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Letters To The Editor

Smoke and sugar

In Roy Chang’s cartoon portraying lawmakers scaring children around a campfire to justify tobacco and sugary beverage taxes, the characters are mislabeled.

Tax is a proven, effective policy for tobacco control and could be an effective strategy for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Tobacco companies, not lawmakers, have misrepresented the dangers of their products. Similarly, manufacturers of products with excess calories and sugar encourage children and youths to overconsume.

In Hawaii, smoking rates and deaths due to stroke and heart disease decreased following government intervention. Progressive policies including high tobacco taxes and comprehensive programs help prevent youths from initiating tobacco use, and help smokers quit. The recently released Surgeon General’s Report on tobacco prevention showed that nationally, smoking rates for youths stopped declining. But in Hawaii, youth smoking rates went down 54 percent from 2000 to 2009.

Hawaii needs to likewise develop a comprehensive mix of policies and programs to make healthy foods and physical activity the desired option to reverse the obesity trends for children and adults. So this cartoon might have got the characters right, but the labels and captions are wrong.

Loretta J. Fuddy
Director, Hawaii Department of Health

Unfair target

I am angered by MidWeek‘s tendency to publish letters that largely consist of ad hominem attacks on a wonderful human being and patriot, Mr. Jerry Coffee. Two recent letters are examples of this inclination.

2/29/12: Patricia Blair uses the “John Kerry” concept by holding up her brother as a better man because he chose to resign his commission during the Vietnam War. This holier-than-thou attitude is quaint at best. She then proceeds to make assumptions about a man she has assuredly never met. Jerry is the least bitter man that I have ever met, which is amazing knowing a little bit about what he endured in service to our country.

She lowers herself to condescension – “May I remind Mr. Coffee”- and an unsupported historical statement regarding the nature of our nation.

Finally, she descends into completely incorrect vitriol, describing Jerry as “unChristian” (is that a word?). I am honored to be a member of the same church as Jerry, and I know him to be a humble follower of Christ.

3/7/12: Robert Stiver’s rant regarding an event that took place in 1967 did not merit publication. His diatribe did not contain a single logical argument against Mr. Coffee’s point of view and resorted to negativity and name-calling, which added nothing to intelligent discourse.

Scott Schultz