Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 18, 2007

Evidence contradicts foes of smoking ban

It is a comfort to know that The Sun is such an ardent supporter of a statewide indoor smoking ban ("No time to fold," editorial, Feb. 12).

During the time this bill has been before the General Assembly (since 2002), at least a dozen states and hundreds of local jurisdictions have enacted this kind of legislation.

The biggest opponent of the Maryland smoking ban legislation is the Maryland Restaurant Association, which continues to claim that bars will lose business but offers not one shred of real evidence.

We now have dozens of studies that show just the opposite, and when you consider that most of us are nonsmokers (80 percent), it's just common sense that businesses won't suffer.

In fact, in most cases, business improves, because nonsmokers (like myself) go out more often when we don't have to compromise our health.

Recently, the Tennessee and Wisconsin restaurant associations issued statements supporting statewide smoking bans. And when New York was considering its statewide smoking ban, the New York Restaurant Association came out in support of the bill.

Members of the Maryland Restaurant Association should strongly question why it is that this group continues to oppose this legislation in the face of the growing support for it and the evidence that it saves lives and is not bad for business.

Debra Kubecka Annand

Columbia

The writer is a consultant on tobacco use prevention and control issues.

Ban could cause pain for local pubs

Anti-smoking groups must stop claiming there is no loss of business when taverns turn into nonsmoking establishments ("City Council action moves smoking ban a step closer," Feb. 13).

This may be true for large restaurants or nightclubs, but in areas where anti-smoking laws have been passed, any neighborhood bar owner will tell you a different story: Small bars lose business.

This just stands to reason: If customers are outside smoking for a portion of each hour, they are not in the bar buying drinks, playing the jukebox or shooting pool.

Legislators and citizens can argue until the cows come home about health benefits vs. individual freedoms. But please stop insisting that small bars won't see a decrease in their revenues.

These bars are already operating on a slim profit margin - remember, they're selling dollar beers, not $6 martinis.

There are a lot of neighborhood bars in Baltimore. And if running a nonsmoking bar were profitable, some of them would be nonsmoking already.

Virginia Kline

Baltimore

The writer's family owns a small tavern in Essex.

Selling state lottery would be fiscal folly

Our politicians never seem to have enough money to spend, no matter how much is collected in various taxes and fees. And now the legislature in Annapolis is considering a plan to sell off the state lottery ("Talking up sale of Maryland lottery," Feb. 14).

The state lottery has provided a steady stream of income to the state for decades.

But apparently this is not enough - some politicians want more. So some legislators want to sell this valuable asset to get even more money.

But once the lottery is sold, the income stream would be lost forever. How shortsighted would that be?

Once the lottery is gone, I suppose we could sell off the state's public buildings in Annapolis.

The governor could live in a boarding house, and when the legislature wants to meet, it could rent a local bingo hall.

Leslie Kuff

Cockeysville

Privatizing lottery a bad deal for poor

The state lottery already amounts to an extremely regressive tax on poor people. The idea of selling it to a private company, which would fleece them further and more effectively, is reprehensible ("Talking up sale of Maryland lottery," Feb. 14).

The state would surely fiddle away its one-time windfall from the sale of the lottery. And when it's gone, it's gone.

Gambling is a tolerated evil.

Let's let the lottery remain inefficient and state-run so that we do not totally impoverish our least-sophisticated citizens.

Lawrence Silberman

Burtonsville

Resolve of president a source of comfort

The Sun's editorial "Say what?" (Feb. 14) chastised President Bush for not listening to the House of Representatives debate its nonbinding resolution criticizing his newest plan to try to win the war in Iraq.

Maybe the editors can answer this question: What good does this nonbinding resolution do?

As far as I am concerned, it is a way for some headline-seeking politicians to perform a public critique of Mr. Bush's policy without having to answer questions on how they would win the war.

It is so typical of the Democrats to criticize without having solutions.

If they were so sincere about this resolution, why not put their efforts into actually stopping this troop enhancement?

And since when is it wrong to actually stand for a policy that you believe in and not stick your finger into the wind of public opinion to see what you believe on any particular day?

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