Why tobacco makers aren't smokersI am pleased the General...

the Forum

March 09, 1992

Why tobacco makers aren't smokers

I am pleased the General Assembly is considering legislation to raise the tax on cigarettes. As a woman, I am especially glad because it is females who are suffering and dying from increased lung cancer rates, whereas the rates for men are falling -- as is their consumption of cigarettes.

Do smokers ever wonder why the people pushing tobacco -- and I say pushing because it is an addictive drug -- do not smoke themselves? The tobacco industry may be the only industry in existence where the leaders of the companies do not use the product they create. For example, the following is a quote from the Jan. 6th New Yorker: "Lee Iacocca drives a Chrysler, the chairman of Pepsi drinks Pepsi, the chairman of Nike wears Nikes, but Michael Miles of Phillip Morris and Larry Tish of Loews -- those are major tobacco companies -- don't use the products they're pushing. They don't smoke any brand. They don't smoke at all. That's very unusual."

It is also interesting to note that Walker Merryman, the chief spokesman for the Tobacco Institute, and Bruce Bereano, the chief lobbyist for the tobacco industry here in Maryland, do not smoke. Perhaps the reason these folks do not smoke comes from a very revealing statement made by David Gurlitz when he appeared on the "Today" show on Dec. 11. Mr. Gurlitz, who was the chief model for Winston cigarette ads until he had a stroke, said he once asked a Winston executive why none of them seemed to smoke. The executive's answer, as related by Mr. Gurlitz was: "We don't smoke the crap, we just market it. We reserve the right to smoke it for the young, the poor, the black and the stupid."

This statement was made to the immense "Today" show audience. I urge every smoker, especially the women, to think about this statement before they buy their next pack of cigarettes.

D. Kay Roy

Laurel

JFK conspiracy

If the CIA or the Mob was bent on killing John Kennedy, why would either have preferred for Lee Oswald a cheap, Italian military, bolt-action rifle designed more than 20 years before, when there were weapons in 1963 such as the commercially developed, American-made, automatic, AR-15 used by the Secret Service itself or the M16, used by the U.S. Army in Vietnam? And why not have a Maxim silencer that plausibly could have been obtained illegally by Oswald?

If he, too, was to be murdered, should it not likely have occurred shortly after the assassination; why murder him after his apprehension?

R. D. Reese

Baltimore

Taxing questions

George Bush keeps talking about creating jobs with a capital gains tax cut.

Curiously, he doesn't explain how this works. Furthermore, we seldom hear anyone challenge this notion.

The common sense fact is that a capital gains cut does not create anything but higher profits for nonproductive individuals or businesses. It simply lowers taxes for one type of enterprise to the detriment of others.

A capital gains cut benefits stock market speculators or traders in artwork, gold coins and real estate, taxing them at half the rate of businesses that manufacture things, sell goods or perform services. These last-mentioned are enterprises that employ workers (who also pay taxes at the full rate). A capital gains tax cut would encourage capital to leave the productive market to enter the nonproductive sector to take advantage of lower taxes and higher profits.

Mr. Bush, please explain to me how taxing building contractors and developers twice more than real estate speculators can create jobs.

Tell me why savings accounts and stock dividends should be taxed at twice the rate of speculative trading of stocks and bonds for profit. Does gambling on the stock market do anything but give stockbrokers higher commissions?

Why should the tax on profits from selling gold coins be half of the interest on my CDs? Why should the seller of an antique car pay a lower tax rate than the man who repairs cars or who builds cars?

If Mr. Bush can explain why the seller of a Picasso painting should pay 14 percent in taxes while the man who paints my house is taxed at 28 percent, I might give him my vote.

But first he had better explain how a capital gains cut creates jobs or helps productive businesses.

John Howells

Baltimore

Dunce caps

Last Wednesday, I watched hate crimes, racism and prejudice on the show "48 Hours." I have often wondered about the mentality of the members of the KKK. Now, I know. All their hooded people wear tall dunce caps. How appropriate!

Doris J. O'Rourke

Baltimore

Saving the creeks

On Feb. 26, I attended the Back River Neck Peninsula Community Association, Inc. meeting on restoring Middle River's water quality.

They had a consultant do a study saying the largest problem was water clarity and pollution. Without clearer water the grasses cannot survive and without grasses the fish and critters cannot survive. They concluded that the problem was due to erosion, pollution from failing septic systems and air pollution (acid rain).

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