Raise the cigarette tax

for everyone’s health

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

As Richmond wrestles the financial needs of schools, the proposed cigarette tax hike has the benefit of providing desperately needed funds for school facility maintenance and would save lives. Each day, about 2,500 kids in the U.S. try their first cigarette.

Smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S. Every year tobacco kills more than 480,000 Americans and is a leading factor in cardiovascular disease.

As a pulmonologist, I treat patients daily who suffer directly and indirectly from the consequences of smoking. The impact of exposure to the chemicals emitted from smoking isn’t just confined to smokers, but also to others from secondhand smoke. Time missed from work and monies spent for treatment of conditions related to smoking are immeasurable.

A significant increase in a cigarette tax is proven to be an effective way to prevent children from smoking and help adults quit. As a member of the American Heart Association’s Richmond Board of Directors, I believe improving the cardiovascular health of our community is vitally important.

A cigarette tax benefits public health, increases worker productivity, and lowers health care costs. According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, smoking-caused health expenses and lost productivity cost an estimated $19.16 per pack of cigarettes. Annual health care expenses in Virginia directly caused by smoking cost $3.11 billion. That’s a tax burden of more than $700 per household.

The health department estimates that 23.8 percent of the city’s population smokes cigarettes. That’s higher than the statewide and national average reported by the Centers for Disease Control in 2016. An 80-cent cigarette tax would decrease cigarette use.

Let’s not delay in creating a tobacco tax. Let’s raise it for health, raise it for kids, and raise it for RVA.

Lornel Tompkins, M.D.


We do need

to bring God back

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I agree with M.J. Stidham’s letter “Let us return to earlier times.” Our culture and society have changed. Since we took God out of our schools and homes, things have gotten worse. There is a lack of respect for others and our laws.

We need to bring God back. The discipline of saying the Pledge of Allegiance and prayers every day helps make us all aware of our Americanism.

Anne L. McClintock.


Inmate warns of the

dangers of addiction

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Addiction is a national emergency. That warning should be broadcast by the national emergency system. Addiction has spread to all rural, suburban, and urban areas. Immediate action needs to be taken.

All people are affected but government is not acting to combat this serious threat to our families and friends.

Even as the government prepares for a possible missile attack from North Korea, it ignores the fact that we are already at war. The government won’t respond to this threat that is 100 percent real and is claiming lives right now. We are facing a global epidemic and are getting no help.

Wake up, President Trump, and look at what is happening right now — not what might possibly happen.

Jeremy Ester,

Pamunkey Regional Jail.Hanover.

Accordino is a

valued member of VCU

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

I am appalled at the recent news of Doug Wilder’s lawsuit against John Accordino, dean of the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU. Accordino is a beloved professor and he has served VCU and the greater Richmond community in a stellar capacity for more than 30 years.

As a member of the library faculty at the University of Richmond, I know that Accordino’s research, teaching, and scholarship are highly regarded at the national and international level. This lawsuit is an assault on his character, his leadership, and his devotion and commitment to the VCU community.

Lucretia McCulley.


Pesticides are affecting

bee colony deaths

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

Regarding the letter, “Causes of honeybee decline are unknown”: Correspondent of the Day W. Wayne Surles admits to experience in the practice of biocontrol, described by Conservation Magazine as having a history “blemished with what today are judged to have been catastrophic mistakes.” To this first job description, Surles adds his work in pesticide development, while claiming that pesticides have not been proven to affect the decline in the health and population of honeybees.

In another issue of Conservation Magazine, we learn that Monarch butterflies lay their fertilized eggs only on milkweed because this plant (considered an agricultural weed) is the sole sustenance of their larvae. Ask someone from Monsanto whether the use of Roundup to control milkweed in crops is connected to the decline and deterioration of the health of Monarch butterflies and you will undoubtedly receive an evasive and intentionally confusing reply (if you get one at all).

The effect of pesticides on bees is insidious and not always as immediate as spraying cockroaches with Raid. But European studies have shown that when exposure to pesticides is not directly lethal, these poisons certainly affect the bees by causing disorientation, compromised immunity, and cumulative toxicity. Bees can carry pesticide traces back to the colony, potentially causing widespread colony deaths. While it is true that both pesticides and parasites have been implicated in colony collapse disorder, it also seems likely that the former is facilitating the existence of the latter.

Frederick Chiriboga.


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