Letters To The Editor


July 03, 2006

Report documents dangers of smoke

On Tuesday, the U.S. surgeon general's office released its first report on secondhand smoke in 20 years ("Secondhand smoke risks are upgraded," June 28).

This report provides scientifically irrefutable evidence on the health hazards of secondhand smoke.

In addition to addressing the health effects of secondhand smoke exposure, which include lung cancer, the new report notes that ventilation systems are often ineffective at reducing the harm caused by the emission of cigarette smoke in restaurants and bars.

The report identifies smoke-free workplace laws as the key, effective way to protect all Americans.

It also refutes the argument that these laws are detrimental to the financial well-being of businesses.

Currently, 16 states, Washington, D.C., and more than 2,200 communities have passed smoke-free laws.

Most recently, the city of Philadelphia and the states of Hawaii and Louisiana passed smoke-free laws, both of which will be implemented in the next several months.

It is time that Maryland joins these states and communities in putting public health first.

Secondhand smoke causes 35,000 to 45,000 deaths each year from heart disease and 3,000 more deaths from lung cancer among nonsmokers.

Local and state legislators must protect the health of Maryland's citizens and pass smoke-free legislation now.

Anna Johnson-Winegar


The writer is chairwoman-elect of the board of the American Cancer Society.

It's time to protect hospitality workers

I hope the local and state legislators who have blocked smoke-free legislation in Maryland for years read the recent declaration by the Surgeon General that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that it is a significant public health risk ("Secondhand smoke risks are upgraded," June 28).

Additionally, I hope the Maryland Restaurant Association is paying attention to the recent news that our neighboring Pennsylvania Restaurant Association is changing its position and will support a ban on smoking in the workplace, including bars and restaurants.

The evidence that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, and documentation from independent studies that prove smoke-free policies and regulations do not have an adverse economic impact on the hospitality industry, should be enough to get legislation passed that will protect our hospitality industry workers and bar and restaurant patrons.

Michael Schwartzberg


Wireless Internet not a high priority

So let me understand this fully: Mayor Martin O'Malley wants to spend taxpayer dollars to give wireless Internet service at below-market rates to a city with one of the nation's highest murder rates and lowest-performing school systems ("City to seek proposals for a wireless network," June 27)?

Perhaps money and effort would be better spent on rebuilding the rudiments of society - such as the ability to walk the streets in safety and to obtain a meaningful education - than on such frills.

Or maybe this is a crime-fighting strategy: If the criminals have wireless Internet service, perhaps they'll be too busy studying their online courses to commit crimes.

Harry DeBusk


Israel lobby pushes meddling with Iran

The editorial "Meddlesome Iran" (June 25) suggests that the nuclear standoff with Tehran must be settled because of Iran's support of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah.

In fact, Iran has never been a direct threat to the United States. But it is a threat to Israel.

A recent study by professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on "The Israel Lobby" clearly shows that the Israel lobby was influential in getting us to invade Iraq, now promotes the idea that we should attack Iran and has caused us to maintain a Middle East policy that benefits Israel but harms U.S. interests and American security.

Instead of threatening Iran, we should be opening a dialogue with that country.

At the same time, we must end our support of Israel's brutal and inhumane occupation of the Palestinians, which is the issue most inflaming the Middle East.

Ray Gordon


One candidate committed to Iraq

It is said that "in war, the first casualty is truth," but I was astonished to see the same effect when The Sun editorialized on Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin's Iraq withdrawal plan ("Running on empty," June 18).

The editorial details the congressman's call for withdrawing about 66,000 U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of this year and goes on to state unequivocally, "It was significant that none of his opponents, including Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, attacked him from a more hawkish position."

That statement is demonstrably untrue.

On June 14, my campaign staff e-mailed a press release to The Sun titled "Rasmussen Condemns Cardin's `Cut and Run' Approach to Iraq."

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