Not blowing smoke, but in denialI write concerning The...

LETTERS

April 20, 1997

Not blowing smoke, but in denial

I write concerning The Sun's April 8 editorial about Clyde's restaurant, "Blowing Smoke," and denial of the problem of smoking in enclosed places of public accommodation.

Clyde's denial was reflected by hiring tobacco lobbyist Bruce Bereano. Mr. Bereano is the long-time lobbyist for the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), a D.C.-based association that has consistently opposed clean air policies. Clyde's has been represented on RAMW's board of directors. RAMW is an association member of the Philip Morris "Accommodation" program, by which Philip Morris provides free publicity and marketing help to restaurants that promise to allow smoking.

Clyde's denial still exists. Clyde's says it will enclose the bar, the nicest part of the restaurant, so it can go back to allowing smoking.

The 600,000 Marylanders suffering from asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory disabilities do not have a choice. They require smoke-free air in order to breathe. They should be able to patronize the bar as well as the dining area of Clyde's.

A barrier of tobacco smoke is a major civil rights issue concerning equal access under the Americans with Disabilities Act. It would be no more appropriate to suggest that people with breathing problems can be accommodated in some restaurants (because they are smoke-free), but not a smoky Clyde's, than to suggest that people of a particular race or creed can be accommodated in some restaurants, but not all.

Smoking in restaurants is also a direct health risk to employees. Most wait staff and many bar employees are female. Exposure to tobacco smoke has now been identified as a hazard to the fetus of pregnant women. Studies indicate that waitresses die of lung cancer more often than any other women's occupational group. Lung cancer now kills more women than breast cancer.

We believe the time for denial is over for smokers as well. Given the danger to innocent third parties, we would urge smokers to voluntarily refrain from smoking in restaurants. Non-smokers can help by demonstrating their commitment to healthy air by patronizing the many fine smoke-free restaurants of Howard County.

Our organization is the statewide health advocacy group whose Howard members filed the complaints that triggered county action against Clyde's. Clyde's still has an opportunity to do the right thing and stay smoke-free. The health and quality of life of all who live or work in Howard County would benefit.

Al Ertel

Rockville

The writer is co-chairman of the Coalition for Smoke-Free Maryland Workplaces.

No conflict of interest in computer payment

Regarding the allegation, reported in The Sun in Howard April 9, that Gary Glisan's payment for 11 hours of computer consulting work for the Columbia Association was an "out of bounds" conflict of interest, consider the following:

Columbia Council policy specifically addresses this situation and limits contract arrangements to amounts less than $2,500 for the 12 months immediately subsequent to council service. CA paid Mr. Glisan in-kind compensation of $512.

I approved the expenditure in advance, based on advice to me that it would cost CA at least twice the amount to obtain the same service from another vendor. The arrangement made good economic sense.

There was no conflict of interest in this deal, nor do I see any reflected in the fact that Jean Freidberg (my opponent in yesterday's election for Hickory Ridge's council seat) also received small sums for services rendered to CA during the past two years. To suggest otherwise misrepresents reality.

Mike Rethman

Columbia

The writer is chairman of the Columbia Council.

Shift bill's defeat should sound an alarm

The recent decision by the Howard County Council to reject Bill 18, which redesigned the shifts for police officers and firefighters and provided for a more competitive benefits package, is not only disappointing to those persons who worked so hard to develop the proposal, but is most alarming to those of us who live and/or work in Howard County.

This proposal, accepted by labor and management with equal enthusiasm, would have had significant savings to the taxpayers and provided for a more efficient and effective delivery of public safety services.

What is particularly disheartening is that at the public hearing speaker after speaker testified as to the positive effects of this bill. Not one negative comment was heard from county offices, the police and fire departments, the respective unions or members of the general public. Nor did any of the council members voice reservations or concerns about the proposal. Apparently, however, in private session, some council members voiced opposition. So democracy, as it appears in Howard County, includes the right of the citizenry to be heard, but the elected officials have the right not to listen.

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