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Boosting tobacco tax would curb smoking by...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Boosting tobacco tax would curb smoking by children, 0) adults

The Maryland legislature will have an unparalleled opportunity in 1999 to decrease cancer death rates by passing the Maryland Children's Initiative to raise the state's tobacco excise tax by $1.50 over a three-year period.

A considerable body of research documents what all of us know from our own experiences: As the price of an item rises, its consumption decreases. Raising tobacco excise taxes means that many smokers would quit, and others would smoke fewer cigarettes. Youths, who have less disposable income than adults, are more likely to quit or never start in the first place.

About one-third of Maryland's cancer deaths are caused by tobacco products. Yet 20 percent of Maryland adults and 30 percent of Maryland high school students still smoke. These individuals are playing with fire.

Half of all long-term smokers will die from smoking-related illnesses, and one in four smokers will die in middle age, losing 20 to 25 years of normal life expectancy.

Tragically, in contrast to many types of cancers for which a cure is not known, cancer deaths caused by tobacco use are entirely preventable.

The Maryland Children's Initiative has the support of more than 300 community groups from across the state, as well as the support of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and nearly 100 members of the Maryland legislature.

Marylanders are weary of the dubious distinction of being among the nation's leaders in cancer deaths. I urge our state legislators to support this timely, common-sense measure.

Simply put, raising tobacco taxes will save thousands of Maryland citizens from preventable, premature death and their loved ones from unnecessary suffering.

Christian H. Poindexter

Baltimore

The writer is chairman of the Maryland State Council on Cancer Control and chairman and chief executive officer of Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

No more 'politically correct' to cut doubletalk in 1999

In an effort to end the age of endless double-talk, wouldn't it be great if in 1999 the term "politically correct" would be replaced by the more discerning "academically accurate"?

Paul Fenchak

Lutherville

Sun's sensitive coverage of controversial treatment

I was heartened to read Patricia Meisol's informative article "A shock to the system" (Dec. 28) on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in the Today section.

As a former center director for Sheppard Pratt Hospital, I personally witnessed the remarkable curative effects of ECT on severely depressed individuals. Unfortunately, I was also privy to the opinions of many patients and family members who openly declared that they or their family members were not going to get any of those "shock treatments" that would "fry their brains."

Ignorance can only be eradicated through public awareness and education. I thank The Sun for its sensitive coverage of such a controversial treatment.

Valerie Verrecchio

Lutherville

KAL's cartoon could start overpopulation discussion

Could it be that at least one of your staff recognizes world population growth as a serious problem? KAL's perceptive Dec. 27 cartoon, showing a straining and groaning planet one millennium from now is allowed the license of being perhaps just a little removed from reality.

Long before the year 3000, humans on this planet will surely be facing horrendous demographic concerns, or overpopulation catastrophes of the apocalyptic kind.

There's a big block of people such as me who believe in this pessimistic outlook but probably an even bigger group that ignores or disbelieves basic facts of biology, society and limited resources. They think God's mercy or the clever human brain will somehow overcome.

KAL's message inspired a dreamy wish as I went to the next page and read Barry Rascovar's column on Gov. Glendening's legacy. I thought of how brave and correct it would have been if our governor had listed as one of his priorities an honest discussion of this state's growth problems. Not in the usual way of patching up the suburban sprawl symptoms by the futile delaying tactic of "smart growth," but by actually saying out loud the nasty words "controlling population growth."

But a governor and his governed (including those who in the short term are benefiting from growth) are concerned with what lies, at most, five years ahead.

I think it is The Sun's duty to bring forward the views of those of us who think that the many facets of overpopulation must be discussed rationally.

Nelson L. Hyman

Randallstown

Official's remark on trout shows disrespect for beauty

In the article on trout ("Small fish fuel big debate," Dec. 28), you quoted Baltimore County Planning Director Arnold F. "Pat" Keller as saying, "Posturing by residents who don't want their views marred by development demeans the trout."

This quote reveals the general disrespect that the Ruppersberger administration has for scenery and the beauty of the county. If a person does not have the right and duty to try to protect the view and beauty around him or her, there is no hope for us. There are no specific laws in the county to prevent sprawl and ugliness, and it seems the county powers are glad to keep it that way. So any means are sought by residents who care.

Besides, I am sure a trout would rather be used as a means of saving this beautiful county than simply being eaten.

Doug Carroll

Lutherville

Government's first job is safety, not schools

Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger states: "The jail issue is important, but funding for the schools is going to have to be a higher priority." ("Money for jail may go to vote," Dec. 20).

I strongly disagree. Government's No. 1 job is to protect its citizens.

The Baltimore County jail population has doubled in 10 years and is already 24 percent over capacity.

News reports often discuss the critical lack of jail cells. While judges hand out sentences, the criminal justice system lets criminals go free because of lack of space.

Often, when the jail has no space, the alternative is plea bargaining, probation and parole, all of which make our neighborhoods unsafe.

Frank A. Sume

Baltimore

Reading the newspaper still brings a stain

Before retrieving The Sun from my doorstep each morning, I put on black cotton gloves. When the coffee has brewed, I am ready to read the local and world news (funnies first); I don the gloves again.

After rolling up my long-sleeve blouse, nightgown or sweater, I tie the strings of an ample apron to cover areas that could become contaminated by inky sludge from the newspaper's surface.

I used to sit on a sofa, placing the sections I finished reading in a neat pile next to me. This necessitated expensive reupholstering of the sofa. Then I placed completed sections on the rug by my feet. The beige rug developed a permanent gray area at that spot.

Now, I sit in a straight, wooden chair to read, and I drop completed sections of the newspaper on the wooden floor.

Why can't newspapers use indelible ink?

Gwen Locke Gibson

Towson

Pub Date: 1/01/99

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