Failure to pass cigarette bill shamefulI am dismayed...

the Forum

April 22, 1993

Failure to pass cigarette bill shameful

I am dismayed, disheartened and disgusted by our General Assembly's failure to raise fines for selling cigarettes to minors. This bill would also have allowed localities to pass even stricter laws regarding sales of tobacco products to kids.

The impotence of our legislators in refusing to get this bill passed is a major victory for the tobacco lobby, which would have been forced to fight local legislative bodies all across the state.

As a physician-educator at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the director of the smoking cessation program at UMAB, I spend a great deal of time counseling patients about the dangers of tobacco. I also teach medical students, residents and other physicians about how to get their patients to quit smoking.

It is unconscionable that the elected officials in Maryland, the state with the highest reported cancer rate in the country, could not pass this legislation. Forty percent of all cancer is due to cigarettes. Tobacco kills almost 500,000 people each year, which is equal to three 747s crashing every day with all passengers killed.

As more adults stop smoking, the tobacco industry is turning its attention to the next generation of smokers. More children recognize Camel Joe than Mickey Mouse, yet our General Assembly could not pass a bill which would penalize people for selling tobacco to our children. It had no trouble passing such "important" legislation as allowing us to make left hand turns at a red light.

This must stop. At times such as this I am ashamed to live in Maryland. The legislators who allowed this bill to die should be ashamed as well.

Kevin Schott Ferentz, M.D.

Baltimore

No tinkerers

"Didn't want to tinker with the death penalty." With these words uttered from our state legislature, once again you wonder why crime runs rampant in Baltimore and surrounding areas.

The legislators decided not to extend the death penalty to those persons who murder during drug-related incidents. How does the government expect to control violence if it doesn't enforce the death penalty?

On one recent night, there were 14 people shot in downtown Baltimore. How do the police control the bloodshed when they have no help from Annapolis? It keeps getting worse and worse.

You see that in the number of people killed, 395 last year, 90-some already this year. When and how does it stop?

Obviously, the state legislators don't care, or the governor, unless of course it should happen to their wives or children. Then I bet a bill would be passed in a matter of hours.

Don't want to tinker with the death penalty? They better tinker with it soon. Once again the victim suffers and the criminals sit in the jails that we are paying for and smiling, knowing they can't be touched.

Tom Dorman

Baltimore

Murder accessory

Now that Baltimore is mourning its 100th murder and it's only mid-April we should force our limp leadership to fulfill their sworn duty.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where are you now that we really need you? We have been denied "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The time has come to file suit against Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke as an accessory to these murders. His continued failure to provide adequate police protection for the citizens of Baltimore constitutes consent for the conditions that have caused these murders.

The very fact that there have been 100 murders in 15 weeks proves that police protection in Baltimore is inadequate. Increased police protection works. In anticipation of lawlessness, Los Angeles recently increased police protection. This resulted in an immediate radical decrease in all violent crime.

We must make an example of Mayor Schmoke. His consistent failure to use the power of his office appropriately has resulted in continued loss of life. This is the ultimate abuse of power.

How can anyone let Mayor Schmoke stand idly by, focusing only on his personal political ambition, while this carnage continues?

Lanny Schuster

Baltimore

Full quotas

I understand Jesse Jackson wants to impose a quota system on baseball. That's all well and good as long as it includes all of baseball. . . players as well as non-players.

But I betcha he'll never agree to that.

Richard T. Seymour

Baltimore

Black community's self-perpetuated genocide

For all intents and purposes, the black community is a war zone. We don't have to go to Bosnia-Herzegovina to learn about genocide because we are being given a first-hand lesson in the perpetration of genocide by other blacks in our community every day.

Countless black people, young and old, are afraid to go out of their doors because they don't know what innocent-looking young black man walking up the street is armed, dangerous and ready to kill another black man at the drop of a pin.

There is no justification for our having to live in an atmosphere like this.

Even a dog should not have to live in such an atmosphere. If it did, the Humane Society would come and remove it.

This senseless killing of black men by other black men has to cease because it is genocide of the black race.

Mothers and fathers have to teach their young sons not to take the life of another person because life is precious.

If this genocide continues, we will have done to ourselves what Hitler would have loved to do -- wipe the black race off the face of the earth. That is why this killing must stop.

If Hitlerites or white racists were killing five or 10 black people a day, we would be holding protest marches and appealing for federal intervention. But when one black person kills another, we don't do anything. Black life is cheap.

Young black men must be taught in the home, school and by television to resolve their disagreements through talking and not picking up the first available gun.

Our local government just has not done enough. The schools and churches have not done enough. We must insist that they do more.

The life you and they save may be your own.

Whitley Moore

Baltimore

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