The Baltimore Sun

As a resident of a county that has not gone smoke-free, I am elated that this may be the year the state moves to improve my health and protect the health of my neighbors ("House panel hears 2 sides on smoking," March 8)

Unfortunately, Harford County has not joined the diverse parade of jurisdictions that have reviewed the science, weighed the arguments and concluded that protecting all workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke is the healthy, cost-effective and just thing to do.

Consequently, my neighbors and I depend on the state to provide us this protection.

As a retired businessman, I also empathize with the efforts of restaurant and bar owners to protect their bottom line.

However, when this concern is juxtaposed against more than 1,000 deaths of nonsmokers caused every year in Maryland by secondhand smoke, the arguments against a smoking ban bottom out.

By exempting the hospitality industry from the statewide smoking restrictions passed more than 10 years ago, Maryland effectively created an industry that is disproportionately dependent on smokers and whose employees and patrons are disproportionately killed and sickened by secondhand smoke.

A statewide smoking ban would correct this mistake, and many of my neighbors would be the healthier for it.

David T. Snyder

Bel Air

The writer is board chairman of the American Lung Association of Maryland.

Keep schools out of sex education

The pilot program in Montgomery County public schools to teach middle-schoolers about homosexuality should be deeply disturbing to all parents ("Sex ed revised for the times," March 8).

It's bad enough that as a culture, we've abdicated to the schools the responsibility of teaching our children about sexual morality, which is in many ways at the heart of family life.

But this is insane.

What moral authority do public schools have to be teaching our youths about such things?

The proponents of such programs repeatedly say something along the lines of "that's reality" or "kids need to know."

Well, should we take this to its logical conclusion and be equal opportunity corrupters of innocence - and teach children about prostitution, adultery, pedophilia and polygamy while we're at it?

That's all part of reality too, after all.

But in public schools with no moral foundation, where you check your Bible at the door, do we really want them teaching our children about sex?

Wake up parents, and take your children back.

Joseph Melchor


Teaching tolerance opens eyes, hearts

I applaud the Montgomery County public school system for revising its sex education program to include positive information about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people ("Sex ed revised for the times," March 8).

The function of schools is to open students' eyes, hearts and minds about the whole world.

And whether we like it or not, gay children and children who have gay parents attend our schools.

Students need to see that our society is a complex and diverse place, and to become better prepared for a world that has gay doctors, bankers, soldiers, teachers and gay people in every facet of their lives.

Montgomery County students will now be better people for learning in a safe school setting to celebrate diversity.

I hope all school systems adopt this curriculum.

Colette Roberts


The writer is chairman of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of Columbia and Howard County.

The truth may hurt firefighter's career

Because a city Fire Department captain spoke the truth, he stands to be punished for violating procedures ("Fire captain might be punished," March 13).

The truth does hurt. But in this case, it looks like it doesn't set one free.

McNair Taylor


Survey shows little support for tower

I do not think the survey conducted by the writer of the letter "Canton residents didn't oppose tower" (March 6) shows anything at all about support for the Icon project.

A response rate of 14 percent (or nine of 64 surveys returned) does not provide enough information to reach any conclusions, except perhaps about apathy in responding.

And indeed, 56 percent of his respondents opposed the project.

A tiny poll of Northshore residents certainly does not speak for all Canton residents.

This past summer, a similar poll was performed at the Anchorage Tower Condominiums, where there are 94 units.

Our response rate was a little better - 39 percent.

Of the returned surveys, only six supported the project (16 percent) while 29 (78 percent) were opposed and two respondents had no opinion.

Beverly A. Collins


The writer is a former president of the Anchorage Tower Condominium Association.

Nuclear plants help ease warming trend

The new nuclear plant discussed in The Sun's article "Proposed second nuclear plant is called dangerous and a burden" (March 7) is a very encouraging development.

The threat of global warming is real and serious, although its effects may not be fully felt for generations. However, now is the time to act to prevent its most harmful effects.

The real culprit in poisoning the atmosphere is our use of fossil fuels - especially oil and coal. The only way to produce large amounts of power without pouring more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is to use nuclear power.

Our need for electricity is constantly growing. Now is the time to plan for our children and grandchildren.

The facts clearly show that the safety and environmental record of Western nuclear power is outstanding.

The risks of conventional fossil-fuel power stations are considerably greater than the risks of nuclear power.

And anyone who believes that renewable sources such as solar power, wind energy and biomass are the answers is living in a dream world.

Bernard Siegel


Find faster ways to execute killers

I can only imagine how our brave police officers and correctional officers would feel if they knew that they were putting their very lives on the line each time they went to work but that should a killer decide to take their lives, that killer, by law, would always have the right to live out his life in prison, no matter how cold-blooded or vicious his crime ("Law enforcers oppose death penalty," March 14).

And if part of the issue for death penalty foes is money, maybe this is where our legislators should focus.

They should try to figure out how to get the system to proceed more efficiently and have death sentences carried out as dictated by our judicial process, not drag out for years on end with appeal after appeal.

Eula M. Marshall


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