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Tuesday Letters: Get chewing tobacco out of sports venues

Ald. Ed Burke | Sun-Times file photo

Your March 14 editorial (“Chewing tobacco is baseball’s problem, not Council’s”) is absolutely right on one key point: Major League Baseball and its players should have acted long ago to set the right example for kids and prohibit chewing tobacco use at baseball stadiums. In fact, we and others have repeatedly asked them to do so. Unfortunately, they have not done so and the players continue to resist such a prohibition.

The result is devastating. We have made little progress in the last 15 years in reducing the use of smokeless tobacco among teenage boys. That is why Chicago and other Major League cities need to step in and take action to protect our kids. San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles have already passed laws to make sports venues, including baseball stadiums, entirely tobacco-free. The Chicago City Council should join them by approving the legislation introduced by Ald. Edward Burke.

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Your editorial lists the many reasons why action is needed: “Chewing tobacco is bad stuff” that “is horrible for your health and kind of gross,” and its use by Major League players sets “a bad example for adoring kids.”

A prohibition on tobacco use at baseball stadiums will not affect what players can do in their personal lives, although we certainly encourage everyone to quit using tobacco for their own health. Baseball stadiums, however, are workplaces and public spaces. It is entirely appropriate to restrict the use of a harmful and addictive substance in such a setting. While players are on the job, they have a responsibility to set the right example for kids.

Ald. Edward Burke is standing up for Chicago’s kids precisely because others haven’t. His ordinance will help bring Major League Baseball into line with the minor leagues, which banned tobacco use in 1993, and the NCAA, which prohibited it at college facilities the following year, as well as other professional sports leagues. Major League Baseball is lagging behind on this, and it’s time for elected officials to act in the public interest.

Kathy M. Tynus, president, Chicago Medical Society

Matthew L. Myers, president, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Nihilistic youth

So young liberals on Friday went to Trump political events in St Louis and Chicago with the sole intent of shutting down political speech they disagreed with and used violence and other disruptive tactics in order to achieve their goal.

I note the aged Bill Ayers was among the protesters outside the Pavilion Fridaym and it is clear that the youthful left is just as nihilistic and totalitarian as it was in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Can the equivalent of Ayers’ Weather Underground be far behind?

No matter what your opinions of Mr. Trump are, the right to political speech is vital to any republic and the tactics being used by today’s young and supposedly “tolerant” liberals cannot be tolerated.

Gerald Shinn, Pilsen

Leading the way

With the CPS in constant crisis, Chicago State University on the verge of closing, city worker pension funds in deficit, and gang warfare and murder at an all time high, it’s comforting to know that Ald. Edward Burke is leading the way in proposing legislation to keep Jake Arrieta from using smokeless tobacco in the dugout at Wrigley Field. At least it’s something he CAN fix!

Michael McCune, Tinley Park

Not the enemy

I am a City of Chicago employee. I am not the enemy, I am not the problem. You, the government, have been raiding my pension fund whenever you need money. You, the Government, mismanaged your money. I pay into my retirement every paycheck, I follow the rules you set up and we agreed to. Now you want to blame me for our state’s/city’s money woes and steal from my retirement?

Jeff Johnson, president, Municipal Employees Society

Good column

Regarding Gene Lyons Opinion page (Saturday) “Understanding ‘Moral Molecules’ Of Our Pets,” I have but a one-word opinion: Amen!

Marvin Pearlman, Skokie

Ensure funding

As the budget (FY17) moves forward in the Congress I am writing this to encourage Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin to ensure funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, malaria, GAVI and our nutrition aid such as Feed the Future. The U.S. has been the leader in supporting these programs which enabled 8.1 million people living with AIDS to receive treatment, reduce 3.1 million transmissions of HIV/AIDS for mother to child, and provided 548 million bed nets to reduce malaria transmission. The GAVI fund has helped to ensure that 20 million children receive life saving immunizations for polio, and measles. The U.S. leadership through it Feed the Future program has also sparked a targeted global commitment to help people feed themselves, which focuses on gender equality and to reduce stunting rates due to lack of food for women and children.

With funding of less than 1 percent of the budget the U.S. has been able to identify problems and places where aid can be best used to improve the lives of those most in need. Thus global poverty and global health issues have been dramatically reduced. As a professor who teaches global health I have had the opportunity to show my students what an impact this type of U.S aid with its ability to identify, target and distribute technology, knowhow and resources has had all over the world. We as American believe that everyone deserves an equal chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and that where you came from does not determine your future. Please help to ensure that Senators Kirk and Durbin protect and continue financial support of these programs like the Global Fund and Feed the Future so we can continue to support these values for everyone no matter where they live.

La Vonne A. Downey, assistant professor, Roosevelt University