Where there's smoke, there's ire

Letters from the week of July 4, 2002

Burning Man

Put it out already: I enjoyed the "Up in Smoke" interview by Robrt L. Pela in last week's issue (Speakeasy, June 27). Enjoyed it, as in it was hilarious!

Roger Egan from McDuffy's needs to suck it up and move on. Why can't he understand that our voting process has been this way before Proposition 200?

Is it fair that only Tempe and Mesa have the smoking ban? No. Should the ban be structured to include the entire county or state? Yes. California is doing just fine. Years from now this will not be an issue.

Dennis Kelley

Smoke gets in your eyes: I read with great interest Robrt Pela's interview with Roger Egan. It was apparent that Mr. Egan doesn't quite understand all the facts. This most absolutely is about a health issue. If he kept up with current news, he would have heard the World Health Organization report that tobacco smoke is much worse than we ever thought, causing liver cancer, kidney cancer, stomach cancer, cervical cancer and leukemia. The article I read said the WHO considers this an urgent situation.

Egan also states that it is unfair for a small number of petitioners to dictate what a larger number of smokers do. Does he realize that on the whole as a nation 75 percent of people do not smoke, and so that leaves 25 percent who are dictating that the 75 percent of nonsmokers must endure the toxic effects of their habit?

Finally, perhaps if Egan did his research on California since its inception of no-smoking laws, he would find that tourism has increased and business on the whole actually improves. Logical when you realize the majority of people do not smoke and are more likely to go out if they don't have to be exposed to deadly poisons.

Here in New Mexico we are thrilled that you have passed your legislation. There are many here who agree and we will be close behind.

DiAnn Walkinshaw

Smokers are people, too: As a smoker, I have always been considerate around those who do not participate in it. But I am deeply concerned about a government that can dictate to the public (those who pay their paychecks) what and where we can do things such as smoking. If they are so concerned about my health from secondhand smoke, then maybe they should give up driving! The carbon monoxide they are putting in the air far outweighs that of my cigarette. Let's get real, people, and start doing what you are paid to do besides dictating to the general public. Are we not still a democracy?

Margaret R. Fischer

Law of Nature

Plumping up the truth: I read (with some amusement) Michael Lacey's lighthearted column about Southwest Airlines' policy of charging large passengers for two seats instead of one ("Large and In Charge," June 27). It seems that most public comment on this issue ignores some basic physical laws that tend to support Southwest's policy.

The operating cost of an airplane is dependent on its total weight to a much greater degree than ground vehicles (cars and buses). This is mostly due to the fact that a passenger's weight in a car is supported directly by the ground, and doesn't require any fuel to be burned just to support the weight. An airplane, on the other hand, requires constant fuel burning to generate the "lift" necessary to support the weight of the airplane and its passengers.

It turns out that about 50 percent of the cost to make an airplane trip is in the fuel burned, and each passenger's contribution to that fuel consumption is proportional to his/her weight. The actual cost to carry a 300-pound passenger is about 25 percent higher than the cost to transport a 150-pound passenger. Indeed, in the early days of commercial air travel, each passenger's fare was based on the actual weight of the passenger and his baggage.

Obviously, this issue is more about the social stigma attached to obesity than physical reality. But it might be worth remembering that while the anti-discrimination laws allow the courts a wide range of interpretation, the laws of physics do not.

Steve Fahrner

Food Fetish

Ignorance is bliss: Carey Sweet's ignorance comes through loud and clear in every sentence of her article "Severe Grain Damage" (Cafe, June 27). There is nothing wrong with being ignorant, Carey, but there is something wrong with staying that way. Try eating only raw foods for three months and then write another article and see if your views have changed.

James Kleveland

Gene Therapy

Profit marginal: Enjoyed the article "Romancing the Genome" (John Dougherty, June 6). Given the opposition to interviews, fine job. The deal stinks to high heaven.

Here's why: Richard Mallery and son alliance, flexible financing, political fast-tracking, and last but not least I assure you, not-for-profit to for-profit spin-off harvesting. Arizona may be 41st in bio-spending, but that's half the story. The flip side is, yes there is, our boom to bust losses are low à la the Mercado. Is this not real estate speculation in a different suit? Field of dreams?

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