1. Archive

Tobacco's latest ad campaign is not believable

I see that the tobacco industry people have launched an aggressive advertising campaign, trying to convince the non-smoking world that they are truly the good guys. Their latest full-page ad touts their commitment to stopping teenagers from smoking. Their public relations people must really be chuckling over this one. They commit a tiny amount of money for a very limited program which won't have any meaningful impact on their sales. Then they spend millions and millions, parading this pathetic effort before the public, as "proof" that they really, truly, don't want teenagers to smoke. How cynical! How revolting!

Internal documents from the tobacco industry (documents which were never meant to see the light of public scrutiny) have discussed the necessity of creating new tobacco addicts to replace the ones they kill off every day. These documents further state that if "customers" aren't hooked by the time they're 18, they're essentially lost to the tobacco industry as potential nicotine addicts and lifetime customers.

When the tobacco industry starts spending as much money and effort on stopping teenage smoking as they do on advertisements aimed directly at teenagers, I'll believe their claims that they really don't want my children to smoke. Until then, I'll believe what the overwhelming evidence has already proved _ that the tobacco industry has no conscience. They will say anything, do anything and spend any amount of money to avoid accountability for the millions of their dead and dying customers.

William W. Douglas, St. Pete Beach

Overworked mother?

Re: Sea World's newest baby, June 19.

How thoughtful of Sea World to have a mama whale perform two hours before deliveryand Sea World didn't lose a cent for her performances.

Good show, Sea World _ and you have every concern for your animals! Right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Pauline McKune, Pinellas Park

Check that car insurance

Re: Renewing car tags will get easier, June 16.

We read with interest and concern the proposed change to the license renewal process.

What safeguard is in place to verify that the insurance carrier and policy number are valid? At least with the current requirements to supply a "copy" of the insurance card with the registration, it was required to at least "establish" coverage prior to renewal. Under the new system, the state is relying totally on the numbers supplied on the form. Will they be spot-checked in any way?

A suggestion: Why can't the inspector be required to review and validate the insurance card information against completed registration forms prior to inspection, and then initial off?

The plan seems to be a step toward efficiency, but since Florida drivers are required to carry uninsured driver coverage, the state needs to do everything possible to keep drivers insured.

Too bad insurance cards aren't bar-coded.

Jack and Janice Donahue, St. Petersburg

Use those turn signals

Living and working in the Tampa Bay area for the last 10 years, I am always amazed that people who drive on these increasingly congested roadways do not use their directional signals or allow ample time to make their turns, stops, etc. I cannot begin to tell you of the near brushes with death I have had because people fail to properly signal or pay attention to what they and others around them are doing.

Driving requires complete concentration on your surroundings and is not a time to be talking on the phone while drinking coffee and writing notes while trying to adjust your radio and drive and concentrate on traffic at the same time. Pay attention!

It doesn't matter what you do to improve your driving habits _ just do it! I am sick and tired of being cut off, turned into, and scared to death by people who do not drive responsibly and do not use a commonly provided item in their vehicles like a turn signal! It's there for a reason _ use it!

Byron T. LoPreste, St. Petersburg

An alternative fuel

Off-shore oil is not needed in Florida. Instead, we can produce ethanol on-shore. Ethanol is a proven clean-burning, renewable fuel. In Brazil all gasoline contains 22-percent ethanol, and 4.5-million automobiles run on only ethanol. Brazilian ethanol is produced from sugar cane. The use of ethanol in motor fuel is growing in the United States. Ethanol production has now grown to 1.4-billion gallons annually. The fuel is being produced in 38 plants, mostly in the upper Midwest. Corn is the feedstock.

Florida could create an ethanol industry by mandating that all gasoline sold in Florida contain 10-percent ethanol and that all state and locally owned automobile fleets run on E-95, 95-percent ethanol and 5-percent gasoline. The mandate could require that all ethanol used in Florida be manufactured here.

The addition of 10-percent ethanol would raise the price of gasoline 2 or 3 cents a gallon, a small price to pay to preserve the $40-billion tourist industry which is the mainstay of the economy of the state.

Producing ethanol in Florida would create jobs, help clean the air, reduce oil imports and save our shoreline from risk.

Harry A. Schmidt, president, Ethanol America,

St. Petersburg

Private property at sea

The June 19 front-page photo, Fight over sinking of oil platform escalates, showed how Greenpeace hurts the environment by opposing the sinking of an old oil platform. The platform would make a great artificial reef for marine life.

Greenpeace's opposition to property rights in water causes environmental harm. Harm results from soggy socialism's "tragedy of the commons" _ the neglect that results to any resource unprotected by private property rights. "Public" (state) ownership of large bodies of water has long defeated reef aquaculture and other undersea farming along with its abundant ecology.

The only way to correct the mess is with property rights. Private property rights would encourage reef owners to increase reef size and reproduction through aquaculture and scientifically aided reproduction and growth. Private property rights in water will create profit incentives for construction of better reefs for commercial Scuba diving and to improve commercial fishing and paid recreational fishing.

Government ownership of saltwater floors does not allow commercial reef construction. Even if it were allowed, there would be no profit incentive for doing so while government owned the area.

Environmentalists ignore the idea of private property rights in reefs. If the first agricultural farmers had consulted modern reef experts, they would have been advised that private property in land would not work.

Greenpeace's attitude is no better. It is a constant whine: "If only there were more regulations," "if only there were more law enforcement officers." It is such a Gestapo drone it is a comedy, made funnier by the complete blindness to the only meaningful alternative: private property rights and free market economics.

The duty of government is to recognize and protect property rights in all things, wet or dry. There is no reason private property rights should end at the water's edge.

Rex Curry, Tampa

God bless Scott O'Grady

Every military veteran who has been in combat felt the sickening twinge of pain and fear upon hearing the news earlier this month that U.S. Air Force Capt. Scott O'Grady was missing over Bosnia.

All Americans and, I believe, especially veterans rejoiced when this young man was returned safely after being shot down.

It made us proud when Capt. O'Grady demonstrated all those traits which we hold so dear. He thanked God for his safe return. He said he heard every prayer offered while he clung to hope and evaded his would-be captors.

He accepted no glory for himself but told us that we should look to the Marines and sailors who came to his rescue if we were looking for heroes. He said he never doubted his nation would do everything possible to get him back. And he knew that his family and fellow pilots would never lose faith or abandon him.

I was deeply touched when he asked everyone to remember to walk up to every veteran and say "thank you." For he knows that every veteran has been on the line for all of us.

Capt. O'Grady may not think of himself as a hero, but he certainly represents what I believe to be true. He is one of the millions of Americans who believe so strongly in America and the freedoms it represents that they have dedicated themselves to our nation's defense.

I say God bless Scott O'Grady and God bless all our service members, past and present.

Laurence M. Christman, Lt. Col, U.S. Army (retired), Indian Rocks Beach

It was gratifying to me _ a retired naval aviator _ to read the generous press reports about Capt. Scott O'Grady's adventures. I was a little disappointed, however, that so many writers seemed surprised at his charm and humility.

I sense that there are still many people out there who regard military officers as Capt. Queegs, Dr. Strangeloves or the ever-popular Rambo. I have never met any of those types during my 30 years in the military. On the other hand, I have known many John Waynes, Henry Fondas and Tom Hankses (not his Forrest Gump character, however).

People seem fascinated by the survival training course that all military aviators must complete. I don't recall anything as tasty as an ant and grass salad, but the Air Force always ate better than the Navy. To tell the truth, I don't remember what I ate. Why should I? I was never going to order it again anyway.

Now, who is going to break the news to Capt. O'Grady that his flying career has ended? After the week he has had, he will be spending the rest of his career in public relations.

Hal Potter, St. Petersburg

A male perspective

The June 21 Times included a column called "In This Corner" by Susan Reimer and titled, This is what men call friendship? As both a man and a person working in the general field of relationships, I am totally offended by the misinformation that was printed as advice in this column. What are Reimer's credentials? Has she read anything by authors regarding the Men's Movement, such as Robert Bly, Sam Keen and others? Is she even aware of the differences that are described in books such as Men Are From Mars; Women Are From Venus?

The male mode of feeling is quite different from the female mode, and Reimer appears to have no clue as to these differences. I would never advise women to take on the male mode of feeling and I am outraged when women expect men and boys to take on the female mode. Her perspective on the issue she expresses should be left in the dust of the 1960s and not in a contemporary newspaper.

Glenn Anderson, St. Petersburg

Protecting law officers

Re: Tackett safety act is signed into law, June 17.

I am very happy about the Jeffery Tackett safety act being signed into law.

If this law had been enacted sooner, Jeffery Tackett would be alive today.

We must do everything to protect our law enforcement officers.

Virginia Celmer, Holiday

Share your opinions

We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731.

They can be sent by E-mail to or they can be sent by fax to 893-8675.

They should be brief and must include the writer's address and phone number. Please include a handwritten signature when possible.