Embattled smokers resort to tortured logicEach of the...

the Forum

March 29, 1995

Embattled smokers resort to tortured logic

Each of the pro-smoking arguments put forth by letter writer Diane Turner (The Forum, March 22) can be easily inverted to reflect the view and feeling of non-smokers.

From her comments it seems that if it came down to a case of going to a non-smoking restaurant or not going to a restaurant at all, she would rather smoke than eat -- and her non-smoking husband had better not dine without her.

That the ban on smoking is anti-business, and that it will hurt the restaurant industry is a bum argument.

Two things that hard-core smokers -- including legislators loath to bite the tobacco-stained hand that feeds them -- will not do are quit smoking or quit eating.

S. Joseph DeMarco


Diane Turner's letter of March 22 was fraught with misinformation and flawed reasoning.

First, Ms. Turner contends that "there is no evidence that second-hand smoke hurts non-smokers" This is nonsense.

In the late 1980s, the U.S. surgeon general issued a report that concluded that second-hand smoke does harm non-smokers. The report was over an inch thick and contained ample evidence for its conclusions.

Second, she asks "How can it be legal to have one person unilaterally decree that a legal activity be banned because he thinks it is a dangerous activity?"

The executive branch is given a great deal of power in order to regulate the workplace.

Is Ms. Turner suggesting that we wait for the legislature to regulate every detail of the workplace? The ban was not enacted a whim but on solid evidence.

Third, the only evidence she offers that workplace smoking is not a problem is that there have been no workmen's compensation claims based on second hand-smoke.

But even assuming no such suits exist, this hardly proves that workplace smoking is not a health problem.

A workmen's compensation claim based on such facts would be difficult to prove, not because second-hand smoke is safe but because it would be difficult to link the illness to smoke in the workplace.

Finally, the notion that those with bad habits should pay higher health insurance premiums would cause more problems than it solves.

For example, would a potential employer have the right to refuse employment to a smoker, since the employer often picks up the health insurance tab?

Could an employer refuse to hire an obese person because that person is a greater health risk?

In short, the notion that insurance premiums could be the problem is inherently flawed, because insurance premiums are more often than not paid by third parties.

Dennis G. Olver


Little progress

Your March 16 edition described action being taken by an advocacy group against the Baltimore City school system for its alleged failure to provide an adequate program for children with disabilities.

A lawsuit initiated 11 years ago has never been resolved. In fact, the school system's shortcomings in this respect extend farther back.

Eight or nine years earlier, we had in our care a foster child with disabilities.

Officials at a local school with a special education program refused to accept him for enrollment unless he was placed on tranquilizers, a condition which the agency's pediatrician rejected out of hand.

As a result the youngster had to be placed in another jurisdiction, where his needs could more appropriately be met.

Evidently the city system has made little progress in its service to children with special education requirements.

Abner Kaplan


Valuable service

May I congratulate you for your editorials and reports on the oddities and misdoings of our Maryland legislature in the field of health care.

Reliable information about this vital subject is hard to come by, and you perform a valuable service for Maryland citizens.

You have already made it very clear that the Republican effort to promote devolution to the states is foolhardy.

Heaven protect us from enhancing the powers of state legislatures when ours often sees no difference between the private interest of legislators and the public interest.

David Spring


Glass ceiling

The report of the 21-member "Glass Ceiling Commission" is timely and pertinent in light of the current debate over the need for affirmative action to remedy past and current workplace discrimination against blacks, women and other minorities.

The report indicates the urgent need for policy decisions and strict monitoring and enforcement to remedy the almost virtual exclusion of blacks and women from the upper strata of corporate America.

It is a national scandal that, 31 years after the enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, white males still make up 97 percent of senior managers in Fortune 1000 companies.

White women occupy only 5 percent of upper level positions in the Fortune 2000. Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are virtually invisible.

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