I applaud President Clinton's putting his foot down on Joe Camel (Aug. 26 and 21). But more needs to be done. The fact that Clinton is doing it shows that the matter has been too greatly neglected by others. Parents could do more by keeping cigarettes locked up instead of leaving cartons around. Better yet, parents should quit smoking and discuss the importance of not smoking with their children.
The schools could do more by spending more hours on health issues related to smoking so that kids would build a firmer connection between smoking and its effects, such as subsequent addiction and increased risk of illness, disability and life-threatening disease. Store owners need to exercise responsibility, so that only addicted adults purchase tobacco--not 13-year-old girls wearing lots of eye makeup. Tobacco is being sold at at least one high school in Los Angeles in the student store--to wit, tobacco is sold in the student store at Cal State L.A., and that campus is also the campus of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.
STEPHEN V. HYMOWITZ
* The President is wrong on the smoking issue. What half-intelligent person today doesn't know that smoking is bad for you? President Clinton is a "Big Brother government-in-your-face" type of President. It's obvious that he is exploiting the "no personal responsibility" victim mentality of the '90s.
What other vices can we have the government regulate? How about overeating? Or over-sunbathing? The last thing we need today is an already out-of-control Food and Drug Administration with even more power over our lives.
* While I would agree with Malcolm Wallop's assertion (Commentary, Aug. 30) that both smokers and nonsmokers are "Americans with rights," smoking is not among those rights.
We all have the right to pollute our own bodies as we damn well please. We also have the right not to pollute our bodies. This is where the comparisons between smoking and any other vice or hobby become invalid. Yes, red meat is bad for you; but there is no such thing as secondhand cholesterol. Alcohol is technically a poison; but if I choose to abuse it, mine is the only liver that will be ruined. If a smoker sits near me in a public place, his smoke goes into my lungs and eyes and clothes, whether I want it to or not.
* As part of her advice to congressional Republicans, Dr. Elizabeth Whelan suggests they "appoint an impartial committee of scientists to review the effects of secondhand smoke" (Column Right, Aug. 29). Implicit in this is the assumption that the many studies already linking secondhand smoke to myriads of health problems weren't impartial--the standard party line of the tobacco industry. But if they weren't, what biased special interest was footing the bill? Statistical studies don't come cheaply, after all.
Given that Whelan and other Republicans seem to think that the public can be protected from cigarette smoke without regulations, it's no wonder that the issue has been abandoned to the left.