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    Letters to the Editors

    Smoke-free workplaces make healthy sense

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published August 21, 2001

    Every year, there are a million asthma attacks in children, 255,000 respiratory infections, 3,000 deaths due to lung cancer and 53,000 premature deaths due to heart disease. All are caused by secondhand smoke. It contains more than 4,000 chemicals such as cyanide, benzene, tar, polonium and arsenic. Our children are our future and our future must not be clouded by secondhand smoke. Children experience up to a million asthma attacks each year by breathing secondhand smoke. Each year between 150,000 and 300,000 respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis are caused in children and infants by secondhand smoke.

    I will vote for the constitutional amendment to make workplaces smoke-free because there are those being hurt who are old enough to breathe but not yet old enough to vote. There is no safe way to breathe secondhand smoke. It is time we took a stand and support this initiative to eliminate this health hazard in the workplace. A separate outside area far away from the many non-smokers' inhalation range can potentially be set up for people who are addicted and either unable or don't desire to quit this harmful and ultimately quite costly habit.

    Everyone knows that cigarettes are the No. 1 preventable cause of death. They kill half-a-million people in the United States each year. Do you know the No. 3 cause of preventable death? Secondhand smoke. Non-smokers are also dying from cigarettes. Secondhand smoke kills people at work, in public places and it even kills them at home. More than 5.5-million Floridians are exposed to secondhand smoke each week in workplaces. Cigarette smoke isn't just a nuisance -- it's deadly to everyone. Finally, what is the No. 1 thing we can do to reduce the No. 3 cause of preventable death? Support smoke-free workplaces and sign the Smoke-Free for Health petition.
    -- Charles Sand, M.D, emergency physician, Emergency Medical Associates of Tampa Bay, second vice president, state of Florida Heart Association, Tampa

    Greatness and drugs don't go together

    Re: Look to history for a clear view and The dismal drug war results, letters, Aug. 13.

    As a former drug abuse counselor for juveniles, there are two facts I'm certain of:

    1. Drug use, even excluding the user, is not a victimless event.

    2. Making drug use legal does not change No. 1.

    As a student of history, I believe it can be easily argued that the American civilization is the greatest that humanity has ever seen. Two of the many reasons for our greatness are:

    1. We work hard.

    2. We are educated.

    Drug use is antithetical to both of these. I don't know about the proponents of legalized drug use, but I like the fact that my country is the greatest country in the world. If I wanted to live in a country that was less than the greatest, I would emigrate to somewhere else in the world, maybe where drugs are legal. The proponents of legalized drug use should consider that option.
    -- C.D. Burns, St. Petersburg

    Government shouldn't fix prices

    While we in Florida aren't yet affected by the latest political giveaway program, we should be aware of it in that it may affect us soon, and if not, at least be outraged at our U.S. Senate.

    At the last minute, desperate to get out of town for the August recess, the Senate decided to drop its $7.5-billion farm-aid bill and adopt the $5.5-billion aid that the House passed earlier. This got the rascals out of town for now, but they will have to come back this fall and decide what to do either for or against the political blackmail that former Republican Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont wants for his cherished dairy price-control arrangement.

    The just-passed bill does not say a word about milk subsidies for Vermont dairy farmers that allow them an extra 20-plus cents per gallon profit, keeps them in business and keeps prices for consumers outrageously high in the Northeast. Efficient Midwest dairy farmers are also locked out of their special market.

    Senate Democrats were delighted when the defection of Jeffords to their party gave them control of the Senate and Tom Daschle the power of kingmaker. Now it appears that several, if not most Democrat senators are unhappy at having to face this form of legislative bribery. Although this deal doesn't go against the Democrats New Deal philosophies, it does go against many of their own special interests. Jeffords not only wants to keep this special money for his own Vermont farmers, but he is suggesting it be made applicable to a few other states as well.

    It's too bad that the issue is so wrapped up in Congress with party loyalty. The decision should be simple. Government should not fix prices, or support cartels. Government should not favor farmers over consumers. If Vermont dairy farmers can't make a profit on milk under free market competition, then there should be fewer Vermont dairy farmers. In fact, the lesser $5.5-billion farm bill is excessive. The freedom to farm must include the freedom to fail. Isn't that consistent with American capitalism?

    Let your elected Democratic senators know how you feel about this before your food bill gets any higher at the local supermarket.
    -- Sam Lasley, Clearwater

    Open markets bring trade deficits

    Re: Import quotas help a few, hurt many, Aug. 13.

    I don't know the motives of Jeff Jacoby for this misleading column, but he sure doesn't show much regard for American workers (or for our ability to arm our military). Our open markets caused huge trade deficits in manufactured goods, which closed many of our factories. This de-industrialization destroyed millions of well-paid factory jobs and well-paid service jobs that were supported by manufacturing. I believe that the wages of most Americans, corrected for true inflation, fell about 25 percent during the past 30 years.

    In opposition to protection of our manufacturers, Jacoby says, "It steals from the many to enrich the few." The only way this could be true is if "the many" are workers in foreign countries who gain from our open markets and "the few" are the 100-million or so American workers who lost wages because of our open markets. Does Jacoby think American workers are thieves because they want to avoid pay cuts?

    Jacoby says our open markets have held down the cost of living. Yes, a little, but they held down wages more. Wages for most Americans have not kept up with living costs, despite cheap imports!

    I think President Bush is correct to protect steel, but I wish he would also protect other U.S. manufacturers. I prefer old-fashioned tariffs to quotas, however. During the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, our tariffs seldom averaged less than 30 percent, and these tariffs helped us become the world's leading manufacturer.

    We shouldn't put tariffs on scarce things like oil or bananas, but if we don't protect our manufacturers, who will? Not Japan, it's too busy protecting its own.
    -- Jack Gregg, Largo

    Make a friend for life

    Re: Arnie joins the family, Aug. 13.

    I enjoyed reading Daniel Clarendon's article about the adoption of his rescued racing greyhound, Arnie. Having two adopted greyhounds of my own, as well as volunteering as a greyhound "foster mom," I concur with Daniel's assessment of greyhounds as "fantastic" pets. While they certainly have a lot to learn while making the transition from racetrack to home life, it never ceases to amaze me how resilient and loving these greyhounds are. Judging from Daniel's story, I would say that Arnie has already learned the most important lesson -- how to work his way into the hearts of his new family members.

    The rewards of adopting an ex-racer are great and every greyhound adopted is truly a life saved. Toward that end, two other local rescue organizations in addition to Greyhound Pets of America work hard to find homes for these deserving dogs. They are: Greyhound Rescue and Adoptions of Tampa Bay (GREAT) at (813) 971-4732,, and the Humane Society of North Pinellas at (727) 797-7722,

    Any one of these three groups would be happy to explain their adoption procedures to you and introduce you to the greyhounds currently awaiting homes while in their care.

    So if you are thinking about adding a four-legged member to your family, why not adopt an ex-racing greyhound -- and make a friend for life!
    -- Janet Skinner, Tampa Bay coordinator, Greyhound Protection League, Palm Harbor

    A sorry Seattle

    Re: Roads get bumpy in an aging Seattle, Aug. 13.

    I thought it was me, but this column by Fred Moody confirms my opinion about the demise of Seattle. I spent a week visiting family in the Seattle area in July and wondered where this beautiful city I had heard so much about actually was. The traffic is indeed horrid and according to residents, getting worse. The news stations were talking about 30 bridges in the Seattle area that were sure to suffer severe damage during a major earthquake. Bridges are an important part of all transportation in and around Seattle, and retrofitting all of these bridges will take many years, so traffic will be even worse during the next 10 years.

    The Seattle/Tacoma airport was the worst I've ever visited. I have a disability but had to haul my luggage for a long, painful distance, both on arrival and departure from this out-dated, dingy airport.

    One child, three teenagers and myself visited the famous Space Needle, which we had heard so much about, and an elevator ride to the observation deck cost $38. When you add the $12 parking fee, it really becomes a costly hour of questionable entertainment.

    Seattle needs a crew of traffic experts to re-plan the city's traffic patterns and a good steam-cleaning to remove the grime and mold from aging bridges and buildings. Then it might qualify as a nice, but never the best place to live. In the meantime I'll take Tampa and its great airport.
    -- Fred W. Otten, Lutz

    Plan ahead for end of life

    Re: Burn victim wishes to live, doctor says, Aug. 4.

    The Rosemary Frost tragedy is a compelling case for championing the importance of executing a document specifically stating one's wishes for care at the end of life. In this case, it is the quality of life that is the heavy burden on members of the family. Reportedly, she expressed her wishes orally to family and friends, but this is not being enforced.

    In her sedated condition is she able to understand and respond? When she mouthed "no" to a doctor, what if she thought he asked, "Do you want to live even if quality of life for you will not be the same?"

    Project GRACE (Guidelines for Resuscitation And Care at End of life) has developed an advance care plan that's easily understood, defining one's wishes in specific health conditions. It meets Florida statutes, names a health surrogate, becomes part of one's medical records for accessibility and is available free of charge. Advance care plans or advance directives are often replacing living wills because they are medically directed and legally binding.

    Every person 18 years of age and over should execute an advance care plans.

    Write to Project Grace, 1311 N Westshore Blvd. #107, Tampa, FL 33607, or call toll free (877) 994-7223 to request your free form, or visit our Web site at
    -- Gertrude Johanson, board member, Project Grace, Tampa

    Share your opinions

    Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. They can be sent by e-mail to or by fax to (727) 893-8675.

    They should be brief and must include the writer's name, address and phone number.

    Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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