LETTERS to the Editor 

ATTACK THE PROBLEM, NOT THE POCKET

Nearly all new S.C. nicotine addicts are children or teens. Does it make sense to be principled about taxing them once hooked yet unprincipled about protecting them against a lifetime of chemical servitude? Should government feed upon their now captive dopamine pathways and see them as a dependable source of tax revenue? Does doing so create a conflict of interest in declaring all-out-war against our state's leading cause of preventable death?
The S.C. Constitution charges the General Assembly with protecting the "health, welfare and safety of the lives of the people of this State." The CDC tells us that half of all S.C. smokers are losing an average of 15.3 years of life expectancy. It is a betrayal of oath and perversion of government to tax nicotine dependency just enough to ensure a steady stream of revenue but not enough to motivate cessation or discourage youth experimentation.
Using tobacco tax revenues to diminish dependency and pay for the human carnage caused is a legitimate function of government. Relying upon and encouraging nicotine addiction as a long-term funding source is not. Imagine setting a goal of reducing S.C. youth tobacco use by 50 percent in five years and then making it happen. Now that would be leadership.

John R. Polito
Editor, WhyQuit.com

Mount Pleasant


DRAFT GRAHAM

In his January 10th column ("A Fighting Chance," Views) Michael Graham went on his usual tirade and made an incredibly uncalled for and stupid comment regarding the war in Iraq: "Plenty of good, smart people believe we can win this war, but we won't because we lack testicular fortitude."
I have one question; when is he going to put his testicles on the line as a participant in this war?

Jacquetta Jones
Charleston


BAN FAT, NOT CIGS

I don't get it. The states can ban smoking, but why aren't we banning McDonald's, Pizza Hut -- the places that drip grease all over you after taking one bite out of the food? Why aren't we making it mandatory for companies to follow certain guidelines as to how much damn fat can be in one burger? Why is it so horrible for me to smoke while enjoying music at a venue or smoking in a smoking section at a restaurant? Yes, it does/can cause health problems. But, why take away my rights and worry about what my smoke might do to you when your obesity is basically an epidemic? I am now the odd man out on both of these issues -- I smoke and I'm skinny. Damn it, I can't win!

Andrea Hannah
Summerville


GIVE THEM A BREAK

After having moved to Virginia a year and a half ago I periodically read the City Paper online. I was saddened by Nick Smith's Visual Arts article, "Framing The Year," which ran on Dec 27, 2006. To bash the Dock Street Theatre and criticize the student group show at the Halsey, and to commend a retrospective of a young artist who has not even reached the age worthy of a retrospective is all entirely irresponsible. Much hard work has gone into the art scene in Charleston over the last few years and to pull the rug out and cast support to private gallery owners is way off the mark. This kind of dismal writing is what frustrated dilettantes give us.

Gregory Brannock
Charlottesville, Va.


SMOKE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM

Way to go, Michael Graham! Your take on Will Moredock is dead-on. It's obvious he thinks government is the panacea for all issues. I'd like to see his home taken by eminent domain and see if he thinks government is still wise! It's really all about personal property rights. I don't smoke so I don't frequent restaurants that allow smoking. But as a business man, if I wish to allow smoking in my business that should be my call ... not the government's. One of my favorite examples of the "wisdom of government" is the requirement to wear a seatbelt while driving a car but no helmet requirement while riding a motorcycle!  I'm sure it makes perfect since to Moredock, but it doesn't to me. Oh well, I'm sure the government will one day make all of our decisions for us. Won't that be comforting!

Scott A. Cracraft
Mt. Pleasant


MARTIN A SMART MOVE

Earlier this week, the City of Charleston's planning director, Josh Martin, outlined his plans for simplifying the zoning codes within the City.  I would like to commend Mr. Martin for putting forth a focused effort to streamline a set of ordinances that have long been considered by many as one of the most difficult municipalities to work through in the tri-county area. Over and above the simplification of the codes, a larger opportunity exists to potentially help preserve the landscape of our community by giving more continuity to the look and feel of our city. 
The process of making such a change will be a massive task, but if it can be accomplished we must ensure that several areas of concern are considered. First, we must consider the impact of a massive rezoning process on current land owner's property values. Second, any time you make sweeping changes such as the ones suggested by Mr. Martin, the opportunity to affect citizens is inevitable. In order to minimize the negative effects of these changes, it is critical that all citizens be given a significant opportunity to be heard. Giving citizens the opportunity to participate in planning for the future of our city and providing input into simplifying the zoning codes of the city is a more sensible concept then having to mediate zoning issues once two sides are already at odds. Lastly, we must consider the implications of giving the City's planning department the ability to individually define what the landscape of our city looks like in the future. Citizen participation will ensure a thoughtful and well diversified set of plans to move our City forward.
Mr. Martin's plan of making the process easier to understand for the lay person may encourage more individuals to participate in providing input into the planning and zoning process and more clearly understand how they will be affected by new development. The concept, in theory, provides us with an opportunity to pave the way for more well defined communities, but we must to be prepared to work through the tough issues in the early years. One thing is clear; Mr. Martin's plan certainly gives us more opportunity to preserve the quaintness and charm of our city.

Gary White
Daniel Island


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