Congress must enact Waxman smoking billAt a recent figure...

the Forum

April 25, 1994

Congress must enact Waxman smoking bill

At a recent figure skating exhibition at the Baltimore Arena, the cheering started before a single skater hit the ice: A loud cheer erupted when the building's "smoke-free" policy was announced.

It is clear that the tide has finally turned in the long battle for nonsmokers' rights.

The time has come to enact a proposal by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., known as the Smoke-Free Environment Act.

This bill would provide much needed protection for nonsmokers in public buildings by requiring nonresidential buildings regularly entered by 10 or more people to either ban indoor smoking or restrict it to separately ventilated rooms.

The legislation would not create a new bureaucracy since it would be enforced by citizen suits.

At a cost of less than $1 billion per year, this act would save at least 38,000 lives annually. Unlike most regulations, this one would actually save businesses money, at least $5 billion per year in reduced maintenance costs.

In addition to the many medical experts who have endorsed the legislation, it is also supported by several business groups that would be affected by the act, including the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the Building Owners and Managers Association.

Although the American Medical Association estimates that over 50,000 Americans die each year from lung cancer and heart disease due to exposure to second-hand smoke, passage of this common-sense legislation is not assured.

It is clear that the tobacco companies will do everything they can to protect their lucrative industry and thwart the will of the majority.

This bill should have the support of the entire Maryland congressional delegation. Any member of Congress who accepts the blood money of the tobacco industry and votes against this bill will have to answer to the voters in November.

Tobacco supporters often talk about freedom. There simply is no right to smoke around others.

The right of nonsmokers to live without having a known carcinogen forced into their bodies is grounded in the Constitution and cannot be denied. Just as "your right to swing your fist ends at my nose," your right to smoke ends at my lungs.

Shawn Blair


CFL commitment

I and my students at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School commend the members of the Canadian Football League who recently presented "The Terry Evanshen Story: Back to Life, Moment by Moment" at our school.

We were inspired by Mr. Evanshen's story of courage and commitment. In spite of the limitations of his size, Mr. Evanshen became one of the most talented, record-holding members of the Canadian Football League. He also became the youngest player ever inducted into their Hall of Fame.

However, a tragic traffic accident left him seriously injured, in a coma, and suffering from amnesia. His remarkable journey "back to life" was the documented focal point of the CFL program.

Mr. Evanshen's personal appearance and moving words made us all feel inspired and motivated to make the best of each moment we have.

If this program is any indication of the commitment of the Canadian Football League to the Baltimore community, then we will benefit greatly from their association with our city.

We commend the CFL and Mr. Evanshen for the interest in our young people and for bringing this remarkable program to our school.

Bonnie Russo


The writer is a social studies teacher at Merganthaler.

Tone it down

I've been a subscriber of The Evening Sun for a number of years and enjoy reading it on a daily basis, but I have a problem with one man who writes commentaries for your paper. His name is Wiley Hall.

Time and time again I read Mr. Hall's commentaries, trying to keep an open mind.

However, Mr. Hall does not make this an easy task. Consistently he turns any issue into a racial issue.

Example: Recently he wrote on the "Welcome to Baltimore, Hon" ordeal (March 29).

Never in a million years would the average person think this was a racial thing. But Mr. Hall had no problem digging to find something racial on this issue, more or less claiming this is strictly a white person's term.

Also, his comment about Confederate landmarks in the city is ridiculous. There are few such landmarks, and the majority are in turn-of-the-century cemeteries. Whether Mr. Hall likes it or not, this is a piece of Baltimore's history.

I've used only one recent example, but there are countless other columns in which Mr. Hall creates racial issues.

Is he not capable of writing on other issues? I think not.

Mr. Hall has the talent to be a good writer if he would only tone down these types of articles which, in my opinion, do nothing but widen the gap between blacks and whites . . .

W. Talbott


Whose arms?

With all of the news reporting of the Bosnian conflict, one item has been lacking: Who is supplying the war materiel to the Serbs?

Logic indicates that waging a war for more than two years has taken a toll on supplies used by the Serbs. Yet, the supply and use of the weapons of war in Bosnia appears to be endless.

If U.N. member states outside of the combatants are involved in the chain of supply, they, too, should be condemned.

Richard L. Lelonek


Bid out health care

That the United States has a serious crisis in health care is pretty well agreed. All manner of excellent treatments are available, but at horrendous cost. Here is a modest proposal to solve the problem.

We buy our cars from Japan, our household electric equipment from Korea, fruit from Chile, vegetables from Mexico, right?

So, I suggest contracting with the government of Canada to manage our health care system. Ask for a bid on the job. The savings would be enormous.

Jane Spencer


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