Votes show who supported tobacco use prevention programsI...


April 22, 1999

Votes show who supported tobacco use prevention programs

I would like to correct a misconception about the Maryland Senate's recent tobacco tax battle and filibuster. It was widely reported that Senate Republicans forced the governor to put money in his tobacco tax bill for tobacco use prevention and smoking cessation programs. This could not be further from the truth.

Having attended many meetings during the tobacco tax filibuster, I can attest that it was the senators who supported a tobacco tax hike who fought hard to get the Senate's leadership and the governor to accept the amendment requiring the state to spend at least $21 million a year on smoking prevention and cessation.

Watching the Senate from the galleries, one might have thought that the Senate Republicans supported significant funding for such programs. But one need only look at their votes to see that this was not the case. Only two of the 15 Senate Republicans voted for the 30-cent tax hike combined with the $21 million in tobacco use prevention funding.

Republicans' votes belie their supposed concern about teen smoking.

While many of us who favored an increased tobacco tax would have preferred to see a larger tax hike, we know from the experience of other states that a tobacco tax comparable to the one we passed, coupled with a well-funded tobacco use prevention and cessation program, will reduce smoking.

Paul G. Pinsky, Annapolis

The writer is a state senator from Prince George's County.

Restraining dogs in trucks would prevent injuries

As a veterinarian on the Eastern Shore, I would like to comment on the article "In Cecil, a fight over man's best friend" (April 16) regarding a proposal in Cecil County to protect dogs riding in the back of pickup trucks.

Every year, I treat at least five dogs who have jumped from the bed of these trucks. Some escape major trauma, most have severe orthopedic injuries, others die. I hear the same, tired line from each of their owners: "But Doc, he never jumps out of the truck."

The restrictions the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is proposing would not ban dogs from the backs of truck. All they would require is that dogs riding there be in a kennel or be tied to each side of the truck to prevent them from leaping out. A good collar and two leashes is all a dog owner would need to meet the suggested guidelines.

Denying that dogs jump out of trucks is foolish and irresponsible. I would think any dog owner would like to ensure that his pet return safely home after every trip.

The SPCA's proposal is a simple, practical way of preventing injuries, one that will still allow the owner to look back and see his buddy enjoying the ride.

E. Mitchell Arion, Goldsboro

Your article on the proposal by the Cecil County SPCA to require dogs to be tethered or caged while traveling in the back of a pickup incorrectly portrayed the bill as one which would completely ban dogs from traveling in the back of trucks. This is not the bill's intent at all.

This legislation intends to ensure that dogs who do travel in trucks can do so safely, not to do away with this so-called "sacred tradition" of dogs and trucks. A responsible report would have focused on the fact that no one is being asked to stop driving with their dog, just to do it safely.

Under the SPCA's proposal, Cecil County residents will have the same opportunities they have always had; their dogs will just be safer in the process.

Brian Daughterty, Baltimore

Mfume: a greater asset to city or to NAACP?

So what if Kweisi Mfume has lived a few miles beyond the city line for a brief period? Maybe he learned some of the low tax ways of our county brethren. Perhaps, too, while he was away, he gave some thought to a regional approach to governing that might be good for Baltimore and the surrounding counties.

Mr. Mfume is a wise and intelligent man whose long record in Baltimore City as a citizen, councilman and congressman has demonstrated a willingness to tackle the most intractable problems. Should he decide to run for mayor, the voters will decide if Mr. Mfume crossed the line. I, for one, will embrace him.

Nancy Haragan, Baltimore

I believe that Kweisi Mfume would make a great mayor for Baltimore. But he should stick by his guns and refuse to run for that office.

I believe that the NAACP and the global African-American community needs his voice more than Baltimore.

Phillip Paul Weiner, Pikesville

City can't afford pay hike for mayor

Kwesi Mfume appears to be a man of integrity. I would like to see him seek public office. However, it is irresponsible for the Baltimore City Council to be discussing a pay raise for the mayor as a way to manipulate the political process.

Baltimore is facing budget and job cuts in its fiscal year 2000 budget and cannot justify a significant increase in the mayor's salary.

If Mr. Mfume wishes to run for mayor, he should accept the current laws and salary.

Nijour Kelly, Annapolis

Why bother voting for mayor at all?

The powers in Annapolis

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