The more you know

I am a visiting researcher from India. Let me share the India story on tobacco here ("Sins of the others," April 6). India has a huge tobacco problem, both smoked and chewed varieties. India also has huge taxes on tobacco, and this item figures almost annually on the tax-hike section in the budget. But, as we moved into the 21st century, we have encountered many fewer smokers on the roads than we previously did. (Sadly, the number of smokers generally keeps increasing.) The reduction in public smoking is the result of a concerted effort. Every pack of cigarette needs to carry a health hazard warning covering 40 percent of the pack's front. All movie-goers watch warnings on the hazards of tobacco. Above all, there is a nationwide ban on public smoking. The logic is that smoking, unlike other habits, causes cancer and other health hazards not just for the smoker, but also for those around him or her. The family, especially the kids at home, are the worst affected. If a tax hike reduces a person's cigarette consumption by 30 packs a year, then it should be welcomed from the health perspective. But the tax money thus acquired should be spent on awareness and rehabilitation programs.

David Jeyaraj

posted at

Put that in your pipe

I take offense at this article. No, the Legislature would not be taxing the poor. They would be taxing anyone who uses tobacco products! Period! The poor can't afford tobacco products, that is their choice ... tobacco or food! We all have to make tough decisions financially. And who ends up paying the bill for their health care for tobacco-related issues? We do, the citizens of Montana. This article appears to be written by someone under the influence of "Big Tobacco." This is their defense too, almost verbatim!

Diana Jo Page

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No sympathy

If outrageously pricing cigarettes discourages people from buying them, everyone wins. Medical treatment as a result of smoking is an ongoing public health concern. A drop in people who waste their money on tobacco means more of my tax dollars are available for treatment of conditions that are not easily preventable. Lives, especially those of children, will be improved when innocents are not exposed to secondhand smoke. The planet will not be littered by cigarette butts. Death and disfigurement will be reduced as a result of a decrease in house fires and wildfires, both commonly a result of careless smoking habits. The horror of being unable to breathe crosses all economic groups. Higher cigarette taxes do not unfairly target the poor. Cigarette taxes are funding educational programs and medications that are proven to help people kick the tobacco habit. Cost is just one more way to discourage cigarette use. I am more than willing to help people who can't afford basic necessities such as shelter and food. But if a person can't afford cigarettes, they need to give up the habit. Period. No sympathy, because it's a good thing!

Linda Joye

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Out of date

Lead was federally banned from use in waterfowl hunting on all federal, state, and privately owned land since 1991. There are hefty fines for being caught using lead by FWP. The issue at hand is lead core bullets. The statistics these hippies recite are numbers from the '70s and '80s, before the lead ban ("Get the lead out," April 6). Condors and eagles do not get lead poisoning these days from roadkill on highways, but more from lead fishing weights that fish ingest and birds of prey eat. There are still higher concentrations of lead in most of the municipal drinking water in this country than in every condor and eagle combined. Metallurgy and alloy technology have come a long way since the '80s, and lead core bullets do not fragment but mushroom out. No animal I have or have seen harvested has ever had a fragmented bullet. Bone yes, bullet no. Alternative facts from a bucket biologist.

Justin Benson

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Mail-in confusion

Once again, Dan Brooks has articulated the situation in Helena, in this case the failure of SB 305, which would have allowed the special election on Thursday, May 25, to be conducted exclusively by mail, rather than extract thousands in taxpayer money from already strapped counties to fund an unnecessary full-fledged election ("Suppressing the vote is not a campaign tactic," March 30).

Since reading Brooks' piece, however, I've learned that all-mail-in ballots may still be alive with Gov. Bullock's Fri., April 7, action, now part of HB 83. As of this writing, I have found no info on the bill's movement.

Due to the controversy, Montanans are confused about how to vote. I'd like to share what I know:

1) No matter what happens, you can still vote by mail, which I highly recommend! 2) Registered voters who are already signed up to get absentee ballots will get them as usual. 3) Those who are registered but aren't signed up to get absentee ballots can download the form from Montana Secretary of State website and mail it in before April 25, or do it all in person at the county courthouse downtown or election center at the fairgrounds. You can ask for the absentee ballot just this once, or get on the permanent list. 4) Those who aren't registered at their current addresses can do so on the Secretary of State website or at the courthouse or fairgrounds any time up until noon on Election Day, May 25. 5) Absentee ballots allow you to vote early, but must be received by Election Day, so mail them at least three days before the election or deliver in person to courthouse or the election center at the fairgrounds on or before Election Day. 6) In-state students, check your registration address and remember to vote. 7) Out-of-state students, if you voted in Montana in the last election, you are still registered unless your address has changed. If it has, or if you aren't registered in Montana, please register at your Montana address and vote by mail before you take off for the summer. 8) People with criminal records can vote, including those currently on parole or probation. 9) The homeless can vote in Montana! A homeless shelter or church can be your address.

Gwen McKenna


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