Ads, taxes send different signals about smoking...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

August 03, 2002

Ads, taxes send different signals about smoking

"Smoking stops here." That is the slogan of Gov. Parris N. Glendening's new multimillion-dollar, decade-long anti-smoking campaign ("`Smoking stops here' starting today, state officials declare," July 12).

I think the slogan should read, "Blowing smoke in your eyes" -- to reflect the fact that Mr. Glendening and his cronies are trying to get another slick one by the taxpayers.

The ads will be paid for with a portion of Maryland's $4 billion cut from the gouging of the tobacco companies. Ironically, the announcement of this campaign comes only months after Maryland's legislature passed a bill known as the "Bridge to Excellence in Public Schools Act," which includes a cigarette tax increase and $1.3 billion in increases in state aid to education (most of which will go to the wealthier districts).

So, in a nutshell, $4 billion is coming to Maryland over the next 25 years and $300 million of that will be spent encouraging Marylanders to quit smoking. And there is a new increase in aid to our schools of $1.3 billion and a $1-per-pack cigarette tax to pay for it.

This basically tells Marylanders: "We are going to spend $300 million telling you to quit smoking and raise the tax so you can't afford to smoke. But if you want your kids to have a decent education, ignore us and keep puffing."

Jessica Chew-Massey

Princess Anne

Fighting smoking helps poor people

The writer of the letter "Use of tobacco tax is self-defeating" (July 18) is confused about the work of Maryland Democrats to reduce the preventable illness and deaths visited upon this state every year because of tobacco.

Second-hand smoke causes about 3,000 nonsmokers to die from lung cancer and more than 60,000 deaths from heart disease in this country each year. It also causes 150,000 to 300,000 respiratory infections in children under 18 months old.

All of these consequences of smoking disproportionately affect the poor, for reasons ranging from limited access to quality health care to greater marketing of tobacco products in low-income neighborhoods.

Higher taxation pushes people to quit smoking. And an anti-tobacco campaign with the sophistication of the marketing used by the tobacco companies is also a wise move.

And, until the reduction in smoking catches on, the use of money from these taxes for education makes sense.

Better public education helps increase opportunities for the poor and is a necessary step in reducing poverty.

Patti Flowers-Coulson

Towson

Governor is wrong on pollution standard

The Sun's article "Glendening pledges to sue EPA to save clean-air standards" (July 20) is another example of the state government's lack of knowledge and of a common-sense approach in addressing environmental and natural resource concerns.

The "clear skies" approach the Bush administration recently set forth will in fact increase power generation efficiencies while reducing further air pollution.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's statement that "they want to give some of the nation's biggest polluters the ability to pollute more" is outrageously incorrect, and filing a lawsuit to block the proposed changes is another waste of taxpayers' money -- and at a time when they can least afford it.

Amending the New Source Review (NSR) rule as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposes, will provide an ongoing, effective incentive for power plants to reduce emissions.

Prior to this amendment, the NSR process was lengthy and costly and created a disincentive for old plants to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

The step taken by President Bush and the EPA will get our power generators moving once again in the direction of reducing pollution and increasing efficient energy production.

Richard E. Hug

Baltimore

The writer is chairman emeritus of Environmental Elements Corp.

Bush is no friend to world's women

The Bush administration has finally proved it is both cowardly and hypocritical. While claiming to be the liberators of women in Afghanistan and the protector of their rights worldwide, it has quietly gone on a campaign to deprive women of the ability to control the size of their families and have some hope of freeing themselves from poverty and hunger.

The administration will not fund the United Nations Family Planning program. It claims the program supports coercive abortions in China ("U.S. to withhold $34 million from family planning," July 23). This is false. A recent study by this very administration found no such link.

What the U.N. program does is support women in their attempt to control the size of their families through birth control, which prevents pregnancies and abortions.

The administration could become a true standard-bearer for elevating women out of poverty and freeing them from the demands of oversized families for which they cannot provide. Children born into such families end up malnourished and fall behind developmentally, which only increases the burdens on the rest of the world to care for them.

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