Harmful GiftRobert Hilson Jr.'s Nov. 28 article,...


Harmful Gift

Robert Hilson Jr.'s Nov. 28 article, "Gleam of gold lights up a smile," calls attention to a dental public health problem. The tooth decorating fad often results in harmful effects to teeth and their supporting structures.

Repairing this damage is a costly venture, usually needed for those who can least afford it. To my knowledge, dentists discourage decorating teeth, and very few will insert the gold colored sleeves described in the article.

According to the article, the "sleeves" or "caps" are purchased and usually inserted by the buyer at locations other than the costume jewelry or novelty shop.

In the past, the "caps" were tried on and inserted in the shop or store, leading to obvious public health risks.

Because of efforts by the Division of Environmental Health, Baltimore City Health Department, this practice should no longer exist.

Thanks for a very timely article. It comes at a time when "gold teeth" may be selected as Christmas gifts. Mr. Hilson makes an excellent case for a wiser choice and a less harmful gift.

Bettye Jennings, D.D.S.


The writer is director of dental health services for the Baltimore City Health Department.

Regressive Scheme

Let me see if I understand this. The politicians in Annapolis have spent $96 million in tax money to build 15 new emission test stations.

Beginning Jan. 1, we taxpayers are going to line up and have minimum-wage attendants take our $15,000 to $30,000 car, hook things into the engine and then run the car at 55 mph on a dynamometer, while we stand helplessly by in a "lounge" and watch. I don't think so.

Politicians and auto mechanics. Draw your own conclusions.

This is a situation ripe for fraud and abuse, beginning with $450 in repairs. Let's see, 540,000 cars (20 percent of 2.7 million vehicles) a year, that makes $743,000,000. What is going to stop mechanics from "untuning" our car so it fails and we have to come back and get it "fixed?"

I, for one, don't think 11 days with high ozone levels is so bad; that is less than 5 percent of the year. I'm sorry that all the people with lung disease suffer on those 11 days, but most of them owe their misery to smoking, and I am tired of paying for it.

This is a regressive, punishing program and the people least able to pay for "needed repairs" are the ones most likely to have to make them.

Barbara Johnson

Glen Arm


I resent the arrogance of people (letter, Nov. 26) who tell us how much and where to spend our money.

If they feel that paying nearly 50 percent of one's income in taxes is a light tax burden, then what do they want, 100 percent?

This attitude of the quasi-liberals never ceases to amaze me. If they are so emotionally overwhelmed by their nation's ills, let them contribute all of their own income.

Giving to the less fortunate among us is considered charity and should remain a voluntary enterprise.

Forced giving of our earned assets is not charity, but comes under the heading of theft.

It is this Robin Hood mentality that is destroying a great nation.

Otto C. Beyer

Ellicott City

Private Prayer

It was such a pleasure to read in James J. Kilpatrick's Dec. 5 column his expression of disdain for the constitutional amendments proposed by Rep. Newt Gingrich and his colleagues.

When I first read of the Contract with America, I thought, why a constitutional amendment to balance the budget?

Anyone who has ever sat through a citizenship class in high school knows that it can take a very long time to amend the Constitution.

Why spend the countless hours of debate in both houses of Congress and the years to get the amendment ratified by the states to balance the budget?

Just do it! Just continue the efforts to whittle away at the waste in government spending.

As for prayer in the schools, I was a teacher for 20 years in public schools. Never did I feel that my right to pray was inhibited by the Supreme Court.

I am a person of faith. I have plenty of opportunity to pray at home and in my place of worship.

My husband and I shared our faith with our children, and in school, when questions about religion came up, I freely shared my thoughts on the subject.

But I never felt that I, as a public school teacher, had a right to insist that my students should participate in my particular brand of devotion. I am glad to be a citizen of a nation that does not impose one form of religion on all who dwell within its borders.

Skilled journalist that he is, Mr. Kilpatrick expressed the views I hold in a much more cogent fashion than I could have.

I hope Mr. Gingrich and his ardent followers will take note of the view of this renonwed conservative.

Phyllis S. Yingling


Health and Safety Laws Work

Roger Simon makes a very convincing case for enactment of progressive laws that protect the health and safety of our citizens in his recent column "Maryland motorcycle helmet law causes a dent in statistics" (Dec. 4).

He says that Maryland's recent law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets saves both lives and taxpayers' money. As a law enforcement official and private citizen, I favor laws that protect the public's safety and health.

Mr. Simon explains that this law already reduced the number of motorcycle fatalities and saved the associated hospital costs of $146,000 to $460,000 per person.

Since most people injured in motorcycle accidents cannot afford these hospital costs, the taxpayers of Maryland must foot the bill.

The law obviously works. Yet Maryland lawmakers almost repealed the law last year when pressured by motorcycle enthusiasts from across the state.

With just a few modifications, Mr. Simon's article could describe the state government's attempt to eliminate second-hand smoke from the workplace.

The state reacted to an obvious work site safety problem when the Department of Licensing and Regulation issued the regulations requiring businesses to go smoke-free.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that second-hand smoke causes disease and death. Most Marylanders have no choice but to breathe air polluted with second-hand smoke at their workplaces. Smoking also costs Maryland's economy over $1.2 billion each year in medical costs, lost productivity and sick days for both smokers and non-smokers.

Much of this cost is picked up by you, the taxpayer. Therefore, we can assume that smoke-free air in public places would save lives and taxpayers' money.

The state went through its normal regulatory process with public comment periods and hearings. Even the Maryland legislature gave the regulation its blessing.

Unfortunately, something went wrong. The tobacco industry used its massive wealth to sue the state to stop the regulation. In essence, they stopped the government from protecting us.

The tobacco industry claimed that local businesses sponsored the lawsuit. Ask the people in Talbot County if this sounds familiar.

We recently voted for a clean indoor air law in spite of the $86,000 the tobacco industry spent to defeat our efforts. They claimed local businesses were behind the campaign here too. Yet only $400 came from local businesses. The rest came from the Tobacco Institute.

Smoke-free work sites will save Maryland precious lives and taxpayers' money. It will also greatly affect people's decision to quit smoking. This will save even more lives and taxpayers' money in Maryland.

Other states have passed laws and regulations like Maryland's. No business has gone under. No restaurant suffered. Ask California restaurateurs about smoke-free workplaces. They save money on cleaning costs, gain customers and offer their employees a safe and healthy workplace.

Hopefully the court and Gov.-elect Parris Glendening will allow the state's regulation to take effect soon. If national polls are correct, most people favor smoke-free public places.

Urge your elected officials to look at Talbot County for the answers. In spite of the large amount of money thrown our way by the tobacco industry, we still voted for clean indoor air.

The motorcycle helmet law is an important public health victory. This law works. If the regulation requiring smoke-free workplaces ever gets out of court, it will be a much greater public health victory.

Thomas G. Duncan


The writer is sheriff of Talbot County.

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