Smoking curbs need expansion and enforcementA ''law'' that...

LETTERS

October 24, 1995

Smoking curbs need expansion and enforcement

A ''law'' that is not enforced is as useless as no law at all.

The state's alleged anti-smoking law is one such law -- at least for the moment.

When applied to restaurants where food is the main source of business, not alcoholic beverages, well over 90 percent of eating establishments with a liquor license are not complying with the letter of the law.

Mere non-enclosed partitions between smoking and non-smoking sections, in either a small or large dining area, is a gross violation of the law because smoke will infiltrate and pollute the air in the non-smoking section and is more of a poor attempt to pacify the non-smoker than to comply with the letter of the law.

Some are even trying to interpret lunch-counter establishments as bars. The penalties for noncompliance, as I understand it, are rather severe. Remodeling would be far less costly and can be written off as a business expense.

Of course, the owner of the eating establishment can choose to make the entire restaurant non-smoking. A bar -- where alcohol is the prime source of income -- is supposed to enclose (not just separate) the bar from the restaurant portion of the business.

For the hour or two that we do eat out, I don't believe we are creating an undue hardship on smokers. After all, we don't smoke in the movies, in doctors' offices or in the hospitals anymore, either, and we seem to be better off for not doing so.

Fred Tepper

Baltimore

A bill to ban the sale of cigarettes from all vending machines -- except those in bars -- was signed into law by Gov. Pete Wilson of California on Oct. 4.

The law is intended to curb the sale of tobacco products to minors. What a great idea for Maryland!

Robert A. Ritchie

Timonium

There is help for depression

I was encouraged to read about Frances Glendening's frank speech regarding the impact of depression and suicide in her family on her.

I hope that Gov. Parris Glendening, with his wife's able assistance, will address suicide prevention and education about mental illness as part of his agenda as governor to ease the stigma attached to this terrible illness.

As William Styron so eloquently writes in his memoir on surviving depression, ''Darkness Visible,'' people who are depressed are much more likely to hurt themselves than others.

Having just endured my first episode of major depression, I can empathize to even a greater degree with those who suffer from this debilitating disease.

From 1988 to 1992, I watched my youngest brother, in his manic-depressive state, go through two suicide attempts and seven hospitalizations in a psychiatric ward. My family will never be the same again as a result of those years.

As a result of my experience, I cannot urge others enough to get help for themselves or their loved ones for any type of mental illness.

As the most recent ad from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression reads: ''Depression. A flaw in chemistry, not character.'' Put away your pride and seek professional help.

M. G. Rayfield

Baltimore

Simpson jury followed the law

Mona Charen's Oct. 10 column is an example of a lack of understanding of the constitutional issues involved in the O. J. Simpson case.

Since the jury rendered its verdict I have been appalled, though not surprised, by the furor raised by members of my race.

Most of those who say the jury was wrong in acquitting Mr. Simpson had convicted him in their own minds long before the trial even began.

While I do not believe that his race was as much a prejudicial factor as was the involvement in domestic violence, our ability to disregard constitutional safeguards simply because we "feel" like he did it or wanted him to be guilty is very troublesome.

The jury saw every piece of evidence, watched every witness on both direct and cross examination and heard all the arguments. Most everyone else got their information through bits and pieces.

The jury members felt, based on all they saw and heard, that the prosecution failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Simpson was guilty. How long they deliberated is irrelevant.

I'd like to feel that any jury of 12 would have reached the same verdict, because the Constitution calls for it. I'm sure it was legally correct.

My anger is with the Los Angeles Police Department. Regardless, a murderer remains on the streets, and the people have no chance of ever convicting him.

Edward C. Dorsch Jr.

Baltimore

Rich people get acquitted

Before O. J. Simpson was accused of killing his former wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ron Goldman, he was just another famous black guy who did nothing for black people and cared nothing about being black. He divorced his black wife for a blond white woman. But as soon as the cops accused him of murder he became the blackest man since Malcolm X.

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