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Double Standards for Air Quality

February 19, 2001

How can municipalities outlaw outdoor smoking while promoting public transportation ["This Town's Not Big Enough for Smokers," Jan. 31]? Has no one paid attention to the huge, noxious clouds that belch forth from buses as they leave the curb after each stop? I cannot imagine that the carcinogens allegedly released into the atmosphere by even a dozen human chimneys chain-smoking 24 hours a day in a small space in the open air could be as bad as those released by the diesel engines of a city's fleet of frequently half-empty people movers.

When the U.S. has eliminated the use of tobacco products entirely and people continue to be plagued by lung cancer and the variety of other physical ailments ascribed to the evils of cigarette smoke, where will the blame be placed?

KATHEE BREWER

Chatsworth

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Mayor Alfred Muller of Friendship Heights, Md., clearly is not familiar with the history of fascism and communism. The article said "one recent letter writer called Muller a 'fascist dictator' for denying citizens the right to smoke in the open air. To which the mayor responds, 'The fascists killed people. We're trying to save lives.' " May I remind Muller that the regimes of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, as well as the totalitarian regimes of the left like those of Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Castro, without exception, all tried to justify themselves by claiming to "save lives."

Furthermore, Nazi Germany was the very first country to try to restrict smoking, and many of the anti-smoking efforts so popular in California and elsewhere in the U.S. have strong precedents in efforts that Hitler's Germany made to try to end the use of tobacco.

Ultimately, the best way to "save lives" and to improve the quality of life for as many people as possible is to avoid the sort of "do-gooder" thinking that restricts freedom ostensibly to "save lives."

MICHAEL SNIDER

Santa Monica

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