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Published: Sunday, 2/9/2003

Smoking ban initiative needn't wait

I wholeheartedly second a recent letter to the editor and The Blade editorial advocating a statewide smoking ban. I was the driving force behind the Bowling Green Clean Indoor Air Act, which has provided smoke-free atmospheres in most public places. Businesses in Bowling Green never lost business as a result of providing clean air.

I know of many Toledo residents who come to Bowling Green to eat at our restaurants to enjoy clean air. Restaurant associations throughout the country are now endorsing smoking bans, recognizing the health and financial benefits to business.

I can attest to the fact that having exceptions in a clean air law does not work, as we have seen here in Bowling Green. Exceptions are abused and extended to businesses to which they clearly don't apply. The only option is a comprehensive ban.

I, too, commend Mayor Jack Ford for doing the right thing and standing up for what is right. I am disturbed by Louis Escobar's comments that a task force is required. It is not, and any genuine interest in protecting the public health is outweighed by his dilatory tactics. It is undisputed that second-hand smoke kills and equally undisputed that business revenue does not decline. There is no reason not to enact clean air legislation this very minute.

Like The Blade's editorial, I, too, wonder why the national heart, lung, cancer, and medical associations have not acted. I wonder why Tobacco Free Ohio has not acted.

A statewide smoking ban in Ohio is a paramount goal for all of these organizations. Their inaction causes concern given the recent overwhelming vote in favor of Florida's constitutional clean air amendment.

I will not wait for Mr. Escobar to act, or for piecemeal legislation to be enacted sporadically throughout Ohio. I will not wait for any national or state organization to take the lead. I will begin planning an initiative drive to place a constitutional clean air amendment on the November, 2004, ballot, and I invite others to join me.

ANDREW R. SCHUMAN

Bowling Green

I think that a smoking ban in Toledo would be an excellent idea. I have a number of friends in Maumee and Sylvania who own retail businesses and they could certainly use this windfall.

Besides, just because a small business owner mortgages his/her future and invests his money into a business is no reason to allow him to decide whether people should be allowed to legally smoke in it.

As a lifelong Democrat I am beginning to see what the Republicans mean when they speak of intrusive government. There are many restaurants that do not allow smoking right now and they are doing just fine.

Maybe letting the free enterprise system work strikes The Blade as a novel idea, but it has worked in this country fairly well for some time.

HAL R. SIMON

Maumee

I guess if you really need to smoke it is OK. But why should I have to breathe your smoke when I go to a restaurant or other public place? I guess I could stay home to remain smoke-free. But that would give you more rights than me, and as Carty would say: “That's just not right.”

W.B. MORAN

Wendover Drive

The United States is preparing to invade Iraq. Verbal threats are made by the U.S. government almost daily, and many thousands of reserve troops have been called up and are being deployed in the Middle East.

No one doubts that the current Iraqi government is a brutal, repressive regime, like so many others on planet Earth. Even if it is not a threat to its neighbors, it is certainly a threat to its citizens.

How should we deal with the problem of evil in the world? As Martin Luther King, Jr., said, darkness cannot drive out darkness - only light can do that. Violence and repression are not the best ways to change a violent and repressive regime.

Our government has choices to make. Indeed, the Bush Administration is choosing diplomatic means with North Korea, whose actions are at least as threatening to the world and whose government is at least as repressive as Iraq's. Nonviolent tactics brought an end to communism in Eastern Europe and the then-USSR, apartheid in South Africa, and Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia.

We support the thousands of marchers who go to Washington, D.C. to call for peace, as well as the thousands of religious and secular people who are working locally for peace. We call today for our government to act on our best values - promoting peace, democracy, and the rule of law - not a pre-emptive first attack policy that promotes the value of might makes right.

The United States must work with the international community to find nonviolent ways of addressing the problem of Iraq. A U.S. attack on Iraq goes against our values and our faith. We must all do what we can to oppose it.

MARC and MARIA SIMON

Bowling Green

I read with interest the front-page article about the various gifts given by pharmaceutical sales representatives to physicians. Of particular interest was the photo of a local physician sitting by a table full of promotional “gifts” given to him by sales reps. Hopefully everyone noticed that each item on the table was something akin to a relatively worthless plastic pen or ceramic coffee mug.

Does The Blade actually think that anyone in the general populace or even the affected doctors believe that any doctor's opinion about what drug to prescribe is influenced by these cheap gifts? Can the rising prices of drugs actually be blamed on these cheap promotional items?

Most physicians' prescription-related decisions are influenced solely by the drug's efficacy and his or her patient's past experiences/successes with the drug. Doesn't the doctor's own success and survival also depend on that?

Another issue not addressed fairly was the fact that pharmaceutical companies are not unlike any other business that must operate profitably in order to serve its customers and to develop new and improved products. Providing promotional items and educational items to doctors are necessary aspects of this business. I have yet to see any uproar or front-page articles about the barrage of advertising and promotional efforts expended by, for example, automobile manufacturers and food producers. And, no, I am not a pharmaceutical rep.

The delivery of health-care services is understandably germane and necessary to our survival and well being. Consequently, some may have been shocked to learn that decisions regarding prescriptions may be influenced by the gifts given to physicians, even if such gifts are relatively worthless plastic or ceramic items. In the end, we must use common sense and look closely at the particular gifts as well as the big picture.

MICHAEL S. JONES

Holland

In reply to a letter published a while back, let me set things straight about the opening of Scott High School. In September, 1912, the school was still under construction. In September, 1913, it opened its doors. (My father was in the first entering freshman class.) In June, 1914, it held its first graduation.

Yes, in June, 1963, the 50th class graduated from Scott High. It's just a matter of counting from 14 to 63 inclusive to come out with the number 50.

ED WEBER

Maumee

Scott High School Class of 1949

Rather than saddle select groups with tax increases (sin taxes), why not put a “piggyback tax” of 1 percent on top of all the current taxes? Not only would this be fair but far more lucrative for the tax collector.

WILLIAM A. GORSUCH

Delta



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