Smoking ban, pet and prison issues stir readers up

The Baltimore Sun

It's always interesting to see what articles attract attention from readers. In recent days two subjects have generated the most interest; smoking and pets in bars and restaurants and the closings of the maximum-security prison at Jessup and a juvenile offender facility in CarrollCounty.

On Tuesday The Sun reported that a state Senate panel had given preliminary approval to a ban on smoking in bars and resturants following Baltimore City, where a similar ban was enacted in February. By late in the week the bill was being debated in Senate and the House. Readers responded vigorously.

Gregory Ricas said: "Undoubtedly with the approval of the new smoking ban, the Baltimore City Council feels they have scored a major coup that places them with Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles as the latest among the 'trendy elite' to jump on the non-smoking bandwagon. ... My question to all is, simply, where does it stop? Seat belt laws, helmet laws, 'gun control.' Red light cameras, surveillance cameras on every intersection, and now city, countywide and possible statewide smoking bans. What will it be the next time - the cheeseburger?"

From John Crouse: "Since Baltimore City is free of drugs and crime, our esteemed City Council has turned to our health. Since drinking tequila and vodka is so good for us, let's ban smoking. Brilliant!"

Said William Beck: "I fully favor a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. I have no problem with those that want to pollute their lungs in the privacy of their own homes, but I choose to breathe air free of cigarette smoke in public."

On March 16, The Sun's Tricia Bishop reported on the several recent cases of city health officials enforcing laws that ban pets, especially dogs, from bars and restaurants. The most prominent example was banishment of a bar owner's dog.

Reader Dave Tancibok said: "I read your story and have a suggestion for the owner. He should purchase a life-sized stuffed dog and place it in his bar with a sign around his neck: 'Dog Haters - We Don't Want Your Business.' "

From Janette Sellman: "I feel sorry for restaurant and bar owners. There is nothing wrong with the owners deciding for themselves about pets. After all, they are the ones paying the bills."

Said Connie Brookhaus: "I love dogs but do not want to eat dinner or have a drink with one. At least not yet."

The Sun reported on last Sunday's front page that the state of Maryland had begun closing down the 128-year-old House of Correction in Jessup, a maximum-security prison where a corrections officer was killed last year amid increasing violence among inmates. The newspaper also reported that day on how overcrowding at Bowling Brook Preparatory School, a privately run reformatory for juvenile offenders, made it almost impossible to manage. Earlier reporting by The Sun's Greg Garland and Gadi Dechter on conditions at Bowling Brook spurred investigations and led to its closing.

Reader Larry Lawson on the Jessup prison story: "We are moving all our violent prisoners to other prisons within the state and transferring some out of state where we will pay a per-diem for use of their prisons. I am thankful that our prison officers are out of harm's way, but this seems to be a large increase to our state budget."

Tom Welliver on the Bowling Brook reporting: "While I am not thrilled by the findings of your investigation, I really appreciate your fair journalism. It was clear you didn't initiate this with a biased opinion and did an admirable job trying to balance your research. Thanks again."

Paul Moore's column appears Sundays.

Readers who have concerns or comments may contact The Sun's public editor at 410-332-6364 or toll-free at 800-829-8000, ext. 6364; by fax at 410-783-2502; or by e-mail at

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