Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

November 04, 2006

Don't demonize smoking in bars

Jacques Kelly's voice of tolerance on the smoking issue is a breath of fresh air that is much sweeter than a smoke-free Baltimore would ever be ("A smoking ban? Baltimore is, as always, the last to get into line," Oct. 28).

As an ex-smoker, I realize I'm expected to be intolerant of those who still smoke, but this latest bandwagon - to ban smoking in bars and restaurants and virtually every public space - is one I can't jump on.

Nobody should. Any smoker or nonsmoker has the right to patronize bars and restaurants of his or her choice. The owners should also be able to choose how to run their establishments.

To legislate a ban is not the American way.

Before demonizing smokers and bars where smoking is allowed, consider a few points:

It's not purely an issue of economics. It is an issue of freedom of choice. The proposed ban is clearly anti-business. To legislate how a business can run itself is morally wrong, if not unconstitutional.

Yes, several Maryland jurisdictions have banned smoking in bars and restaurants. But that doesn't make it right.

For the most part, bars and restaurants in Maryland that have separated smoking and nonsmoking areas, at considerable expense to their owners, are so well ventilated that smoke in nonsmoking areas is virtually nonexistent.

My biggest complaint in dining out is not smoke; it's screaming babies.

I do see that most young mothers have wisely heeded the warnings about smoking and take their young children to the nonsmoking sections of restaurants.

This is good. It also leaves the smoking area as the non-screaming-baby area.

Colin Lewis

Towson

Time for city to join public safety trend

I want to thank City Council members Robert W. Curran and Kenneth N. Harris Sr. for sponsoring legislation that could make Baltimore the next smoke-free city. And I am delighted to see Council President Sheila Dixon leaning toward supporting smoke-free workplaces for bar and restaurant workers ("Dixon `leaning' to smoking ban," Oct. 26).

Baltimore is now the last major city in the Northeast without a smoke-free law.

Leadership on this issue is coming from elected officials and business organizations from around the country.

The Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, the Houston Chamber of Commerce, and Louisville, Ky., City Council are just some of the recent groups to express support for smoke-free bars and restaurants.

Sadly, the Maryland Restaurant Association has continued its opposition to a policy that would protect workers and patrons from the poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals in secondhand smoke.

But I hope the growing smoke-free trend around the country will be matched by a growing number of Baltimore officials who take a stand for safe, smoke-free workplaces and public places for bar and restaurant workers and patrons alike.

Bob Doyle

Baltimore

The writer is a volunteer for Smoke-free Charm City.

Divisive rhetoric debases presidency

In his desperation, President Bush is tossing aside any pretense of subtlety, civility or consensus-building and is applying his black-and-white, good-vs.-evil worldview to the midterm elections.

On Monday at Georgia Southern University, Mr. Bush said, "The Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses" ("Bush goes on the attack," Oct. 31).

In other words, if you're pro-Democrat, you're pro-terrorism.

Never mind that the link between the war in Iraq and the terrorist threat to our country has been contrived from the beginning.

Could anything be more transparently calculated or manipulative - or anti-American - than to equate a vote for Democrats with a vote for terrorism?

This is an insult to the 72 million registered Democrats, not to mention the independents and Republicans who will choose to vote Democratic in the coming elections.

Mr. Bush continues to debase the office of the presidency by taking the low road, peddling fear and seeking to pit one citizen against another.

Robert J. Inlow

Charlottesville, Va.

Abuses of power threaten democracy

The Oct. 26 Sun juxtaposed three articles of more than passing interest.

In a front-page story, we learned that "Diebold Election Systems shipped Maryland flawed electronic voting machines that were used in the 2004 election, then quietly replaced the malfunctioning components last year" ("Diebold machine glitch fixed quietly," Oct. 26).

We further learn that Diebold officials were aware of the problem for several years but did not feel it necessary to inform state election officials until last year, apparently after the repairs had been carried out.

On Page 9A, we read that the Bush administration, as represented by the vice president, does not regard water-boarding as torture.

"It's a no-brainer for me," Mr. Cheney is quoted as saying ("Interrogation method's use confirmed," Oct. 26).

And on the Opinion

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