Letters for May 31, 2001

Tobacco pimps
I am writing to let you know how surprised and disappointed I was to see the full-page cigarette ad in your paper this week [May 24]. As a parent and a health educator, I have been working to reduce tobacco use in our communities for years. It’s a hard battle—no health or community organization has the financial resources of the tobacco industry. We’ve had some success, but there is still a long way to go. Adults are smoking less, but children continue to start smoking every day. Young adults (18-24) currently have the highest smoking rate of any age group.

Numerous studies have shown that tobacco advertising and promotion are causally related to youth tobacco use. (Why else would the tobacco companies spend $8 billion a year to advertise and promote their product?) Since the Master Settlement Agreement in 1998, we no longer have billboard advertising of tobacco. But the tobacco companies have simply shifted those advertising dollars into other venues, most notably magazine advertising and ads/promotions at retail stores.

Many magazines and newspapers also have policies to not accept tobacco ads. Apparently, the News & Review was one of them (at least a partial policy), until now. Your decision to start running tobacco ads is most definitely a step in the wrong direction. Tobacco advertising promotes tobacco use as a social norm and leads to increased tobacco use among young people. Accepting tobacco advertising dollars has also been shown to stifle reporting on the health effects of tobacco use.

Please do what is the in the best interests of the people of Butte County and stop allowing tobacco companies to use your newspaper as a vehicle to promote tobacco use in our communities.

Ellen Michels

One more chance
What’s with this employee vote [Inside view, CN&R, May 24]? I appreciate your democratic approach, but I would suspect the majority [of CN&R employees] are smokers with a big case of denial, as with most addicts. Tobacco advertising cheapens your journalism. You are falling to a new low accepting tobacco industry dollars. You are playing into and are very much a part of the tobacco industry plot to lure and addict a new generation of addicts.

How many of your employees wish they never started smoking? How many feel the ill effects? How many wish they could give it up? How many think they will only give the tobacco companies just a few more good years? And how many will eventually die from a tobacco-related illness? It was pretty savvy to let the employees take the heat, but ultimately it is the corporate /management team that will take the hit.

I would like to give you and your staff an opportunity to rescind your decision to accept tobacco advertising dollars. It is hard for me to believe I’m having to make this request.

Tobacco, when used as intended, kills and disables. Do you really want to be a contributor to such a disgusting cause?

Please cancel your existing ad contracts with all tobacco companies. If you are seeking positive change, please take a stand against the tobacco industry, not for it.

Bill Arnold

Enough already
There was a time when I would never miss an issue of the CN&R. It was a hip, progressive newspaper. I happened to miss the issue with the “Best + Whitest” cartoon [Ted Rall, CN&R, May 10] depicting Vietnam vets in a derogatory manner, but a good friend pointed it out to me. I guess it’s hip and acceptable to show Vietnam vets in a less-than-desirable light.

I’m a Vietnam vet, drafted in 1966 and sent to the Central Highlands with the 1st Cav as a medic. I did not want to go. I was threatened with five years in prison if I did not go. I had no idea what was coming when I got there. It was some pretty bloody shit.

I somehow survived that experience. But I had no idea how mean spirited and downright cruel people could be until I came back to the States, where we vets were treated with disdain and contempt or worse. It was not bad enough to have to go through absolute hell. No, for the next 30 years, Vietnam vets had to be blamed for everything from drug abuse to losing a war.

Vietnam vets are a dwindling minority. Their mortality rate is higher than that of their fellow citizens who are not ‘Nam vets, as are their divorce and suicide rates. Many ‘Nam vets suffer from post-traumatic-stress disorder. They have enough problems. Haven’t they suffered enough?

Thank God for the Chico Examiner. At least they have not forgotten what they stand for, progressive thought for the entire community and not targeting groups who don’t need to be hit again and again and again.

Phil Elkins

Betrayed by a Kiss?
I have celebrated three holidays this month—my birthday, Mother’s Day and National Nurses’ Day. My daughter, even though still a young girl, knows how to make a person feel appreciated. The administration at Enloe hasn’t learned how to show its appreciation of the nurses.

After giving Enloe almost 14 years, a bag of cheap candy with catchy messages all full of barbs was nothing more than an insult. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there were a few other treats: free breakfast, free ice cream, free fruit, four pieces of free chocolate and, last but not least, lanyards that said, “I Love my hospital.”

In light of the bitter battle the administrators put up against us last year, these little treats seem to be just slaps in the face. This bitter battle is being waged even now as we strive to negotiate a contract with Enloe.

As the Enloe negotiators choose to stall, one can only believe that they don’t intend to agree on any aspect of the contract. Which in turn can only serve to make me believe that they would like to force the nurses to strike. Or, perhaps they are only stalling in an effort to make that one-year deadline to push for a revote in hopes that we will give up and vote the union out.

We won’t give up. We are fighting for more than just annual raises and better benefits. We are fighting for the future of nursing, our patients’ well being and a hospital our community can be proud of.

We appreciate all the support that our community has given us. Thank you. Please, we still need this support. Stop stalling, Enloe administration. Give us a contract. Show us you do appreciate us. And keep your Hershey’s Kisses. Give them to your mothers.

Cynthia Tinker

Casualties of war
Thanks for the great coverage of the medical marijuana issue ["Joints in the joint?” Newslines, May 17]. While the government has decided to wage full-scale war on us herbal and natural-medicine advocates, it’s nice to know that the local press (and that includes most of the local papers, TV and radio stations) has been brave enough to tell the truth, which, as the saying goes, is (usually) the first casualty of war.

The next casualties include poor and disabled medical-marijuana users, children dosed on Ritalin and drug abusers who are offered only incarceration, improper treatment and more dangerous street drugs, while coke-snorting presidents, alcoholic cops and congressmen and dangerous drug-pushing pharmaceutical corporations seem impervious to the government’s phony drug war.

As for our local sheriff deferring to the opinion of the Butte County Jail doctor, I would no more trust that doctor than I would undergo surgery by Dr. Josef Mengele.

Herbal peace, not drug wars.

Mike Rogers
Butte Alliance for Medical Marijuana

P S: Please come join us at Moxie’s every Sunday, 2:15-4:20 p.m.