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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about tobacco control, the Fed's power, market crisis in Uganda, and entitlements.

April 11, 2008



Why FDA oversight is not the best way to regulate tobacco

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Regarding your April 8 editorial, "Let the FDA oversee tobacco": Your editorial is right in principle but completely wrong on the real-world implications and ramifications of FDA regulation of the tobacco industry.

The tobacco industry, with its limitless budgets and unconstrained creativity, will turn FDA oversight into a Good Housekeeping seal of approval for cigarettes and smokeless products, even if proponents of the legislation claim it won't happen.

FDA authority will have the dual negative effects of reassuring smokers who might otherwise quit and providing new legal cover for firms that claim in court that smokers knew and assumed all the risks of consuming government-regulated products.

The tobacco industry is in grave need of control, but this should be done by a separate authority funded by industry profits. There must be a broader and deeper understanding of the fact that being a legally constituted enterprise does not confer the right to kill off one's customers – and there can be no doubt that using tobacco as recommended by the manufacturer leads directly to more than 440,000 deaths in the United States each year.

It must further be understood that the First Amendment does not confer protection to commercial speech that is deceitful, and any advertising that promotes the use of tobacco products is, by definition, duplicitous.

The time for tobacco industry regulation is now, but the FDA cannot do the job.

Stan Shatenstein
Montreal

Contributing editor, Tobacco Control

The Fed needs checks and balances

In response to the April 1 article, "A major new role for the Fed": The article asked if we are giving too much power to the Fed. I think that was a wise question, and this is one American who thinks the answer is yes. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's proposal gives too much power to the Fed.

Our Founding Fathers divided Congress and the various branches of government with a view toward protecting the people from abuse of power or faulty judgement. I propose that we have two or more branches of the Fed because we truly need an agency to monitor investment banks and hedge funds.

It might be more inefficient to have two or more branches of the Fed responsible for the economy, but it is needed in order to prevent too much power resting in the hands of an unelected few.

Tom Deaver
Charleston, S.C.

Prices are rising in Uganda

In response to the March 27 article, "Grain prices soar globally": Uganda is a landlocked country that depends on Kenya for transport of goods. After the postelection conflicts in Kenya resulted in a fuel crisis in Uganda, the cost of living in Uganda became extremely high. Almost everything ranging from produce to imports has since doubled in price and there is no organization or government plan to help arrest the situation.

The most affected are the locals who are now spending hungry nights.

There is fear that the prices will increase further.

Kyaligonza N. Mitusera
Kasese, Uganda

To fix entitlements, cut spending

Regarding the March 27 article, "Congress in no rush to fix entitlements": The solutions are easy.

Single payer universal healthcare solves present and future Medicare issues.

Social Security is just fine, the issue here is the government's wish to preserve the surplus and its subsequent use as a hidden tax.

The government needs to cut defense spending, and pay its debts to its citizens and the world.

Mark Johnson
Cleveland

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