Letters To The Editor


October 03, 2002

Effort to curtail smoking saves money and lives

Jay Hancock's column "Maryland's tobacco policy isn't good for anyone's health" (Sept 25) was rife with factual errors and short-sighted assumptions.

First and foremost, it's completely false to state that Maryland is receiving "almost a quarter-billion dollars ... a year" from the tobacco settlement and spending $100 million a year on tobacco-use prevention programs.

Maryland's receipts from the settlement will total a little more than $160 million per year ($4 billion total).

From these funds, the state has allocated about $30 million a year for a comprehensive tobacco-use prevention program in which a media campaign is an integral part.

The simple fact of the matter is that hard scientific evidence exists to show that the programs and policies that Mr. Hancock has denigrated work, and work well.

At a time when we have budget deficits to worry about, investing funds in programs or enacting policies guaranteed to save Maryland lives, reduce Maryland health care costs, and make Maryland a healthier state should be at the top of any budget priority list.

Dr. J. Richard Lilly

Robert Villanueva Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, chairman and executive director of the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control.

In his "wacky" column "Maryland's tobacco policy isn't good for anyone's health," Jay Hancock ignored a slew of medical publications based on experience in other states.

But tobacco prevention works. In California and Massachusetts, smoking rates dropped by one-third through similar evidence-based interventions, which included mass media campaigns. It would be fiscally irresponsible not to use these proven methods.

Tobacco is the No. 1 cause of preventable deaths and health care costs. Failing to address this epidemic now results in far greater future expenditures for health care.

Dr. Joseph A. Adams


Who was Jay Hancock mad at when he wrote "Maryland's tobacco policy isn't good for anyone's health"?

He used few facts and many inflammatory words to condemn the state programs on tobacco control. But the fact is that most of the programs being tried have been shown to work, both through research and history.

Maryland is one of the few states that are doing something to save future citizens from the pain, suffering and costs of tobacco.

I say, keep up the good work.

William Follett

Owings Mills

Russo hasn't finished her job in Baltimore

The Sun's editorial "On Ms. Russo's watch" (Sept. 24) states, "Baltimore Schools Chief Executive Officer Carmen V. Russo can't be faulted for considering the Florida chancellorship." I disagree.

Ms. Russo applied for the Baltimore position. She wanted the challenge. It was clear that continuity at this level was one of the things the city schools needed. She accepted the job and was entrusted to be CEO for four years. It is reasonable to expect that she will do her job, to the best of her ability, for four years.

Those of us in the city know the needs and challenges here are great. Those who ask us to trust them with positions of leadership know the needs and challenges are great.

Once given such a position, to treat it just as a stepping-stone and walk off to some greener pasture is contemptible.

Anayezuka Ahidiana


Townsend reveals vision for Maryland

I applaud The Sun for the editorial "Round one" ("Sept. 28). It finally gave Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend the credit she deserves as an intelligent, articulate, passionate candidate.

During the Sept. 26 debate, she had a command of her facts and figures and expressed clearly her vision for Maryland on health care, education, the budget and crime.

Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., by contrast, kept attacking her and never expressed what his agenda would be.

Cynthia Fraser


Focus on race marred debate

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's use of the race card in the debate last Thursday was dreadful.

When Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said he was operating outside his comfort zone, it should have been understood that he meant the hostile arena, filled with rude people, not the fact that many in the audience were African-Americans ("Ehrlich and Townsend exchange jabs," Sept. 27).

His family was booed and the sponsors had to ask for crowd control as Ms. Townsend allowed her supporters to interrupt the process. Mr. Ehrlich wasn't the only one who was uncomfortable.

This nonsense must stop. Let's talk about something real -- for example, the $1.7 billion budget deficit the state faces.

Mary Kay Herzog

Bel Air

In contrast to The Sun's glowing review of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's debate performance ("Round one," editorial, Sept. 28), I think her performance only reinforced what I had heard about her. At times, she seemed nervous and frazzled. And her "assertiveness" seemed rehearsed and contrived.

Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. seemed reasonably clear and calm in front of this audience, in spite of the rude booing he encountered in the first minutes of the debate.

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