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Friday's letters: Don't fall for Big Tobacco's ploy

Proposal restores judicial fairness | March 18, letter

Don't fall for Big Tobacco's ploy

In this letter to the Tampa Bay Times, Associated Industries of Florida urges support of a seemingly innocuous bill to change Florida's punitive damage statute. What AIF would not publicly admit is that this bill is meant to bail out only one industry — Big Tobacco.

In 1994, a class-action suit was brought against Big Tobacco for addicting the Greatest Generation to its cigarettes while concealing what it knew about the harms of smoking. These were people who started smoking before there were warnings on the packs and before Big Tobacco admitted it knew cigarettes were killers. A jury heard nearly two years of evidence and hit Big Tobacco with a $145 billion punitive damage verdict to punish it for what it did to those 700,000 Floridians.

Big Tobacco managed to drag things out for 15 years. Then it got what it asked for. The Florida Supreme Court said each family would have to file its own individual lawsuit and seek its own punitive damages. Those cases are still proceeding, 21 years after the cases were first filed, and Big Tobacco is finally being held to account for its intentional actions. Now, Big Tobacco wants to change the rules midstream — as if our laws should protect the most heinous and prolific of killers.

Big Tobacco is trying to buy its way out of this accountability "problem" by paying 100 lobbyists to pass a bill that would result in Big Tobacco being treated differently than everyone else. When AIF tries to persuade you to support such a change in the law, they should at least tell you who they're working for. That AIF would support a Big Tobacco bailout without ever mentioning Big Tobacco really says it all.

Sean Dominick, president, Citizens Against Cigarette Manufacturers, Palm Beach Gardens

Yes, I'd like fries with that | March 15

Hold the fries

It's obvious Sean Daly is trying to bring levity to declining sales at McDonald's. But he provides horrible advice to McDonald's to "lose the salads, the wraps and the complex chicken sandwiches" and go back to heavily promoting the basics like the Big Mac (530 calories, 27 grams of fat), fries (510 calories, 24 grams of fat), and the Shamrock shake (680 calories, 20 grams of fat) — a meal that totals 1,720 calories with 71 grams of fat.

This meal may be appealing to what McDonald's calls "heavy users" — customers who eat there three or more times per week. But heavy users comprise only 22 percent of McDonald's customers, showing that their regular overconsumption of extremely unhealthy foods doesn't fit into contemporary culture.

Better advice: Cut down on menu items that are nothing more than belly-bombs of fat, sugar and salt. Maybe the rest of us will visit more often.

Dewey Caruthers, Gulfport

Coke as healthy treat: fact or fizz? | March 17

Nutritional deficit

I say "fizz." Remember the elementary school demonstration of putting a piece of red meat in a glass of Coke and watching what happens in the next few days? After that, who wants to grab a "meal" of burger, fries and a Coke?

In the '80s President Ronald Reagan pronounced that ketchup was a vegetable to save money on school lunch programs. Frat and sorority houses have long promoted the mantra of "one beer: two servings of vegetables." Better health for America, with lower health care and insurance costs, begins with a fundamental commitment to better nutrition from the cradle for one and all.

Rob Dennard, Belleair Bluffs

A fight against official secrets | March 15, editorial

Openness, accountability

For almost 50 years of my practice as an attorney, the issue of public records and their availability has been discussed repeatedly. None of us objects to the addresses and other personal information of our police officers and prosecutors being confidential.

What I have never understood is why the very people who should be fighting for the release of public records are the people trying to develop more and more exemptions. Keeping as many records as possible public is the keystone to open government. It enhances the ability of the voters to determine what kind of a job those they have elected are doing.

Louis Kwall, Clearwater

Tax cuts and growth: facts versus the rhetoric | March 16, commentary

Main Street is hurting

The Marco Rubio-Mike Lee tax plan suggests eliminating the tax on capital gains and dividends for the "job creator" class. But only a percentage of these income streams are generated from job creators; many simply come from investors. Also, the mergers created with Wall Street financing can create capital gains, but they also can eliminate jobs.

If we analyze the economy, it is Main Street that is struggling financially, and that is why the demand for products and services is weak, resulting in poor GDP growth. Therefore I believe taxes should be reduced on the working class, so they have more money to spend to create a need for more products and services. This will create a need for more jobs here in America.

Jim Demmy, Kenneth City

History's harsh verdict? | March 17, letter

Obama oversteps

The letter writer was quick to take sides with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regarding the letter sent to Iran by the 47 Republican senators. I find it interesting that she is perfectly fine with a president overstepping his constitutional powers, attempting to broker a deal with a rogue, enemy nation without transparency or congressional approval.

As for the lack of foreign relations experience of the freshman senator, what is the difference between that and a community organizer/freshman senator from just a few years ago?

History will judge the eight years of Barack Obama's presidency harshly.

Gary T. Weil, Tampa