Letters To The Editor


September 18, 2005

Latest anti-smoking push is troubling

I'm troubled. Why is it so important that the county executive and the County Council spend time considering additional anti-smoking legislation?

From all I've read, the folks driving the need for the enhanced rulings are primarily pleading the case for the health of bar patrons and servers. Secondarily hoping to open up the field of available smoke-free drinking and dining choices for all.

It's been over 40 years since the news broke that cigarettes are killing us. It is indeed a public health menace. However, from my observations, and it may be borne out of statistics, there are an awful lot of smokers well under 40 years old who grew up getting the anti-smoking message every day of their lives. Yet, they choose to smoke. And spend loads of money on cigarettes. A pack-a-day habit costs about $1,500 a year, most of the money going to state and federal treasuries.

Seems the legislator's time would be better spent outlawing flatulence, another public nuisance damaging the ozone layer, instead of forcing hard-working adults into behaviors counter to their desire for relaxation in a welcoming environment.

You should know I quit smoking when cigarettes hit the astronomical price of 75 cents somewhere in the mid-'70s. I wish everybody would wise up and kick the addiction. But I bet many of us know doctors and perfectly reasoned others, taxpayers all, who continue to fire up a "cancer stick" when they can. Even if it means standing outside in a windy doorway on a snowy January day.

The watering holes I frequent seem to have fairly good ventilation as a result of the last anti-smoking legislation the county enacted. I notice the bar staff usually smokes, too. Probably the only folks who can light up in the workplace.

I also dine out frequently and enjoy meals with my family in smoke-free restaurants all over the county, never feeling limited in our choices by toxic air. No doubt other nonsmokers find their way to these spots, leaving the doomed to gather in the few places left for them.

So it appears enough time has been spent on the subject and Howard County's political leadership can turn their energies to solving some of the other issues undermining the quality of life in these parts. Such as bad comb-overs, loud, inane cell phone conversations, inappropriate wearing of spandex garments, mouth breathing, public nose-picking and the rest.

John J. Snyder


CA's headquarters should be in a cave

The Sun reports (Howard edition, Sept. 9) that the Columbia Association is considering options for locating its offices. In light of the recent elimination of the Columbia Council and CA's persistent penchant for secrecy and aloofness, CA should locate in a cave or similar hidden-from-sight venue.

M. Albert Figinski


Sarbanes shows it is time for him to go

I am disappointed in Sen. [Paul S.] Sarbanes' statement at the Howard County Labor Day picnic regarding Maryland having a Republican governor (Howard County section, Sept. 11). We in Maryland made a thoughtful decision and voted a Republican into the governor's office. Electing Robert Ehrlich into office is a testament to democracy, the two-party system and the will of the people. If Mr. Sarbanes thinks that is a disgrace and a shame, then it is most certainly time for him to retire.

Peter P. Tung


Soccer should be sport, not combat

In Saturday's soccer game, my son's travel team was two goals down with two minutes left in the first period. As the opponent's striker headed for the goal, my son, the goalie, made the decision and moved quickly to the ball. He grabbed it, went down and caught the knee of the striker directly in the back of his head. Everyone heard the impact. He went out, unconscious.

The next 22 hours were hell for his mother and me. Just five hours before the game, we shared with our tennis partners our conclusion that goalie was not the right spot for him. While he was good and enjoyed the position, he had already had one concussion having been kicked in the eye in a previous season and his intrepid style left us with foreboding that it would happen again. We even joked about creating SMASH, Soccer Moms Against Smashed Heads.

So now with a fractured skull and, thank God, apparently no other complications other than a headache, he sits at home recovering, soccer career on the shelf.

After those harrowing hours in the emergency rooms of Calvert County Memorial Hospital and then pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, we asked ourselves, "What's wrong with the referees? Why won't they call these infractions against players who hit the goalies? Why aren't helmets for soccer goalies the accepted norm?"

Our coach pins the blame on overly aggressive coaching rather than on the refs. I don't know what the complete answers are, but we came to a few conclusions.

Our terrible experience will regrettably happen to another boy or girl, maybe your daughter or son. While we are stepping out of the soccer establishment, I hope that in reading this some of you will press to reorient the direction of soccer toward sport, not combat; toward technique, not win at all costs. Sure, there will always be injuries. But helmets for goalies; penalties applied quickly and visibly for interference with goalies or other elements of dangerous play; and parents moderating the intensities of the coaches all should be the model and the acceptable norm.

Ken Hackett


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