- The Washington Times - Friday, April 12, 2002

There's little smoke in tobacco prevention programs

This letter is in response to your editorial titled, "Smoke and mirrors in Virginia," (April 4) which questions why Virginia would fund a youth tobacco use prevention campaign when the state's budget is so tight.

First of all, the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation (VTSF), the organization launching this campaign, was affected by the budget crisis as much as any other organization. VTSF receives about $13 million per year from the Master Settlement Agreement (not citizens' tax dollars), and our budget was reduced by $15.5 million as part of the biennium budget. We have felt the budget crunch.

The General Assembly established the VTSF for the purpose of leading a statewide effort to reduce and prevent the use of tobacco products by youth in Virginia. The VTSF has budgeted $9 million per year for the next three years for its marketing campaign, which is one part of a comprehensive approach to reduce youth tobacco use in Virginia. Other elements include 84 local educational programs throughout the state, an innovative research consortium involving major Virginia universities, and enforcement of Virginia's youth access law.

The American Legacy Foundation recently released a report that illustrates that comprehensive and integrated tobacco prevention programs not only work to prevent our youth from using tobacco products but also help reduce state medical costs for caring for citizens with tobacco-related disease.

In addition, you published an article on the same day as your editorial titled, "Anti-smoking ads in Virginia aim at youths," which states: "A report released by the National Cancer Institute suggests that youth-oriented anti-tobacco marketing may be having an effect. The report said that smoking among adolescents has declined in recent years and noted that campaigns similar to Virginia's have led to significant declines in youth smoking in several states."

As we can see, there are studies showing that campaigns such as ours work to reduce youth tobacco use. There are also studies showing that reducing youth tobacco use results in a decrease in state medical costs for caring for citizens with tobacco-related disease. So, how is funding a tobacco use prevention program such as ours not financially prudent?

You refer to our initiatives as "a luxury." We see it as a necessity for our youth and for our state. It sure seems to me that there isn't as much smoke in those mirrors as you may have thought.


STEVEN J. DANISH

Director, Life Skills Center

Professor of psychology and preventive medicine

Virginia Commonwealth University

Richmond, Va.

Celibacy may not be an abuser's straightjacket

;In her April 10 letter to the editor "Abstinence advocates should take note of church scandal," Frances Kissling asks why we should support abstinence programs "when the [Catholic] church is unable to persuade adult priests, who have taken a vow of celibacy, not to abuse children and teens sexually?"

The revelations that pedophile priests exist have been used by many with hidden agendas to bash the Roman Catholic Church itself. But are we dealing with priests who molest young boys or homosexuals who happen to be priests? Was it their Catholicism or their homosexuality that drove their actions?

Before I am accused of gay-bashing by Catholic-bashers who willingly associate celibacy, but not homosexuality, with these crimes against God and man, let me point out that in 90 percent of the cases of abuser priests, the victims were teen-age boys. It is also worth noting, according to an Ann Coulter column, that the faculty of Yale University has a higher percentage of child molesters than the Catholic Church. There are 45,000 priests in America and, so far, 55 accused abusers, vs. 836 tenured professors at Yale with one child molester convicted last month.

Recently, 90 persons in more than 20 states have been charged in the ongoing Operation Candyman investigation, a nationwide FBI sting targeting members of three Internet chat groups who deal in child pornography and prey on young children. One was a 35-year-old man who works as a caseworker for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago. He admitted to having sex with at least three children.

Among those arrested were people entrusted with children's well-being members of the clergy, Little League coaches, a teacher's aide, a guidance counselor and a school bus driver people from all walks of life, married and single, people who could be your neighbor, not just celibate priests.

The irony here is that many have fought for the ordination of openly homosexual men and their right to adopt children. It would seem now that the Boy Scouts of America, which resisted attempts to force the organization to have homosexual troop leaders leading young boys into the woods, was not bigoted, but merely prudent.


DANIEL JOHN SOBIESKI

Chicago, Ill.

Suicide bombers cause severe blowback

In reference to the article "Terror's common denominator" by Arnaud de Borchgrave (Commentary, April 7), I think the parallel he draws between the Middle East and Algeria is deeply flawed. The French in Algeria could (and in fact did) run back to France when things got too hot. The Israelis have nowhere to go. I don't expect they will give in.

Conventional wisdom says that terrorism works. I think the truth is less clear-cut. In Rhodesia, for example, it was not terrorism that brought Ian Smith, then the leader of the country now known as Zimbabwe, to the negotiating table but arm-twisting by South Africa, which in turn was under pressure from the West. In fact, it's arguable that terrorism actually prolonged the war by making whites fearful of what life might be like under a black government. (Sadly, it turns out their fears were well-founded.)

It's a pity the Palestinians cannot learn from another group that was oppressed miserably in the past black Americans. Forty years ago, the idea of a black secretary of state would have been laughable. In the interim, huge strides have been made toward ending discrimination not because whites were terrorized into doing so but because a dignified and moral civil rights movement showed them the error of their ways.

In 40 years, the Palestinian "cause" has gotten them nowhere. Precisely, I submit, because their bombings and killings have hardened Israeli attitudes to the point where many Israelis now believe the words "Palestinian" and "terrorist" to be synonymous.


JOHN WINTERBOTTOM

Windsor, Ontario

Saudi proposal is a sound starting point

It is unfortunate that Jack Kemp dismisses so cavalierly Saudi Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan's recent appeal for revived negotiations, based largely on his country's peace initiative for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ("Imperatives of Powell's Mission," Commentary, April 10).

The Saudi proposal that all Arab states establish full and normal relations with Israel in return for the latter's return to the 1967 borders is far from Mr. Kemp's claim that such ideas represent "distorted and belligerent rhetoric." The United States, of course, must provide guarantees for Israel's long-term security (but has no obligation to do so for the latter's settlements in the Occupied Territories, which can spawn nothing but further violence).

Ultimately, Israel will still face the political problem of what to do with the Palestinian population no matter how the current military operations end, and Mr. Kemp offers no way out apart from more of the same. It is in everybody's interest that of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians and Saudi Arabia to find a political solution, and the Saudi proposal seems to be the only realistic starting point on the table so far.


NORMAN CIGAR

Vienna, Va.

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