Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

October 06, 2002

Columnist wrong on tobacco policy

In his Sept. 25 column, "Maryland's tobacco policy isn't good for anyone's health," Jay Hancock criticizes municipalities for "blowing" tobacco settlement funds. He cites as an example the "Cadillac model" smoking cessation program we in Howard County have successfully established over the past year.

With the CDC reporting that the cost savings from reduced tobacco use due to cessation interventions would more than pay for those interventions within three to four years, Mr. Hancock's conclusion that "there are better ways to spend the money" demonstrates his ignorance of accepted tobacco policy and the research behind it.

The investment Howard has made by supporting a cessation program based on best practices will not only benefit the health of its employees and citizens, but also save money in time lost from work, lost wages, and insurance costs. Shortsighted remarks by Mr. Hancock serve no one.

Finally, a point of clarification: the Howard County smoking cessation program does not prescribe antidepressants or treat depression.

We do provide Zyban, a medication the FDA designates as a smoking cessation aid. Zyban, along with nicotine replacement therapy, is a first-line medication for smoking cessation. Wellbutrin SR, which contains the same chemical as Zyban, has been indicated by the FDA for some time as an antidepressant.

Dr. Cynthia M. Lipsitz

Columbia

The writer is director of clinical services for the Howard County Health Office.

Better pay will mean better social services

Several articles have been published lately about the "ills" of the foster care system in Maryland. As a foster/adoptive parent in Howard County and a member of the Howard County Board of Social Services, I take issue with the many generalizations about the care social workers take with record keeping and home visits, etc.

The majority of social workers are sincerely caring and concerned about the welfare of the children in their charge. They are understandably stressed and overworked when the state issues a hiring freeze which certainly affects worker morale and output.

Why is anyone surprised at the flaws in the system given the handicaps workers have to face each day which prohibit effective work.

It occurs to me that the state government is guilty of child abuse by refusing to allow the hiring of more workers and not offering those on duty the salaries they deserve.

When will we stop expecting those in social services (social workers, teachers, police and firefighters) specifically to work for next to nothing? Let the governor spend the day at a local DSS Service Center suffering the barrage of angry words and insults the case workers encounter simply because their hands are tied by bureaucratic red tape.

When will teachers, social workers, police and firefighters make nearly what they are worth, especially because of the difference they make in the lives of others? Why is it front-page news when they go on strike for demanding what is just as regards salary?

It is sad that sports figures always seem to get their way when they threaten to strike or kick and pout in the public eye when it comes to the millions they did not receive in salary and bonuses.

Shut down the stadiums and fire the teams, then divert the monies wasted where it belongs, with the teachers, social workers and the like who put their lives on the line every day trying to make a difference.

Can we stop sticking our collective heads in the sand and get real about this issue?

Robert Sutliff

Columbia

Correcting record on horse center

I was surprised to read in the September 30, 2002 issue of the Sun that Barbara Russell said that she first brought up leasing the horse center.

Columbia Association (CA) staff requested of the Columbia Council on Feb. 10, 2000 the option to pursue a lease of the horse center. This is documented in the official minutes of that meeting.

Therefore, it could not have been Ms. Russell's idea since she was not seated as a council member until May of 2000. It should also be noted that CA also leased the horse center on a prior occasion in the 1990's.

Lanny J. Morrison

Columbia

Schrader's absence at forum legitimate

I read with dismay your Sept. 22 article in which Sherman Howell blasted Senator Sandra Schrader for her absence from an African-American sponsored candidate's forum ("Candidates forum short on pleasantries").

Having already been informed that Senator Schrader had a previous engagement, I feel that Mr. Howell was very arrogant in insinuating that she should have canceled her prior commitments because his function was more important.

In case Mr. Howell is not aware, early childhood education is extremely important to the children and families that live in our county.

I applaud Senator Schrader for keeping her word and showing by example that she values both early childhood education and those that work in that profession.

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