Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 07, 2007

Leaders must move toward smoking ban

Kudos to Jean Marbella for cutting through the rhetoric and calling city and state officials out for their failure to make Baltimore and Maryland smoke-free ("Leadership on smoking ban evaded by city, state," Jan. 2).

The irony is that all of this hemming and hawing goes on even as Del. Peter A. Hammen, chairman of the House and Government Operations Committee, is being heralded for his proposal to extend health care coverage to 250,000 Maryland residents, and as the General Assembly appears poised to move Maryland closer to some form of universal health care coverage ("Health care options in works," Jan. 1).

One wonders if our legislators are aware that secondhand smoke is the third-leading cause of preventable deaths in Maryland, claiming the lives of 1,000 people every year.

Or that the economic costs of exposure to secondhand smoke in Maryland are nearly $600 million per year.

If leaders are serious about improving health and saving lives in Maryland, they will make limiting exposure to secondhand smoke a priority.

Moreover, while statewide legislation is the goal, smoke-free initiatives present a great opportunity for local officials to show leadership even if state officials will not.

Baltimore loses more than 150 people to secondhand smoke every year.

Instead of just following the state's leaders, soon-to-be-Mayor Sheila Dixon can and should become a leader by working to make the city of Baltimore smoke-free.

Dr. Pamela J. Amelung

Baltimore

The writer is a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and board member of the American Lung Association of Maryland.

Tobacco tax unfair as revenue source

The Sun's article "Drug treatment bill backed" (Jan. 3) states that supporters of this bill hope to raise the needed funding by adding an additional $1 tax to each pack of cigarettes sold.

While I am not a smoker or an advocate of smoking, I really don't see this as a fair way to raise drug treatment funds.

Drug addiction affects each and every one of us in some way. All of us should be willing to share the cost of funding the treatment of the addicts.

The legislature could instead opt to add a few dollars to our state income taxes to fund drug treatment.

Or because beer, wine and other alcoholic beverages are drugs as well, why not place a $1 tax on each bottle of alcohol or six-pack of beer?

Far more people choose to drink than to smoke.

Thus an alcohol tax would make more of the population share in raising the funds to help rid our communities of the drug addictions that affect everyone.

William Smouse

Millersville

`Surge' won't correct our course in Iraq

My thanks to The Sun for running Garrison Keillor's insights every Thursday on the Opinion

Commentary page. And he certainly has it right in "Time for the father to chat with the son" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 4).

Unfortunately for the United States, Iraq and much of the rest of the world, our president has brought death and destruction to thousands. His decisions show that he doesn't know the meaning of empathy.

How many more people must die so that President Bush can feel that he is a savior, rather than someone who has made a catastrophic mistake?

Let's stop the killing. Let's stop wasting billions of dollars.

We need some adult leadership based on empathy, compassion and reason.

We are off course, and a "surge" won't correct that.

Jeannette Ollodart Marx

Towson

Sacrificing troops will be Bush's legacy

I have seen it reported that President Bush will send another 20,000 troops to Iraq ("Bush to unveil Iraq strategy," Jan. 5).

What Mr. Bush desperately wants is a chance to secure his legacy. And in this he may actually be successful - although, naturally, not in the way that he intends.

Mr. Bush is apparently willing to spend more treasure and spill more blood so that he can look good in the history books.

And that will be his legacy.

John Gazurian

Baltimore

Fixation on fashion an insult to Pelosi

On a very significant day in our country's history, when a Democrat from Maryland became the first female speaker of the House of Representatives, The Sun chose to highlight Rep. Nancy Pelosi's amazing accomplishment by doing a feature article on her "fashion sense" in its Today section ("Suited for Politics," Jan. 4). Unbelievable.

Where were the fashion articles on all of the men who have ascended to positions of power in Washington?

It is only because Ms. Pelosi is a woman that The Sun had the gall to run such a ridiculous piece of fluff on such an important occasion.

The article states the obvious - that women remain a minority in the world of politics.

With such a sexist take on the new speaker in her own home state's largest newspaper, it's no wonder that women have to work twice as hard as men to be taken seriously on the world's political stage.

The Sun should be ashamed.

Veronica M. Clarke

Ellicott City

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