Ride companies under county scrutiny | Aug. 2
Support transport innovations
As a citizen of Hillsborough County, I am thoroughly disappointed in the reaction to ride-sharing services by the Public Transportation Commission. Fighting innovation in the transportation industry is a losing battle.
The ride-sharing startups are willing to work with the PTC and negotiate a reasonable end to legal challenges, but when I hear only specious talking points from the PTC such as claiming that ride-sharing is less safe than taxis or that taxis are required by law to pick up in any location in the service area — while the PTC simultaneously ignores the multitude of reports of taxi drivers never picking up scheduled riders or turning down a passenger at the end of the night because the ride is not "on the way home" — it reveals that the commission does not have the passengers' best interests in mind.
The ride-sharing services allow both the driver and the passenger to rate the other, thereby removing bad actors. Background checks are performed and vehicles inspected. Insurance is provided by the ride-sharing service.
I propose that the PTC take a progressive stance, like the California Public Utilities Commission did, and initiate an interim agreement with ride-sharing services to evaluate how they can operate in Tampa and create reasonable regulations to keep both passengers and drivers safe while ushering in the next era of public transportation.
Daniel Milian, Tampa
Advocate: Fears of marijuana vote unfounded | Aug. 29
Medical pot saves lives
CNN reported on a study that concluded that in 2010, states with legal medical marijuana experienced 1,700 fewer deaths (a drop of 24.8 percent) by opioid overdose than would have been expected. This is because medical marijuana, effective in combating intractable pain, does not — unlike legally prescribed opioids — kill at increased dosages.
I looked at some census numbers and estimated that 85 million people lived in states with legal medical marijuana by 2010. Counting all the states that have legalized since then and assuming all ballot petitions pass, that number could become 197 million by the end of this year. Keeping the same ratio, this could save 3,940 lives per year. That's more than a 9/11 every year.
Remember our national unity after 9/11: the demand that this would never happen again, the flags everywhere, the Patriot Act passed in a rush, and a decade of war. And yet to keep marijuana from saving more than that many American lives, every single year, we still pursue the failed four-decade war on drugs. Why?
Ray Williamson, New Port Richey
Protect Tampa cigars | July 11, editorial
Spotlight on cigar struggle
On behalf of our 130 employees and the entire "Cigar City" of Tampa, I want to thank the Tampa Bay Times for covering our struggle to prevent the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from regulating Tampa's last operating cigar factory out of business.
Your wonderful and compelling stories and editorials are now part of the official FDA review record. It will take the agency six to nine months to make their final ruling. I don't know how all this is going to work out, but I have never been more proud of our community. The way that so many Tampa and St. Petersburg residents have joined us in our battle is so gratifying.
Thank you again for bringing a spotlight to this issue. In your news coverage and editorials, the Tampa Bay Times has been a champion for our community.
The last time Tampa was without an operating cigar factory, its population was only about 700. That was quite a long time ago — we are hopeful that it won't happen again.
Eric M. Newman, president, J.C. Newman Cigar Co., Tampa
Dead heat race officially starts | Aug. 27
Adam Smith writes about the negativity to expect for the next 70 days in the governor's race. Apparently he does not read his own newspaper. The negativity against Rick Scott in the Times began four years ago, the day after he was inaugurated.
Edward F. Day, New Port Richey
Cops: We had speeding ticket quota | Aug. 29
Speed trap warning
A few years ago I was driving through Waldo, observing the speed limit. A cruiser pulled behind me with his bright lights on, literally a foot from my bumper, baiting me to speed and followed me all the way through town. I wrote a letter detailing this incident to the city, county and governor's office and received back only a form letter from the state saying there was nothing they could do. Kudos to the Times for exposing this nonsense.
Jeff Francis, St. Petersburg
Cigarettes off the shelves
Last week I noticed that my local CVS had cleared its shelves of tobacco. The so-called tobacco "power wall" perfected over decades by Big Tobacco marketing experts is gone. That's because CVS Caremark is the first national pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco, pledging to do so by October. Despite reports of the chain losing out on $2 billion annually, it has stayed the course.
This year, the U.S. Surgeon General issued its 50th anniversary report on smoking. It reminds us that over 20 million Americans have died from smoking since the first report in 1964 and hundreds of thousands of lives are prematurely lost annually from smoking. The report concludes, "The tobacco epidemic was initiated and has been sustained by the aggressive strategies of the tobacco industry, which has deliberately misled the public on the risks of smoking cigarettes."
Let's hope other major companies follow suit to end the catastrophic impact cigarettes and tobacco products have on our society.
Eric Rosen, Fort Lauderdale