Children firstRegarding the article on March 12, "One...

the Forum

March 21, 1995

Children first

Regarding the article on March 12, "One Family's Struggle to be Together": I am appalled that the NAACP and the National Association of Black Social Workers would take a stance that puts race before the best interest of children. I am sure that the late Justice Thurgood Marshall would also be appalled.

If black children are being placed with white families over "black families -- even relatives," perhaps there are valid reasons behind the decisions, and maybe considerations other than race are being given priority -- such as a stable and loving home where the adults are committed to fulfilling the needs of the child.

Relatives, of any race, are not always the best choice as care-givers for children left without their parents (biological or adoptive). Biological links aren't required in order to provide a loving and nurturing environment . . .

Charles Cobb, the father of the girls in question, and their mother, died of AIDS.

Do social workers and the NAACP want to return children who are loved and well cared for to an environment where they become another high risk statistic just because the care giver is not of the same race? How can they possibly justify such an action?

The need to put the welfare of children before anything and everything else is long overdue. Adult selfishness based on the feeling of child "ownership" has already placed too many children at risk . . .

Shepherd

Baltimore

Licking smoking

To this time it has been my impression that the number of smokers in the United States comprises 25 percent of the population, unfortunately including a large segment of teens and pre-teens who do not yet know any better.

I'm happy to note that by the reckoning of J. Brunsman (letter, March 11) the number is falling and is now 20 percent. My estimate by observation in restaurants, malls and other public places -- even on the streets -- is that the actual number is more like 5 percent, or less.

As a former two-plus-pack-a-day-smoker I fully empathize with J. Brunsman and others who smoke. I smoked for 59 years, tried every means of quitting that came down the pike for the last 39 of those years and, after a heart attack and 23 days in a hospital, finally had the demon somewhat under control.

I say "somewhat" because the desire persisted for more than a year beyond that before I was more than a little sure I had it licked.

Now I can vehemently dispute any argument by the tobacco industry that cigarette smoking is not addictive.

Now my home, my car, my clothing no longer stink; my sense of smell and taste are surprisingly sharpened.

I cough only when I have a cold. My wife is no longer distressed by watering eyes, breathing problems and anxiety about that facet of her health and mine.

And together we have, in effect, a $1,500-a-year windfall.

I ask our esteemed legislators, who seem to be bent on yielding to the tobacco interests, to please preserve the ban on restaurant smoking for the 95 percent of patrons who refrain, whether by choice or deference.

I find it disgusting to have to ingest someone else's second-hand smoke with my meal.

But J. Brunsman has a point. Until they can all be weaned by choice, economics, disease or death, the dwindling minority of smokers need some kind of accommodation.

S. Joseph DeMarco

Baltimore

Smokers' rights

When Gov. Paris Glendening wonders where all the funds will be coming from that used to come from bars and restaurants, he can ask himself who's to blame. Taking smoking from these businesses is like taking food from families -- they starve.

No one is forced to go into establishments if they don't like the smoke. Keep it up and all the rights to make our own decisions will be gone. Probably, so will Mr. Glendening and his cohorts -- in the next election.

I hope the government has enough money to pay unemployment for the people working on farms, making cigarettes, matches, ashtrays and smoke eaters, as well as the sales people for these commodities.

I have a tavern, and already half of my customers say they will stay home if they can't smoke. Also, the people who have smoked a long time have a big problem stopping.

One customer has tried over and over to stop and has almost killed herself with the patches. Doctors will be kept busy with stress and breakdowns and not with cancer. Avoiding smoking with the young ones is good, but old-timers have a problem.

I don't smoke and never have, but I think the state is going too far. There are more people getting killed through violence.

Smoking does not cause all cases of lung cancer, and stopping the smoking in bars and restaurants will not purify the air.

The reasons people patronize taverns have changed. They come for relaxation and fun, to play pool, to socialize with friends and to let go of the tensions of today's world. My pool league is coed and only five out of the 20 do not smoke.

If they can't smoke, where are they to go? Don't take their freedoms away.

Marie Floyd

Baltimore

Sexes' equality begins to bear bitter fruit

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