Tobacco Deal Benefits Industry the Most

Lately you have printed several articles about the landmark deal between tobacco companies and 40 states. But if the goal is to curb the power and influence of tobacco, I don't think a deal is the best answer. Ask yourself, why are the tobacco companies supporting it? Probably not because of love for the human race.

The tobacco industry lately has been plagued with an increased volume of troublesome lawsuits. Far-seeing company execs could easily predict a time when the number and size of these lawsuits could become crippling. And so, in the guise of capitulating to public demands, they sought protection in an unprecedented deal.

It seems that everyone has been so blinded by the novelty of such a settlement that no one is aware of how the tobacco companies are benefitting from it.

The tobacco companies are fearful of being driven to bankruptcy by lawsuits; this deal puts a cap on the amount they have to pay out to claimants each year. Tobacco interests are afraid of prohibition of the drug nicotine; this deal prevents that from happening for several years. The tobacco industry is threatened by public condemnation for not discouraging teen smoking; this deal lets this inactivity continue in exchange for a comparatively paltry fee each year. A number of small restrictions on tobacco advertsing earn praise without causing great damage to tobacco interests.

The tobacco industry has done something incredible. Threatened by lawsuits, government regulation, and public scorn, it has managed to carve out a deal protecting itself from all these threats, and gaining the goodwill of everyone into the bargain. A settlement will protect tobacco interests and prolong the life of the tobacco companies. Is this what we want? Think about it.

April Clark

Santa Rosa, Calif.

Brady bill divergence

Regarding your editorial "Wounding the Brady Bill" (July 3): It took an American president getting shot to give us the Brady bill, but it took only one 5-to-4 decision of the Supreme Court to undo the effectiveness of this gun control law. That five logically impaired justices could think that it was an unfair burden to ask state and local officials to perform background checks on gun purchases is beyond belief.

Apparently, the majority of our highest court wants to move us back to the good old days of the Wild West where anybody could get a six shooter for cash. It is sad to see our judicial branch side with the Nation Rifle Association in preventing sensible gun control legislation from working.

George A. Dean

Edgartown, Mass.

In this editorial the Monitor continues its uncritical support for gun control issues. I expect better of a paper that was in the forefront in reporting the true facts in the Ukraine during the early years of the Soviet Union.

Various gun control laws have been enacted in the United States, and in other Western countries, since the end of World War I. Yet it cannot be shown that any of these laws have prevented any criminal anywhere from obtaining any firearm he wanted.

All these various laws have done is interfere with the ability of law-abiding citizens to obtain firearms for recreation and defense. If the waiting period that you tout were actually effective in reducing crime, California, with its 10-day waiting period on all guns and all gun transfers, should have one of the lowest rates of crimes committed with guns. Yet we know that this is not true.

It is very sad to see the blind faith that many have in gun control, which diverts law enforcement time and resources from other methods that actually do result in crime reduction. I would welcome the Monitor actually opening its pages to a true discussion of both sides of this issue.

Scot G. Douglas

Santa Ana, Calif.

* Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. 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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