Florida case is better than tobacco dealIn ''Will Tobacco...


September 17, 1997

Florida case is better than tobacco deal

In ''Will Tobacco Lawyers Be Indicted?'' (Sun Journal, Sept. 11), Scott Shane highlights the tobacco industry's sudden tactical switch toward settling cases as opposed to continuing to try to fight them. This move to settle indicates that the tobacco industry is definitely on the run.

In the settlement case that Shane mentions in Florida, the cigarette companies agreed to pay more than $11 billion. The tobacco industry also agreed to ban billboards, limit vending machines, and remove advertisements from sports arenas and public transit.

That's only part of the good news. Under Florida's get-tough approach, victims of tobacco could still have their day in court. And government authorities could continue to investigate and control dangerous industry practices.

It's a far cry from the bad deal announced earlier this summer between the tobacco industry and various state attorneys general. That tax-deductible deal -- sought by the cigarette companies -- would tie the hands of federal health authorities, severely limit the ability of victims to seek compensation, and permit the industry to continue covering up its dirty little secrets.

The Maryland congressional delegation should reject the bad deal, and instead take heart from Florida's experience. We now know that states can change the way tobacco companies do business.

Goldie Weixel


The writer is a consumer advocate with the Maryland Public Interest Group.

Race track would help a deteriorating area

I am writing this letter in support of the automobile race track planned in Essex. I have many friends and family members who are very supportive of it. We travel to Dover, Charlotte, Richmond and the Poconos every year, and we spend thousands of dollars on hotels, meals, entertainment and tickets. Why should we, among all the other fans that live here in Baltimore, take our money outside?

My husband and I took a ride to the track site. Guess what I saw as we drove up Eastern Avenue? The place is falling down, with vacant buildings and condemned apartments. This could bring money needed to build some nice hotels and restaurants in Essex.

The word is that there is a handful of retired residents who have nothing better to do than complain what a horrible thing this will be. I am in shock if they are proud of the view around them. If this track were there now, maybe you would not have had to cover the story about those apartments that were vacant due to people unable to pay rent. It seems to me that a race track with 2,000 jobs would be a perfect fit.

Sharon M. Browning


Too many stops slow trains down

Light rail is not rapid rail. More stops, such as Cross Keys and Ruxton, will only slow down what is already a crawl through downtown and a plodding stop-and-go trek out to the suburbs.

If anything, stations such as Timonium (fairgrounds, when there's no fair) should be bypassed when the conductor sees no one on the platform and no one on board has requested to get off.

With the new line extensions, light rail needs to be speeded up, not slowed down with more stops.

arvey Schwartz


Mourning royalty after a tragic crash

The public reaction to the tragic death of Princess Diana brings a sense of ''deja vu'' to Europeans of the pre-World War II generation.

In 1935, Queen Astrid of Belgium was killed at the age of 29 in a car crash while riding with King Leopold during a family vacation in Switzerland.

She left behind her three children under the age of 10 and a young king who, although injured, survived the crash.

All Europe mourned her and the outpouring of sympathy was overwhelming (the profound grief did not extend beyond the oceans as information, those days, did not travel as it does today).

The queen was an idol for the Belgians and many Western Europeans. She was admired not only for her beauty but also for her devotion to her husband and children, for her genuine fondness for and empathy with the poor, the sick, the outcasts and for her simplicity.

Her comforting smile was legendary and she was known as ''la reine au sourire'' -- ''the queen who smiles.'' The intensity of the grief in both Queen Astrid and Princess Diana's deaths is not only partially due to the esteem in which they both were held but also to their youth which caught people unprepared for such a dramatic event.

The eulogies for Astrid and Diana are very similar: They mention their natural beauty, their smile and the fact that although ''royalty'' they showed by their action their genuine interest in people of all classes, races and religions.

They will be remembered by many generations.

Ghislaine Godenne


Press freedom doesn't excuse paparazzi

Princess Diana may have used the press but she did not abuse it.

Freedom of the press does not encompass the obscene violation of privacy by paparazzi any more than freedom of speech is a license to lie, convoluted legal rationalizations notwithstanding.

`Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt


Deer nuisance is humans' fault

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