Boosting tobacco tax would curb smoking by children, adults


January 01, 1999

The Maryland legislature will have an unparalleled opportunity in 1999 to decrease cancer death rates by passing the Maryland Children's Initiative to raise the state's tobacco excise tax by $1.50 over a three-year period.

A considerable body of research documents what all of us know from our own experiences: As the price of an item rises, its consumption decreases. Raising tobacco excise taxes means that many smokers would quit, and others would smoke fewer cigarettes. Youths, who have less disposable income than adults, are more likely to quit or never start in the first place.

About one-third of Maryland's cancer deaths are caused by tobacco products. Yet 20 percent of Maryland adults and 30 percent of Maryland high school students still smoke. These individuals are playing with fire.

Half of all long-term smokers will die from smoking-related illnesses, and one in four smokers will die in middle age, losing 20 to 25 years of normal life expectancy.

Tragically, in contrast to many types of cancers for which a cure is not known, cancer deaths caused by tobacco use are entirely preventable.

The Maryland Children's Initiative has the support of more than 300 community groups from across the state, as well as the support of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and nearly 100 members of the Maryland legislature.

Marylanders are weary of the dubious distinction of being among the nation's leaders in cancer deaths. I urge our state legislators to support this timely, common-sense measure.

Simply put, raising tobacco taxes will save thousands of Maryland citizens from preventable, premature death and their loved ones from unnecessary suffering.

Christian H. Poindexter


The writer is chairman of the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control and chairman and chief executive officer of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.


In an effort to end the age of endless double-talk, wouldn't it be great if in 1999 the term "politically correct" would be replaced by the more discerning "academically accurate"?

Paul Fenchak



I was heartened to read Patricia Meisol's informative article "A shock to the system" (Dec. 28) on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the Today section.

As a former center director for Sheppard Pratt Hospital, I personally witnessed the remarkable curative effects of ECT on severely depressed individuals. Unfortunately, I was also privy to the opinions of many patients and family members who openly declared that they or their family members were not going to get any of those "shock treatments" that would "fry their brains."

Ignorance can only be eradicated through public awareness and education. I thank The Sun for its sensitive coverage of such a controversial treatment.

Valerie Verrecchio



Could it be that at least one of your staff recognizes world population growth as a serious problem? KAL's perceptive Dec. 27 cartoon, showing a straining and groaning planet one millennium from now is allowed the license of being perhaps just a little removed from reality.

Long before the year 3000, humans on this planet will surely be facing horrendous demographic concerns, or overpopulation catastrophes of the apocalyptic kind.

There's a big block of people such as me who believe in this pessimistic outlook but probably an even bigger group that ignores or disbelieves basic facts of biology, society and limited resources. They think God's mercy or the clever human brain will somehow overcome.

KAL's message inspired a dreamy wish as I went to the next page and read Barry Rascovar's column on Gov. Glendening's legacy. I thought of how brave and correct it would have been if our governor had listed as one of his priorities an honest discussion of this state's growth problems. Not in the usual way of patching up the suburban sprawl symptoms by the futile delaying tactic of "smart growth," but by actually saying out loud the nasty words "controlling population growth."

But a governor and his governed (including those who in the short term are benefiting from growth) are concerned with what lies, at most, five years ahead.

I think it is The Sun's duty to bring forward the views of those of us who think that the many facets of overpopulation must be discussed rationally.

Nelson L. Hyman



In the article on trout ("Small fish fuel big debate," Dec. 28), you quoted Baltimore County Planning Director Arnold F. "Pat" Keller as saying, "Posturing by residents who don't want their views marred by development demeans the trout."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.