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Letters to the Editor

Smoking ordinance needs

to be tougher, not weaker

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners has been a leader in smoking control. Gwinnett was one of the first counties to act 12 years ago to improve air quality in public places and workplaces by controlling smoking. Then last year, the commission banned smoking in workplaces for the health of all employees.

Tobacco smoke has 600 toxins, and 69 of these cause cancer. Generally, we only hear about the victims of secondhand smoke when they are famous. Soon after we heard that Peter Jennings died from lung cancer, Dana Reeve, wife of "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve, announced that at 44 she has lung cancer. She didn't smoke but she sang in smoky clubs. The Gwinnett ordinance is helping prevent that happening and should remain to do so.

It was a surprise to read that Wild Bill's was still open. When the owners testified against the ordinance, it sounded as if they would soon close it. But it has survived being smoke-free for 17 months.

We agree with American Cancer Society spokesman Andy Lord. The Commission should listen to the committee that has studied the issue for a year. To cut back the ordinance to be equal to the state law will reduce protection for many nonsmokers. Workers deserve clean air at work.

To reduce protections will run against the tide around the world. On Sept. 1, Vermont became the eighth smokefree state with bans on smoking in the workplace including restaurants, bars and casinos. On June 1, Sweden joined Ireland, Norway, Malta, Italy and Bhutan in banning smoking in workplaces. In Georgia, Gainesville and Athens-Clarke County have just passed such ordinances. So this is the time for Gwinnett County to improve the ordinance, not to step backward to allow smoking indoors.

- D. Gordon Draves

Georgians Against Smoking Pollution

president

East Point

Hurricane not a racist event

There are a select few in this country who must continue to add fuel to the fire of racism.

There's big money to be made. Without it, people like Jesse Jackson would be out of business. Making an act of God such as Katrina about racism shows you what they're really about: keeping this country divided among racial lines.

The tragedy of New Orleans was going to happen, sooner or later. No one was prepared even though they had a week of warning. There's plenty of blame to go around, but racism had nothing to do with it. Mother nature rules this world, and all we should be concentrating on is getting through it. Together, not divided.

- Debi Ortagus

Sugar Hill