It's time for city to limit displays of tobacco products...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 03, 2001

It's time for city to limit displays of tobacco products

The introduction of a bill in the City Council aimed at preventing youth access to tobacco affords Baltimore the opportunity to join other communities in eliminating self-service displays of tobacco products in retail stores. As a community, we should support this effort.

One of the greatest problems we face in Baltimore is drug addiction. Of those adults who use illegal drugs, the vast majority began with the use of tobacco.

In fact, Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems statistics show that 64.8 percent of adult and youth clients, on admission to drug treatment, indicated that they use tobacco products.

With the cost of drug addiction in our community, from high crime to unemployment and drug treatment, the city can no longer afford to ignore efficient and effective ways of keeping gateway drugs such as tobacco out of the hands of minors.

It is illegal for minors to use or even possess tobacco. Yet tobacco products consistently remain the No. 1 item shoplifted in retail stores.

Effective laws regulating the display of tobacco are on the books in Montgomery and Howard counties and are being explored in many other jurisdictions. It is time to get this done in Baltimore.

Peter L. Beilenson

Baltimore

The writer is Baltimore's health commissioner.

Workforce cuts, not tax hikes, should balance city budget

Although I feel Mayor Martin O'Malley has done a remarkable job in bringing a sense of urgency and energy to City Hall that was lacking for so many years, I must part company with some of the administration's plan to balance the books.

Raising the income tax on city residents who are already shouldering a property tax burden twice that in other jurisdictions seems to me shortsighted. Attracting middle-class residents back to the city needs to be the mayor's and the City Council's top priority.

Scaling back the city's labor force to reflect population losses and privatizing services appropriately would be prudent steps in meeting budget shortfalls.

D. Kenneth Mangum

Baltimore

City must find ways to lock up lawbreakers

Another week, a couple more homicides ("Violent weekend leave 6 dead," May 1). The police have their hands full, and we sympathize with them. However, the question remains whether enough is done after culprits have been identified.

Often, perpetrators of crimes are either out on bail for a previous crime or on early parole for having committed a serious crime. Our lawmakers need to look at this and change the laws, if need be.

Ways must also be found to expedite judicial decisions in each case. If more judges and courts are needed, then let's fund them. Justice delayed is justice denied, as the saying goes.

And, in the city, there has to be some education of potential jurors about the grave responsibilities they have when called upon to serve. When the evidence is present, especially if it is overwhelming, a juror has to find guilt and depend on the court to decide the punishment.

We owe it to the police officers who risk their own lives to protect us, and we owe it to the citizens relying on a criminal justice system that is supposed to work

Richard L. Lelonek

Baltimore

Estate tax is unpopular because it's just unfair

The fact that the estate tax affects only a small percentage of taxpayers doesn't make it right ("Estate-tax repeal would be unwise move," editorial, April 21).

It's just not fair to have someone pay taxes on their income during their lifetime and then be taxed on what they retained from this income after they die.

I believe it is because of this unfairness that most people favor eliminating the estate tax, even though we will never have estates large enough to be subject to it.

Paul P. Botwinik

Baltimore

Why not just call capital `Ronald Reagan City'?

As usual, George Will is too conservative ("Too much ado about Reagan," Opinion * Commentary, April 27).

I propose we re-name the entire District of Columbia after President Reagan: Ronald Reagan City has a nice right-wing ring. Besides, Washington is too hard to spell; he's been dead for 200 years and he never did belong to a political party.

If that works, we can re-name the streets, too: Reagan-1, Reagan-A and so on; the diagonals could be named for Nancy Reagan.

That would save a lot of guesswork for tourists.

Ronald Blum

Timonium

Nurse practitioners add to available medical services

Nurse practitioners are educated, trained, experienced and competent to treat patients and provide exquisite care, whether or not they work with physicians ("Replacing doctors with nurses won't aid quality of health care," letters, April 25).

Nurse practitioners also work with psychologists, physical therapists, dentists, dietitians, social workers, occupational therapists, health care aides and registered nurses. They know if, when and to whom to refer those in their care, and are trained to educate and provide the kind of care that prevents disease and illness.

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