Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 20, 2007

Raise tobacco tax to fund health care

In his well-written piece for Sunday's Ideas section, "Taxing Issues" (May 13), Michael Hill left out one of the new revenue sources the next session of the Maryland General Assembly is most likely to tap: increasing the state tobacco tax.

Doubling the tobacco tax from $1 to $2 per pack not only would raise about $200 million in additional revenue for the state, it also would save 50,000 Maryland children from tobacco addiction, one-third of whom would have died horrible, tobacco-caused deaths.

That is why the overwhelming majority of Maryland voters, according to several polls, and hundreds of religious, health care, community, labor and business groups from across the state support increasing the tobacco tax, especially if the revenues are used to expand health care access.

During the 2007 General Assembly session, the House approved a bill to do just that on a bipartisan vote of 102-37. And since then, at least two other states, Indiana and Iowa, have raised their tobacco taxes to reduce teen smoking and fund health care expansion.

We at the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative look forward to working with Gov. Martin O'Malley and legislative leaders to make sure that a similar public health success happens in Maryland the next time the General Assembly meets.

Vincent DeMarco

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative.

Conservatives too express indignation

Thomas Sowell's column Thursday ("For liberals, indignation is a way of life," Opinion

Commentary, May 17) included a sentence that made me laugh so hard I cried. "How often have you seen conservatives or libertarians take to the streets, shouting angry slogans?" For him, the answer seems to be never.

Perhaps his TV or newspaper does not cover anti-abortion marches. Perhaps, coming from California, he has been asleep while the Minutemen shouted angry, hate-filled slogans about immigrants. Perhaps media coverage of a proposed amendment to burn flag burning was banned in his state.

Liberal Americans and conservative Americans rally and express outrage about the things that upset us.

Liberals and conservatives want pretty much the same things: Security for their families, a chance for the children to do well, a piece of the pie that is the American dream. We all see different routes to get to this goal, but we are so much more alike than different. Let us hope that both sides can stop blustering and positioning and start working on the problems and opportunities that face America today.

Rich Gorman

Baltimore

Falwell didn't claim moral superiority

The Sun showed its lowbrow side when it kicked a dead Rev. Jerry Falwell on its editorial page ("Falwell's majority," May 16).

Worse, the writer misunderstands what Mr. Falwell's Moral Majority was about. It was not "claiming to be morally superior." It was a political concept meant to identify a nontraditional voting bloc united by common moral and spiritual values.

Previously disregarded, these "values" voters became a significant voter interest group, and they remain a force in American politics today.

Tom Bisset

Lutherville

School faces fallout from lax parenting

The first question that came to mind after I read the article about the arrests at Crisfield High School ("NAACP probes school arrests," May 12) was: Why are police required at the school in the first place?

Second: Why are parents allowing their children to be disrespectful to adults, especially police officers, teachers or school officials?

And third: Where do authority figures draw the line on what's acceptable behavior and what is not?

The school has obviously had problems with students in the past. Lack of discipline seems to be a common thread among today's students.

The last time I was in school, we were not disrespectful, sassy, vulgar or rude. Had my parents received notice that police had to be called because of my behavior, I would have been sitting gingerly the following day, and that scenario would not have occurred again.

This situation doesn't read like a race issue; it reads like a lack of parental discipline issue.

Emma Pompanio

Baltimore and Crisfield

Snuffing out smoking in films will save lives

Kevin Cowherd's dismissal of the impact smoking in motion pictures has on young people is irresponsible ("Big-screen rebels sans cigarettes just seem bogus," May 17).

It is well documented that people emulate what they see on screen. If we didn't, companies wouldn't pay for product placement in hopes of influencing our choice of computer, automobile, soft drink or, yes, cigarette.

Limiting tobacco use and placement in movies geared toward children is common sense. Most people who become smokers try their first cigarette before age 18. For many people, it becomes a lifelong addiction. Smoking kills more than 438,000 Americans prematurely each year.

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