When crack cocaine was identified as the new illegal drug in central Pennsylvania about 25 years ago, warnings were issued about it being "instantly addictive."
Accompanying that warning was concern from law enforcement officials over how significantly that most-addictive form of cocaine would negatively impact crime statistics.
But as bad as crack portended to be, a new illegal substance that already has been identified as having arrived in Pennsylvania, possibly even here, is cause for even more concern than what was being expressed 2 decades ago.
That's why Pennsylvania should quickly become the fourth state - joining Florida, Louisiana and Virginia - to ban it.
According to an article in last week's Mirror, deaths attributed to the drug - known on the streets as "Smiles" or "N-Bomb" - have been recorded in Arizona, Louisiana, North Dakota and Virginia.
Hopefully, the next one won't be here.
The Blair County Drug and Alcohol Program, Inc., which doesn't send out warnings often, has issued a "hot sheet" flier to about 200 people, such as medical personnel, police and various agencies, to alert them about this new scourge that the drug and alcohol program pointed out was being seen "especially among our youth."
The drug reportedly has been distributed at parties and festivals.
While crack cocaine must continue to evoke deep concern because of the lives that it is damaging and destroying, it's important that the new illegal substance be attacked with greater urgency.
According to the drug program flier, overdosing on the drug, a common occurrence, can lead to "seizures, bleeding of the brain and death."
Side effects that have been witnessed not necessarily within the realm of an overdose are out-of-control thinking, paranoia, panic, unwanted and overwhelming feelings and violence.
Some would argue that crack, the freebase form of cocaine, which causes euphoria, intense confidence, alertness and increased energy, is less of a threat.
However, large amounts of crack, while intensifying the user's high, can also lead to erratic, bizarre and violent behavior and, in some instances, can cause death on the first use or unexpectedly thereafter.
Use of either of the substances then is a potentially deadly experience.
Blair County Assistant District Attorney Peter Weeks has said the new drug, whose official name is Phenethylamine Psychedelic or 251-NBOMe, appears to be the result of an attempt to modify bath salts so the substance won't be controlled or considered illegal.
But any delay by the state Legislature in designating the new substance off-limits is not acceptable.
Crack cocaine's adverse effect on efforts to reduce crime is by now well known. However, "N-Bomb" has the potential to dwarf crack's costly, deadly impact.
The fight against it must be mobilized quickly and be conducted relentlessly.