Dual benefits of high tobacco taxes
I was pleased to read your March 7 editorial, "Tax benefits." You read our minds correctly!
Speaking as a co-sponsor of the bill [to increase the state tax on cigarettes], it was fully my intention to find additional funds to help balance the budget, while doing something to discourage smokers. George Will, in a recent column titled "Smoldering death," painted a graphic picture as he noted that, "in 1988 alone, 434,000 deaths, nearly eight Vietnams - were the result of tobacco."
I also sponsored legislation to make cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco subject to an excise tax of 30 percent of the wholesale price. To exempt these tobacco products is patently unfair and encourages their use. As we know today, smokeless tobacco causes cancer of the oral tissues, the larynx and the esophagus. In addition, it causes coronary artery disease and peptic ulcers. It is interesting to note that as a result of targeted advertising, sales of moist snuff (Skoal and Copenhagen) have risen 70 percent in 10 years, as cigarette sales have fallen. Use is greatest among teen-age boys and young men.
Jennie M. Forehand
The writer is a member of the House of Delegates representing Montgomery County.
Stop the sprawl
As one of the "preservation busybodies" J. Douglas Parran referred to in his Feb. 21 letter regarding the Baltimore County Planning Board's decision to uphold protection of the scenic view in Kingsville, I note that the Baltimore County master plan calls for protection of the special features of rural areas which the citizens hold dear.
It was important for us to illustrate just how dearly this view is held by the community. We went to the planning board meetings. We wrote letters in record numbers. We showed we cared. "Preservation busybodies" saved Mt. Vernon, Fells Point, Annapolis and Cape May. In a democracy, citizen involvement had better mean something!
Developers have rights, according to the concept of "reasonable use" of the land. But so does the future. Without constraints on insensitive development, we will simply accelerate suburban sprawl, 20th-century America's contribution to the permanent landscape.
Douglas M. Behr
Recently, White House officials claimed that Iraq's failure to hold Kuwait was an object lesson to Israel. Marlin Fitzwater said, "The war has produced some recognition of the fact that geography alone cannot guarantee security." The analogy is invalid, however, because Iraq did not occupy Kuwait for reasons of security but rather to plunder its wealth.
Taking Fitzwater's statement a step further, one could ask, "Would Arab occupation of the West Bank guarantee the Palestinians' security?" Since Palestinians cannot criticize the PLO without fear of retribution, and since the Arabs have a history of internecine warfare, it is doubtful. Arab society must adopt democratic values, improve the position of women and stamp out illiteracy before the Palestinians can achieve real security.
One could also question the Arab claim to the West Bank, even apart from the threat to Israel's security. The Palestinians are not the original inhabitants of the area, because the Arabs did not invade Israel until the 7th century. Many Jews resided on the West Bank before Jordan occupied it in 1948, and Jerusalem has had a Jewish majority for the last 150 years.
Jeffrey P. Jarosz
What a remarkable achievement by our hundred-hour warriors in the Persian Gulf! It was ample refutation of the skepticism voiced by many critics that our volunteer military consisted of eight-balls, ghetto refugees and untrainables.
Perhaps there is a glimmer of an idea here that could contribute to solving the education plight in our country. Turn the Department of Education over to the military. It might achieve no-nonsense discipline in classrooms and focus on meeting learning goals and perfomance ratings for educators entrusted with teaching our youth.
Now that the United Nations resolution regarding the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait has been brought to a conclusion, the U.S. should take another look at Resolution 465 of March 1, 1980, which condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as illegal.
Resolution 478 of Aug. 20, 1980, declared null and void Israel's annexation of Jerusalem, while Resolution 497 of Dec. 17 condemned Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights. Resolution 509 of June 6, 1982, condemned the presence of Israeli troops in Lebanon.
These resolutions also should be brought to a conclusion that will result in a fair and lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict that just keeps compounding itself by Israel's insistence on resettling Soviet Jews in occupied territories. Until these resolutions are resolved, there will never be peace in the Middle East.