Letters for July 9 

Readers sound off on the light brown apple moth, the smoking ban in Berkeley and other cities, Hidden City Cafe, the East Bay Express, and the mess in Oakland.

"The Real Pests to Agriculture," Your Words Here, 6/11

The Spraying Hasn't Been Stopped Yet

On behalf of Bay Area Stop the Spray groups, we celebrate and thank all the individuals, public officials, doctors, scientists, and more than 30 local governments and 80 organizations who spoke out to stop aerial spraying of pesticides over our cities for the light brown apple moth. The state's abrupt decision to halt the urban spray is a clear testament to the power of an informed movement of citizens.

Unfortunately, the state still intends to aerially spray forested and other areas (perhaps Mt. Tam and East Bay parks?) for light brown apple moths and to use ground spray and other dangerous pesticides (including permethrin, a carcinogen, toxic to bees) in our neighborhoods.

The state has filed court documents indicating an intent to proceed without environmental review. We have asked for written clarification of what treatments are planned, and we continue to work to reclassify the moth to stop this unsafe, unnecessary, and ineffective program.

We hope Bay Area citizens will continue to oppose this whole program and support the transformation of agriculture from dependence on mono-cropping and toxic chemicals to a reliance on the wisdom of nature via organic, bio-diverse farming, so we may all enjoy a healthy, pesticide-free food supply.

Nan Wishner, Stop the Spray East Bay, Albany

"Smoke-Free Nation," Feature, 6/11

Smoking: For the Rich Only?

Yes, breathing secondhand smoke in an enclosed space is dangerous to the individual. What is dangerous to our democracy is the overzealous abridgement of smokers' rights. Look where this is heading: "It's not too difficult to imagine a future in which the only place people can light up is in a single-family home — and only if there are no children or neighbors nearby." And who can afford to buy those single-family dwellings? Once again, the comfy upper-class gleefully legislates away the dwindling comforts of the poor.

Bronwen Rowlands, Albany

Drug Prohibitions Do Not Work

As a lifelong nonsmoker who grew up in a smokers' household with no adverse effects, we need to halt the prohibitionist logic behind the secondhand smoke agitprop. We have no idea if 47,000 of the alleged 50,000 victims really die of heart disease related to obesity, high blood pressure, and other factors. Ergo for the 3,000 alleged cancer victims.

Last year my 87-year-old aunt died of sudden lung cancer, and she never smoked in her life or was around smokers.

The fact of the matter is that everything has side effects or externalities and that is the price of living in civilization. The American Lung Cancer should have their tax exemption lifted for engaging in blatantly political acts such as lobbying for laws. After the failed experiments in alcohol and drug prohibition, you would think we'd have learned something. But the brain-dead statist-collectivist NEVER does.

Al Blue, Richmond

Where Are Our Priorities?

Whatever happened to progressive, liberal, radical Berkeley? It seems to me that everyone has gone soft and reactionary, and that policies such as those being proposed by local lawmakers are, indeed, quite draconian.

As both a nicotine smoker and a healing arts practitioner (yes folks, we exist), I can clearly empathize with those on both sides of this issue. I have often been complimented by non-smokers for my sensitivity to their rights and their comfort zones. I have also witnessed and been disturbed by the inconsiderate practices of other smokers. But I can assure you that considerate smokers exist in this world and shouldn't be punished so severely by those who are clearly riding on some political bandwagon.

While I agree with most of the bans already placed into effect, I do not think that we need to go any farther. I do not smoke inside of the units that I rent out of respect to my landlords. I have requested permission from my neighbors to smoke in an established outdoor area. I do not smoke in food-related public spaces: if I am eating at say, Fourth Street, I step away from the patio and walk into the parking lot. I sit far away from other people in public parks; I cross the street or put my cigarette out if I see children or a pregnant mother walking in my direction. I always extinguish my butts cautiously and throw them away in garbage receptacles.

What options are left for smokers? If I can't smoke in my own apartment, can't smoke outside of it, can't smoke in parks or in public spaces (including sidewalks), where exactly can I smoke? If I go 25 feet from my apartment in any direction, including the street in front of my own living environment, then I am already violating somebody else's 25-foot zone. Are they going to put us inside of smoke bubbles? Enforce some mandatory Brave New World-type cessation program? Until that time, perhaps we should all get in our cars, roll up the windows, and drive around the block, adding toxic fumes and traffic congestion to our lovely cities. As for Julie Sinai, please ask her if she drives a car, eats or shops at corporate chain stores, contributes to landfills on a weekly basis, drinks an occasional soda or alcoholic beverage, takes or prescribes medications promoted by the drug industry.


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