Secondhand information: Regarding Jason Sheehan's June 19 Bite Me:
Undeniably, secondhand smoke poses a health risk, but it is a risk that is consciously and voluntarily assumed by the customer when he/she enters a smoking establishment. For that reason, it is akin to the risk assumed by drinking coffee, eating fries and red meat, drinking too much booze or entering an excessively loud club. Why are we permitting the Denver City Council to exercise such broad regulatory power specifically with respect to smoking?
Could the answer to that question have to do with the lawsuits against tobacco companies that many municipalities are filing? About what year did the lawsuits begin? And the smoking bans? Does a city or state that has enacted smoking bans typically have a better chance of winning large cash awards in these cases? If so, one wonders if there is a connection between the feverish increase of late in the nationwide enactment of such bans and the large deficits that states and cities are currently running.
via the Internet
On the other hand: Why a smoking debate at all? Smoking is an addiction. Smokers are addicts and litterbugs. Smoking is a filthy, disgusting habit that raises medical costs and impacts the non-smoker.
It seems to me that the solution is obvious: The government needs to double the Medicare/Medicaid premiums on smoking recipients, because they are the ones draining the system. Why shouldn't those of us who actually take care of our health have reduced premiums or receive rewards for giving a damn about our health and other people's money? As a disabled, non-smoking person on Medicare who watches her diet (despite having to live on a limited food budget), makes a concerted attempt at exercising and utilizes alternative methods to address minor illnesses, I am sick and tired of being relegated to the same health-care system as those who don't or won't take care of themselves. If smokers don't like it, it's too damn bad! My health takes priority over your addiction.
Perhaps if the government did not have to pay out so much in medical, hospital and rehabilitative care, the money would be better used by increasing the amount for food stamps, so that the low-income/poor actually have a fighting chance at getting and staying healthy. As long as those who smoke do not have to pay for their addiction, the system will continue toward bankruptcy, and the taxpayers will have nothing to show for their investment.
As a VISTA volunteer, I was taught that "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
Calendar calamity: I am very unhappy that you have recently eliminated the calendar listings in Westword, especially the listings of weekly art show openings, current gallery shows, call for entries and the lectures/workshop listings. I have been picking up Westword on Wednesdays for many years and relying on it to plan my weekend art and cultural activities. With all of the recent funding cuts to the arts, this is yet another act that seriously affects attendance at art shows and galleries, as well as literary, cultural and educational events. I would think Westword would not take such a conservative action to decrease visibility for the arts and culture, and I hope you will reconsider this drastic measure.
The unkindest cut: Please reinstate the events calendar. It is helpful to know what things are going on around town and keeps the arts in the news -- an important outlet with all the cuts in arts funding lately. Please spend the time and resources to keep the arts at the forefront of our community.
Patricia Calhoun responds: Please turn the paper in your hands to pages 38-39, our Night & Day opener that highlights a dozen worthy upcoming arts and entertainment events; its format remains unchanged. Keep turning the pages: The space that once held event listings in tiny type has been expanded and reconfigured; it now holds stories on twenty more worthy upcoming events -- events that previously would have gone unrecognized. Keep turning to page 56, where we've added capsule reviews of art shows by Michael Paglia to match the capsule reviews of theater productions that we've been running for some time. The fact is, Westword is devoting more time, more space and considerably more resources to upcoming arts and entertainment events -- all in an effort to bring new readers (and thus new patrons) to the section, and not just preach to the converted. Now please go to the Web, where you'll find hundreds of arts and entertainment listings -- far more than used to run in the paper, where they were the first items cut -- in not just the familiar categories, but several new ones, including Charity Events and Community Events. Whether or not you like the changes (and you can tell me directly at [email protected]), Westword's devotion to the arts remains unchanged.