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Smoking Measure

October 21, 1994

I am compelled to compliment The Times and Dan Morain on his Oct. 10 article, "Tobacco Giant Quietly Pushes Prop. 188."

Morain highlighted the truth behind this devastating and confusing initiative. Philip Morris USA and other tobacco companies are spending more than $7 million to support Proposition 188, under the guise of "Californians for Statewide Smoking Restrictions."

The truth is that 188 would preempt or replace local smoking ordinances, replacing them with a more lenient statewide ban that would allow regulated smoking in most places. Proposition 188 is not "a reasonable compromise between smokers and nonsmokers" nor is it "a fair, balanced, reasonable solution."

Let's be realistic: Would the tobacco industry really spend upwards of $8 million to "protect" our health? In California alone, 14 people die every day from secondhand smoke, while hundreds of others suffer its effects in the form of lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory infections.

If voters take the time to read between the lines, it is clear that Proposition 188 would be the greatest setback to California's progressive anti-smoking effort. Your story is a good first step to clearing the air.

TERRI JONISCH

Los Angeles

If the people of California are stupid enough to pass the tobacco company-sponsored Proposition 188, then they deserve the consequences of their stupidity.

KENNETH MATASSA

Santa Ana

When the voters approved a 25-cent tax on cigarettes in 1988 to be used for anti-smoking education, I doubt if anyone imagined that the Department of Health Services would use this money for high-priced TV commercials. In your Oct. 14 article, S. Kimberly Belshe, director of the department, states that these ads do not defame Reynolds Tobacco Chairman James W. Johnston. She must not watch these commercials--a revolting waste of taxpayer money.

If she can't find better use for the funds, turn them back to the general fund.

MARVIN S. LUNTZ

Los Angeles

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