Let troops light up with free cigars | Sept. 11
Tobacco 'charity' is dangerous
This Daniel Ruth column ignored an important public health reality. Since World War I, the tobacco industry has gone to great lengths to addict entire generations of our servicemen and women to their lethal products. The industry largely succeeded throughout the 20th century, and the result was a growing cancer burden among Americans. In fact, my grandfather came back from World War II addicted to cigars and died of lung cancer before my third birthday.
Even after the U.S. surgeon general concluded in 1964 that tobacco use causes cancer, the tobacco industry continued to provide free tobacco products to our troops. This was not an act of charity. Rather, it was a well thought-out marketing campaign to ensure the industry's customer base continued to grow.
In response to Ruth's claim of our troops engaging in the "modest pleasure of a cigar," he should know that cigar smokers have higher rates of lung cancer, heart disease and lung disease than nonsmokers. And male cigar smokers are up to eight times more likely than nonsmokers to die from oral cancer and 10 times more likely to die from laryngeal cancers.
It is offensive that Ruth and other reporters at the Times are attempting to validate the obvious marketing efforts of Thompson Cigar Co. under the disguise of "charity." The company is only continuing a long-standing practice of using our troops as pawns to avoid commonsense regulation of their products, which have been proven for decades to be deadly.
FDA regulation of all cigars is a crucial step toward saving lives. We should protect our military in every way possible.
Katie McMahon, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Washington, D.C.
Set up a contingency fund
It seems incongruous that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federally funded agency whose task is to protect Americans, is forced to wait, first, until Congress returns from yet another recess, and second, for the same members of Congress to act on the emergency issue at hand and not tack on unrelated components to help their re-election campaigns.
What is needed to avoid this happening again is for Congress and the White House to agree that there are critical elements in our government bureaucracy that need access to designated contingency funds for emergency situations such as this. Such funds could be accessed immediately by CDC-level staff while still subject to congressional oversight both in the budget process as well as in ongoing usage reviews.
Tapping into funds from one in-progress program (Ebola), as CDC has been compelled to do, is not a working plan.
Dr. Thomas Ignatius Hayes, St. Petersburg
Victors and spoils
Donald Trump is on to something when he says we should have taken the oil in Iraq. Rather than fight pro bono, the United States should have at a minimum taken enough oil to cover the cost of the war. In fact, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said at the time that the oil would pay for the war. Trump is correct when he says, "To the victor goes the spoils."
Expanded further, defense contractors who directly profited from the war should be slapped with a tax on their war profiteering to pay for veterans' health care.
Dan Corson, Riverview
Sleeping giant awakens
Hillary Clinton has awoken a sleeping giant by calling Donald Trump's supporters racist. I am an American, not a racist, and Clinton is a disgrace to her party and all women who strive to be great.
James Dahmer, Tampa
Quick on the trigger
I saw a clip of Donald Trump stating that he would fire on an Iranian vessel because its crew made insulting hand gestures at a U.S. vessel. I feel it is front-page news that a candidate for president would start a war with Iran because the crew of an Iranian vessel made insulting hand gestures.
John Alleman, Temple Terrace
Action, not pandering
Last week was the first time since moving to Indian Rocks Beach in 2000 that I watched the water come over our seawall. It's shocking to witness the loss of beach because a relatively minor hurricane simply passed by us. My hope is that the destructive flooding and loss of our sacred tourism amenities, along with the revolting dumping of sewage into our streams and bays, will wake up Florida's obstructionist officials.
They should follow the courageous lead of Rep. David Jolly, R-Belleair Bluffs, who was the 13th Republican to sponsor the Gibson Climate Change Resolution (HR 424) — along with two other brave South Florida Republican representatives — rather than the lack of leadership exhibited by Gov. Rick Scott's pathetic pandering to the fossil fuel industry and the "missing in action" Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who literally sloshes in water on his Miami streets during "sunny-day flooding" and pretends all is normal.
Cher Tanner, Indian Rocks Beach
The wrath of Kim | Sept. 9, commentary
For the life of me I can't understand why North Korea's generals don't pull that overgrown juvenile delinquent Kim Jong Un's pants down, paddle his behind then send him to bed without his supper. He's going to cause some major problems in the world before he even reaches puberty.
John Waitman, Palm Harbor
Column gives recipe for misery | Sept. 10, letter
Follow your hobby
You can be employed at a paying, if unfulfilling, job and still follow your passion. It's called a hobby.
Lee Burgess, St. Petersburg