New Tactics for the Drug 'War'

The Page 1 article "Journey From Addict to Drug Czar" (March 31) reported the opinion of Boston's Kattie Portis that it is time to shift our emphasis away from law enforcement in order to become more effective in reducing the use of drugs. Ms. Portis makes a lot of sense and the author is to be congratulated for her article.

My heart is torn apart by the problem of drug addiction. It has affected my family, and I have cared enough about this problem to become active in prison ministry and in work for the homeless. If I thought the "war" had a chance, I would cry out in glee.

My concern is that we are wasting our tax money without any appreciable effect on the drug problem. I believe we could be far more effective if we:

* Require that all vendors of mind-altering substances, including alcohol and cigarettes, have clearly labeled disclosures on all their advertisements (and prohibit advertisements targeted at children).

* Concentrate drug law enforcement entirely on sales to minors and on keeping drugs out of our prisons, where they are scandalously available.

*Concentrate law enforcement on serious violent crimes, making it clear that we do not tolerate violence by addicts or non-addicts,

*devote more resources to eliminating the need for addicts to wait for treatment.

*Increase our research efforts (especially by the National Institute for Drug Abuse) and find new, more effective treatment.

*Tax drug sales to recover the cost of necessary social programs, including the medical treatment of addicts.

*Increase public education programs against drug use.

Peter B. Bloch

Silver Spring, Md.

Big government seeks big money

In the opinion-page article "Uncle Sam Should Ask the Tobacco Industry to Pay Up" (March 26) the author's suggestion that the United States government should join the growing queue of state governments holding up the tobacco companies is ill-advised.

The hypocrisy of this trend is breath-taking. Now, when funds are getting a little tight, when we've built up a medical infrastructure too expensive to maintain at its present level, we go for the throats - or rather, the wallets - of the tobacco companies and the smokers themselves.

This kind of behavior on the part of government contributes to the general sense that government is too big, too pervasive, too morally opportunistic.

All the tobacco money will do is add fuel to the spending frenzy that continues to grow unabated despite the claims that big government is over.

Paul J. Wescott

Sitka, Alaska

Whitewater media circus

In the editorial "Why Was Hubbell Paid?" (April 3) the Monitor concludes wrongdoing because (1) Whitewater and the campaign scandal "seem" to converge (2) Webster Hubbell and Hillary Rodham Clinton worked together when Jim McDougal got into trouble, and (3) because Vince Foster died and private Clinton papers ended up in the Clinton residence.

Why is it strange that papers belonging to the Clintons and in the care of Mr. Foster ended up in the Clinton residence? Upon the death of an attorney any private material belonging to his clients should be returned unexamined to its rightful owners. Why is it so often suggested that there is something wrong with this?

Why do we keep hearing the constant refrain of "Whitewater, ergo wrongdoing." Clearly, Whitewater is a media-created circus. I have yet to see any true evidence of Clinton wrongdoing. Apparently [independent counsel] Kenneth Starr can't find anything either, after millions of our dollars and two or three years.

Just because someone in Washington says something, doesn't make it true. Where there's smoke, there's a partisan politician trying to torch an opponent.

Barbara Palmerton

Quincy, Calif.

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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