Smoking warsThe Aug. 27 article, "Smoking wars hit the...

the Forum

September 11, 1995

Smoking wars

The Aug. 27 article, "Smoking wars hit the stores," is so glaringly off the mark that one wonders if anyone is awake down there. Featured are two tobacconists, one in Towson which is going out of business because it lost its lease and one in downtown Baltimore which is flourishing. The inference is that the controversy over cigarette smoking is responsible for the former, and one is left to speculate upon the contrasting success of the latter.

Tobacco shops, which specialize in cigars and pipes, have little to do with cigarette smoking; they serve a different market and most seem to be flourishing. Tobacconists, such as the two featured in the article, sell relatively few cigarettes.

So why, then, does the story quote figures relating to the number of the nation's cigarette smokers in an article ostensibly about tobacco shops? Cigarettes are killers, there is no question about that. Cigar and pipe smoking are not and should not be categorized with cigarette smoking.

There is no surgeon general's warning, for example, on cigar and pipe tobacco packages. In spite of these distinctions, the writer proceeds to the remarkable conclusion that the 30 percent increase in tobacco shops over the last five years in the face of a slight decline in cigarette smoking can be attributed to "backlash" over the efforts of the government to suppress cigarette smoking.

Actually cigar and pipe smokers have been the targets of anti-smoking attitudes far longer than cigarette smokers and have pretty much learned to deal with the problem without a lot of fuss and bother. Their indulgences were banned on airplanes long before cigarette smoking was banned. But then the nature of cigar smoking, in particular, is so very different from cigarette smoking.

Under favorable circumstances (absence of hostility), the smoking of a cigar or pipe is a rich and pleasurable experience, quite unlike the furtive sucking on a cigarette for a quick nicotine hit one usually witnesses. Not relevant, but worth noting, is that cigars and burnt pipe tobacco are completely biodegradable, quite unlike the ugly and permanent cigarette filters one sees strewn everywhere across the landscape.

Your writer really messed this one up. Maybe he is a summer train

ee. If so, he really should look for another occupation.

But where were your editors?

John S. White

Stewartstown, Pa.

Surprise, surprise

What do economists know, and when do they know it?

Their eyebrows must be perpetually raised -- over the unexpected size of the trade gap, increase in applications for unemployment compensation, evidence of weakness in the economy. Again and again, ''economists were surprised . . .''

Mary O. Styrt

Baltimore

Better record

With all due respect to Cal Ripken Jr., Wiley Hall's Sept. 5 column put The Streak into excellent perspective when he commented that it is "not as laudable as the achievements of the dozens of Baltimore school children who graduate each year with a perfect attendance record."

In this regard, may I suggest that The Evening Sun launch a campaign to identify and honor students who have achieved perfect school attendance records from kindergarten through grade 12. At 180 days per year, this amounts to 2,340 consecutive days of school attendance, better than Cal's record.

It denotes unbending dedication to a far super and enduring cause -- the education of self (and ultimately of others) as compared with the entertainment of the masses.

Paul L. Canner

Catonsville

Fan fun

Perhaps the most wonderful aspect about the human emotions that were expressed by the people of Baltimore on the night of Sept. 6 was that they demonstrated the ability of human beings to celebrate appreciation for another person's dedication and success.

It was wonderful that Cal Ripken and his achievement were the catalysts for this event. Although Baseball Inc. will bask in the reflection, the fans of Baltimore experienced the power of celebration and respect.

I hope that Cal's example will inspire us to seek out and appreciate the less publicized accomplishments of many more people in our community and reap the communal benefits of celebration and joy.

Frank W. Palulis

Ellicott City

Rival churches but only one Heaven

If, as an undergraduate at Morgan State College more than 40 years ago, I would have accepted a full scholarship to study religion, perhaps I would understand this conflict which seems to be presented in the article, ''White overture worries black Baptists'' (Sept. 5).

As a young man, I was taught that the purpose of religion, irrespective of the denomination, was to have people lead a ''good'' moral life, according to certain Biblical guidelines and doctrinal principles intended to prepare adherents' souls for acceptance into the kingdom of God.

I also learned that, with God, there was neither ''bond nor free,'' male nor female, black nor white, etc.

Why then the conflict about the Southern Baptist Convention attempting to steal the flocks of the National Baptist Convention of America Inc.?

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