Smoking Ban: Business BoonThe tobacco industry is spending...


May 15, 1994

Smoking Ban: Business Boon

The tobacco industry is spending a fortune trying to convince people that the proposed Maryland regulation to ban smoking in all Maryland workplaces, including restaurants and bars, would hurt the Maryland economy because smokers would run to nearby states to dine and drink.

A rational look at the statistics, however, proves otherwise . . .

The U.S. population is approximately 250 million people. The tobacco industry says the number of smokers is 50 million. I think this is an inflated figure but let's give the tobacco side the benefit of the doubt. This means that for every smoker there are four non-smokers.

Suppose we take 100 people at random: 20 of them would be smokers, 80 would be non-smokers. After the Maryland regulation goes into effect, suppose that 50 percent of the Maryland smokers crossed the border to eat or drink. This amounts to 10 people. Now suppose 50 percent of the border state non-smokers crossed into Maryland to eat and drink in a smoke-free environment. This amounts to 40 people -- a net plus of 30 people for Maryland.

Even if all the Maryland smokers went to other states and only 50 percent of the border state non-smokers came to Maryland, there would still be a positive increase of 10 for Maryland.

Additional benefits to the proprietors will be to spend less on ventilation, clean-up costs, fire insurance and the threat of lawsuits. The overall effect will clearly enhance the Maryland economy.

John H. O'Hara


St. John's Lane

It is with utter shock I write this letter. I cannot believe the Howard County school board has voted to "do nothing" to reduce the numbers at St. John's Lane Elementary School.

One year ago, a large group of concerned parents testified, begging for relief. We were given additional trailers and the promise of redistricting in 1994. So you can only imagine my reaction to the March 25 news article. St. John's Lane is again told to wait it out for three years when a new school will offer relief. Doesn't that sound familiar? Remember the late '80s and the opening of Waverly in 1990? Waverly opened at 30 students above capacity and St. John's Lane still had 47 above capacity. Look at SJL enrollment since then:

* 1989 -- 964

* 1990 -- 666 (Waverly opened)

* 1991 -- 686

* 1992 -- 762.5

* 1993 -- 787

* 1994 -- 820 (estimate includes 93 kindergarten full-time equivalent students.)

We no longer believe that St. John's Lane will ever see relief. Since 1988, when I moved to Howard County, I have endured a history of overcrowding, portables and broken promises.

We, the parents who have poured our hearts and souls into St. John's Lane; the parents who serve faithfully on the Parent-Teacher Association; the parents who help teachers and students in the classroom -- we quit. . . . We cannot afford to spend another ounce of energy pointing out the inequities at St. John's Lane. . . .

Karen C. Spitz

Ellicott City

Rewarding the Wrongdoer

In your April 18 editorial, "Taming the Root of Violence," the agenda of conflict resolution, despite an admission that heinous crimes cannot be avoided by a simple chat, was too easily accepted.

Conflict resolution may be fine for disputes where honest parties are acting in good faith, but not every conflict results (as you noted) from a simple misunderstanding that could easily be avoided by a structured discussion.

There are many cases where one person or side is clearly in the wrong, and the worst thing that can be done is to compromise for the sake of it. Such feel-good compromise, in effect, rewards the wrongdoer.

An effective way to keep violence under control is to promote good character and values in people so that they get along with others and avoid or deal with unpleasant situations without the need for third-party saviors in search of more funding and power over other persons' lives. And wrong behavior, such as some punk thinking that an accidental bump by someone else is the signal for an in-your-face showdown, should be punished or stigmatized (not analyzed and "understood").

The responses to the survey on violence mentioned in your editorial on the "helpfulness" of strict gun control, the "danger" of a gun in the house and the sight of violence causing more violence shows how brainwashed some people are on these subjects. Harsh gun control will be used to bully the law-abiding citizen instead of the criminal. If this country doesn't have the backbone to disarm and deal with the criminal now, what difference will a few more laws make?

The idea that having a gun in the house is dangerous is based on flawed and biased "studies." These studies looked at a few carefully selected cases where someone was killed in a house with a gun, and the samples are loaded to include suicide and households that have violent people in them.

And the findings conveniently ignore the over 1 million times a year (as found by more thorough surveys such as that by Gary Kleck) when people use guns to drive off or wound their would-be attackers (not to mention how the fear of an armed populace deters crime to begin with).

And the notion that witnessing violence in the home will cause a person to commit violence is a sociological old wives' tale. Most people have had the displeasure to witness at least one violent act in their household and do not feel the need to embark on a rampage. The environmental determinism of the secular witch doctors is founded on an inaccurate and dehumanizing view of human nature and treats people as if they were wind-up automatons merely responding to events.

Getting control of violence requires holding people responsible for their actions.

Charles E. Wilson Jr.


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