They're Not Serious
Your two-page Philip Morris ad on June 29 introduced its "Action Against Access" program, which would ostensibly control the growing problem of childhood and teen-age addiction to tobacco.
Tobacco companies have periodically run newspaper ads publicly proclaiming their opposition to youthful smoking since 1964. What's new is that this proclamation touts licensing of tobacco vendors, an end to free sampling of cigarettes and a number of the very same measures that tobacco lobbyists have bitterly opposed and defeated in state legislatures for years.
Has Philip Morris suddenly developed a conscience? It would be surprising if this or any tobacco company truly attempted to address the problem of childhood tobacco addiction.
The tobacco executives are acutely aware of the importance of youthful smokers as the economic underpinning of their industry.
They know as well as we do that every year 70 percent of all new smokers in this high turnover industry come from the ranks of minors under age 18.
They know as well as we do that if minors didn't smoke, the industry would eventually collapse.
But tobacco executives also know that winning their battle against public health advocates requires a public relations program to convince the public that they care about children.
This was the reason for the "We Don't Want Kids To Smoke" ads in the mid '80s.
This was the reason for the Tobacco Institute's glossy "Helping Youth Say No" pamphlet in 1990, in which the only reason given that kids shouldn't smoke was that, like getting married or driving a car, smoking is an "adult custom."
The timing of the Philip Morris campaign, as well as a similar R.J. Reynolds public relations effort, coincides with the Food and Drug Administration's plans to introduce the first-ever regulations of the marketing and promotion of tobacco in order to protect minors.
The industry, whose products are by far the No. 1 cause of avoidable death in our society, is softening up public opinion in an eleventh-hour attempt to derail these overdue regulations.
It is simply a question of who do you trust to protect children from tobacco -- FDA Chairman David Kessler or Camel Joe and the Marlboro Man? Most people understand that we shouldn't let the fox guard the henhouse.
!J. Richard Lilly, M.D.
The writer is president of the Maryland State Medical Society.
The Alliance of Catholic Women, a grass roots organization of individual members and other Catholic women's organizations, wish to express our outrage with The Sun for printing columnist Garry Wills' sarcastic, scurrilous attack on our beloved Pope John Paul II and his magnanimously sensitive letter to the women of the world issued July 10 ("The Pope Praises Women," July 18).
No other religious leader in the world is castigated and maligned by the media as is this saintly man, who has demonstrated by word and deed his appreciation of and admiration for women.
The Sun and Mr. Wills have stooped to the lowest of the low. A public apology to the pope, to the Catholic Church and to women who love the holy father is in order.
In the name of justice and respect, we demand that The Sun provide an opportunity to present our perspective on the pope's letter to women.
The headline on Mr. Wills' article was correct.
Unfortunately, the content of the article discloses the confused mind of an angry person who has no ethics or sense of propriety.
Loretta J. Hoffman
The writer is director of the Alliance of Catholic Women.
We Can't Give Up Our Freedom
Recently, I've developed somewhat of a fear of flying. So when an old friend invited me to Florida for the Fourth of July, I had a decision to make: the train or the bus?
I chose the bus. My trip down from Baltimore was uneventful enough. My trip back was a constitutional nightmare.
At 6:45 a.m. on July 11, I learned just how the war on drugs is colliding with the Constitution. My bus was greeted in Fayetteville, N.C., by drug-sniffing dogs and a horde of narcotic agents from the Fayetteville Police Department.
The police boarded the bus and asked politely enough to conduct drug and weapon searches of the passengers and their on-board luggage. The dogs were already searching the underside of the bus.
Most of the passengers, most of them poor and intimidated by the police presence, handed over their belongings to be searched.
I was exhausted and in a strange city and, like most of my fellow passengers, simply wanted to get home after a long, exhausting ride from Florida.
When the police reached my seat near the end of the bus, I had a decision to make. I decided not to cooperate with what I saw as something right out of Nazi Germany. I would not allow them to search my bag.
I was then told that I looked like a "nice guy" and didn't I know there was a "war" on in the country against "drugs and the bad guys"?
I told them, war or no war, there was something called the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment, and that was that.
Sadly, I was the only person who resisted that unreasonable search. After we departed, I got to thinking as I watched the countryside and highways of my beloved country: What has happened to us?
Slowly but surely basic freedoms -- that I took for granted growing up in what I see as the world's best experiment in democracy and individual liberty -- are being tested and tried as never before.
In our rush to solve some of our most dire social ills, are we really prepared to throw out the baby with the bath water? I hope not.
While I don't suppose I have all the answers to these pressing social problems, I certainly know that harassing law-abiding citizens returning from a celebration of our country's independence and majesty is wrong.
God bless America.
John P. Quinn
France vs. Greenpeace
Philip Terzian's "disproportionate" use of generalities in his July 17 commentary, "Extortion Doesn't Pay, For Once," was as alarming as his accusations against Greenpeace.
To say that Greenpeace supplied a rationale for letter bombs to Shell Oil Co., followed by his unrelated reference to the Oklahoma City bombing, is an irresponsible generality.
Additionally, the statement that France's four decades of underground nuclear tests have had no ill effects is incredibly naive.
Mr. Terzian should re-examine his standards of who is the terrorist and ask what goal France has for its tests.
Greenpeace's motive is not the destruction of anything, least of all the earth, whether above ground or underground.
If Mr. Terzian wanted to discredit Greenpeace, his comparative data was deficient.
Joyce C. Robinson
In his July 17 Opinion * Commentary article, "Extortion Doesn't Pay, for Once," Philip Terzian praises the French government for the storming of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior II.
He gushes with pleasure that the seizure took place on the 10th anniversary of the assault on the original Rainbow Warrior, in which French commandos invaded New Zealand in a pre-dawn raid and killed a photographer while sinking the Greenpeace ship.
His contention is that Greenpeace is guilty of extortion for protesting a planned French nuclear explosion in the South Pacific.
Mr. Terzian also discusses the recent decision by Royal Dutch Shell to shelve plans to dump a drilling rig in the North Sea in response to a public opinion campaign by Greenpeace and many others. He fails to mention that the rig's ballast consists of tons of oil-contaminated sludge.
More importantly, he fails to recognize that even if some corporations don't like it, citizens of free societies have the right to open discussions of issues which could affect the public health and economy.
The freedom to oppose the misguided if not malicious actions of a despot was at the root of the American as well as French revolutions.
The right to continue to oppose such abuses was supposed to have been the fruit of those struggles.
Mr. Terzian's basic argument seems to be that anyone who opposes the policies of a government or corporation is a criminal. This is a truly conservative position. It precludes all change.
Anyone who differs with the ruling party will be arrested. Whistle blowers will be fired, critics sued. I'm not sure how any elections could be held if all criticism of incumbents is to be considered extortion.
The French government has ignored the protests of Australia, New Zealand and other South Pacific nations against its planned series of nuclear explosions. Why are the explosions going on?
Do the French really think their bombs won't work? Are they planning to use them against someone? If the tests are so safe, why are they being held thousands of miles from France?
Are we supposed to have special forbearance for the French government because it is especially trustworthy?
When the two French army officers who blew up the Rainbow Warrior were convicted of murder in New Zealand, the French government petitioned for their transfer to a French prison in the South Pacific, agreeing to keep them in prison for the remainder of their terms.
After their transfer, years before their sentences were to have ended, the French military flew the convicted murderers home to a hero's welcome.
As the French government prepares to play with toys of mass destruction despite the complaints of neighbors, it reminds me of a bully picking on smaller kids for no reason except to get away with it.
Did Greenpeace threaten a tear gas attack by machine gun-toting commandos? Did it threaten to blow up a French yacht? Did it threaten to explode a nuclear bomb?
Exactly who is the extortionist here?