the most popular vaping brands with young people.

Vuse’s owner, R.J. Reynolds, is one of the world’s largest cigarette companies. Another major cigarette company, Altria, owns a 35 percent stake in Juul.

Ms. Sward said that an industry that lied about hooking generations on a deadly product that killed millions was now positioned to control the next iteration of the nicotine market. “The industry has been waiting for their next big thing and they found it with e-cigarettes,” she said.

Kaelan Hollon, a spokeswoman for Reynolds American, R.J.R.’s parent company, said that the decision “represents an important moment for Reynolds” and that it showed that the authorized products “are appropriate for the protection of the public health.”

E-cigarettes first came on the American market in the early 2000s as devices designed to give smokers the nicotine fix they craved without the carcinogens that come from burning cigarettes. But about six years ago, with the introduction of Juul’s sleek products with fruity and dessert flavors, use of e-cigarettes among teenagers began to soar and public health officials worried that a generation of nonsmokers was becoming hooked on nicotine.

Allowing some vaping devices to stay on the market as an alternative to smoking, some public health experts believe, might make it easier for the government to impose more stringent regulation on traditional cigarettes, whose carcinogenic fumes can cause cancer and play a role in more than 400,000 deaths in the United States each year.

After resolving the vaping issue, the F.D.A.’s tobacco division will push forward on a plan to reduce the amount of nicotine in combustible cigarettes. In its tobacco control strategy, announced in July 2017, the F.D.A. said it would try to force tobacco companies to lower the nicotine in their products to nonaddictive levels. The cigarette industry opposes the move.

The F.D.A. is also still working on its plan to eliminate menthol cigarettes from the market, a prospect the tobacco industry is vigorously lobbying against.

Clifford Douglas, director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network, said that the authorization of Vuse was “good initial news in terms of the agency making clear its focus on providing well-assessed harm reduction alternatives for adults.”

“This decision makes clear the F.D.A.’s scientific understanding that e-cigarettes are intrinsically significantly less hazardous than combustible tobacco products,” Mr. Douglas said. “And it makes equally clear that these products can be good for the protection of public health, and therefore potentially help millions of addicted adult smokers quit smoking.”

The specific products granted authorization by the F.D.A. are the Vuse Solo Power Unit, and two tobacco-flavored replacement cartridges, each with around 5 percent nicotine.

In its announcement, the F.D.A. said that it was aware of the heavy use of Vuse products by youth but that it was approving “tobacco flavors,” which are less appealing to teenagers. The agency also said that it was imposing digital, radio and television marketing restrictions, while critics argued that the F.D.A. appeared to leave plenty of room for other marketing that could affect youth.

“They are just inadequate,” said Eric Lindblom, a former F.D.A. tobacco policy official and a senior scholar at Georgetown Law’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.

He took issue with the restrictions on television advertising, which allow only commercials on shows with a low percentage of teenage users. Mr. Lindblom said that teenagers could still see the Vuse ads, either on television or if they are copied and put on YouTube, as happened with Juul.

“They are allowing marketing through partners, celebrities and brand ambassadors. This is a real problem,” Mr. Lindblom said.

Among the key issues that the F.D.A. did not resolve Tuesday was what it plans to do about menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, which critics say appeal to youth and e-cigarette advocates say will help lure current smokers to quit. The agency said it was “still evaluating” the Vuse application for menthol.

Reynolds, in its own statement, said that it could “still lawfully sell” the products that remain under review.

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Robert Durst, Millionaire Convicted of Murder, on Ventilator With Covid

Robert A. Durst, a former real estate mogul, is on a ventilator in a Los Angeles hospital after testing positive for Covid-19, days after being sentenced to life in prison for the 2000 murder of his confidante.

“We were notified that he tested positive for Covid,” his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, said on Saturday.

Mr. Durst, 78, was admitted Friday night to LAC+USC Medical Center, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s inmate locator. The district attorney’s office said it could not comment because of medical privacy laws.

At a sentencing hearing on Thursday, Mr. Durst sat slumped in a wheelchair. He wore a brown prison jumper and a mask. At times, his breathing appeared labored. He pulled down his mask, only to raise it again moments later.

“His health deteriorated over the weeks of the trial,” Mr. DeGuerin said. “On Thursday, he looked like death warmed over.”

Mr. Durst was frail and had numerous health problems but was alert during the four-month trial that ended on Sept. 17 with a first-degree murder conviction. Mr. Durst, whose life story inspired a Hollywood movie and an HBO documentary, will not be eligible for parole.

The jury that convicted him in Los Angeles found that the prosecution had proven special circumstances – namely, that Mr. Durst shot Susan Berman, a journalist and screenwriter, because he feared she was about to tell investigators what she had learned as his spokewoman to the news media after the 1982 disappearance of his first wife, Kathie McCormack Durst.

Mr. Durst faces a possible murder indictment in New York in connection with the disappearance of Kathie Durst. Miriam E. Rocah, the district attorney of Westchester County, N.Y., reopened the investigation earlier this year and planned to put numerous witnesses in front of a grand jury.

Mr. Durst acknowledged to filmmakers that before Ms. Durst disappeared, his marriage included “half arguments, fighting, slapping, pushing” and “wrestling” But he insisted, he did not kill her.

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Homes That Sold for Around $1 Million

Each week, our survey of recent residential sales in New York City and the surrounding region focuses on homes that sold around a certain price point, allowing you to compare single-family homes, condos and co-ops in different locales.

The “list price” is the asking price when the property came on the market with the most recent broker. The time on the market is measured from the most recent listing to the closing date of the sale.

New Jersey | 4 bedrooms, 3½ baths

A 34-year-old, 3,608-square-foot, contemporary-style house, with a living room that has a vaulted ceiling and stone gas fireplace, and a kitchen with a breakfast bar and sliding doors to a deck on 1.35 acres.

18 weeks on the market

$975,000 list price

4% below list price

Costs $16,073 a year in taxes

Listing broker Coldwell Banker

Orange County | 4 bedrooms; 3 full and 2 half baths

This 21-year-old, 5,978-square-foot house has a kitchen with stainless-steel appliances, a formal dining room with a coffered ceiling, and a primary suite with a two-sided fireplace on about two-and-a-half acres.

14 weeks on the market

$965,000 list price

3% above list price

Costs $28,403 a year in taxes

Listing broker Howard Hanna/Rand Realty

Connecticut | 4 bedrooms, 3 baths

This 59-year-old, 1,894-square-foot, split-level-style house has a living room with a skylight and a fireplace, a kitchen with a skylight and granite counters, and a partially-finished basement on more than an acre.

15 weeks on the market

$875,000 list price

5% above list price

Costs $10,856 a year in taxes

Listing broker Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties

Queens | 3 bedrooms, 3 baths

An 81-year-old, 1,330-square-foot, attached single-family house, with a living room that has hardwood floors, an eat-in kitchen, a finished basement and a parking space, on 0.04 acres.

16 weeks on the market

$888,888 list price

4% above list price

Costs $7,142 a year in taxes

Listing broker Douglas Elliman

Manhattan | 1 bedroom, 1 bath

A 650-square-foot prewar co-op, with hardwood floors, beamed ceilings, a kitchen with a breakfast bar and stainless-steel appliances, and four closets in a doorman building with an indoor pool.

29 weeks on the market

$1,075,000 list price

6% below list price

Costs $2,437 a month in maintenance

Listing broker Warburg Realty

Long Island | 3 bedrooms, 2 baths

This 64-year-old, 1,634-square-foot, vinyl-sided house has a combined living and dining room with a vaulted ceiling, a kitchen with a breakfast bar, a koi pond and a dock, on 0.17 acres.

11 weeks on the market

$879,000 list price

Less than 1% above list price

Costs $15,453 a year in taxes

Listing broker Douglas Elliman

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

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‘My Waitress Had Also Been Told That She Would Soon Be Laid Off’

Dear Diary:

In the mid-2000s, I worked for a company with offices on Park Avenue. I lived in Denver then and would fly to New York for meetings several times a year, staying at the company’s suites at the Waldorf Towers.

I often had breakfast at the hotel’s Coffee House, at 50th Street on the Lexington Avenue side. My usual order was tea and toast. The tea was served in a small pink teapot with a silver rim, a Waldorf signature.

The little teapots became a comforting morning staple on these trips. I was served by the same waitress over a period of years, and I often mentioned to her how I loved the teapots.

In October 2014, I read that the Waldorf had been sold. Then, while on my next trip to New York, I was notified that my company would be merging my division with one in Fort Worth and that I, along with 300 others, would be laid off. The trip would be my last.

The next morning I had my usual breakfast at the Coffee House. My waitress had also been told that she would soon be laid off. I said I would miss her and, of course, my little pink teapots.

It was my last morning at the hotel and I had already checked out. My travel bag was open on the floor next to the booth where I was sitting. I stepped away for a few minutes, returned, tipped the waitress and left for the last time. It was a sad morning.

When I got home to Denver and unpacked my bag, I found a little pink teapot wrapped in a hotel napkin along with a note. It said all of the old Waldorf china and silver was to be sold and that this was a souvenir from my many breakfasts there, compliments of a longtime friend.

— Mary F. Cook

Dear Diary:

I am on the F train
And two seats away is a man
Whose hair is too gray
For his sneakers.
He sits his iced coffee
On the space between us
Because it is too cold
To hold in his iPhone hands,
And I begin preparing
The furious words
I will say
If it tips over
And spills on me.
It never does,
But at least I was ready.

— Sarah Peele

Dear Diary:

Walking uptown on Fifth Avenue I heard Latin music blasting out of a little red car.

As the driver sped by, he had one hand on the wheel and the other was out the sunroof.

In time to the music, he was shaking a bright yellow maraca.

— Linda Schonfeld

Dear Diary:

For years, Mr. Kim and I have been racing to beat the clock: I try to get home from work before his dry-cleaning shop closes, and he tries to keep his delivery man around to help me bring my clothes home.

Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, and sometimes we just wait until Saturday.

Recently, I called him from the subway to say that I would be making a pickup. We had a few confused exchanges, I entered a tunnel, we were disconnected and the race to beat the clock began.

I missed the delivery man, but Mr. Kim and I were happy to see each other. We chatted while he twist-tied four bundles of shirts. Seeing that I was already carrying two bags, he came out front to his sewing machine in a panic and started to dig through a heap of pants and jackets.

From the middle of the pile, like a sorcerer, he pulled out two matching, navy-blue cuffs that had been cut off the pants legs they once belonged to.

He looped them into a figure eight, and then hung two bundles from each loop, 25 shirts on hangers that he then draped over my shoulder, front and back.

It was the easiest giant load of laundry, dirty or clean, that I have ever hauled happily down Broadway and the long hill to Riverside Drive.

— Paul Klenk

Dear Diary:

The downtown A train was quiet and nearly empty as I rode downtown after a meeting in Midtown. Across from me was a young man with an extremely large plastic container of peeled garlic cloves.

Every so often, he would unscrew the lid and let the garlic aroma fill the subway car. Then he would intently re-tighten it until it was time for the next infusion.

No one complained.

— Karen Faye Richardson

Illustrations by Agnes Lee

Read all recent entries and our submissions guidelines.

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