Tennessee Nicothrax

To the Editor:

With tobacco killing more than 8,000 Americans each week and 9,359 Tennesseans each year, the flood of anthrax concerns is almost laughable. The real death-generator isn't isolated particles of anthrax but massive quantities of weapons-grade nicotine -- earth's most addictive particle. All illegal drugs combined may claim 200 Americans a week and most states provide users of such drugs with free, quality clinical treatment. But with nicotine, we simply turn our heads and let them die.

Almost 90 percent of nicotine users became addicted as youths. The fatality rate for those who fail to quit is 50 percent. Are politicians concerned for them or is death simply their punishment for messing with nicotine as children?

The Taliban government deals in opium; ours prefers nicotine. Last year America subsidized tobacco's growth while taking over $11 billion in nicotine taxes. Politicians pocketed millions in tobacco industry contributions and the states continued their partnership under a $246 billion agreement that grants Big Tobacco a license to continue to addict over 900,000 teens annually.

Our legislators are using the $246 billion for every cause except helping those addicted to break free. Our political system has built-in conflicts of interest against treating those hooked on tobacco. It's an endless greed-feed cycle and the food is us!

Clinical programs are generating 40 to 50 percent one-year cessation rates. The nicotine patch has an almost 90 percent failure rate at six months. Knowledge is power. We must make it morally wrong for politicians to accept tobacco contributions either before or after voting on tobacco revenue or treatment measures. They're either for us or against us.

John R. Polito

Summerville, South Carolina

Not amused

To the Editor:

I read David Dawson's latest article ("As the Worm Turns," October 27th issue) and couldn't believe what I was seeing. If Germantown city officials really start trying to censor the Internet they'll rue the day forever. The proposed GIT ordinance and the absurd attempt to make the Internet "pure, quiet, and dignified" are just too crazy to believe. Why don't they just start opening residents' mail. It's unbelievable.

Woody Norris


Editor's note: Yes, it is unbelievable. It's called humor.

Waving the Flag

To the Editor:

I support the actions of President Bush and I stand in amazement that some of my fellow countrymen are demonstrating and saying we should stop all strikes against the Taliban.

This is not Vietnam. Those people came to our land, attacked our buildings, and murdered thousands of innocent people. How can anyone justify asking our nation not to fight back? We did not start this war but we will prevail! I will support our troops and show my colors every day until this ends.

Melanie M. Green

Shelbyville, Tennessee

Patriotism Is Action

To the Editor:

I am so sick of this "proud to be a flag-waving, God-blessed American" hokum I am ready to hurl. Sticking a flag on your car does not make you a patriot. Your "God Bless America" T-shirt doesn't impress me. If you want to show your patriotism, wear a Band-Aid on the inside of your elbow to show you gave blood. Sell your gas-guzzling SUV and buy an American-made economy car. And don't buy it at a dealership running "buy a car from me to help the war effort" commercials. They are war profiteers and should be boycotted.

At a time when it is vital to our national interest that we convince the world we are not launching a holy war against Islam, plastering the country with God Bless America signs is counterproductive. Using this crisis to weaken the wall of separation between church and state is unprincipled, un-American, and plays into the hands of our enemies. Most of the terrorist-harboring nations are theocracies. This is no time to turn America into one.

Religious fanaticism is the cause of this crisis, not the solution. Patriotism is action, not flags, signs, and songs.

Michael B. Conway


The Memphis Flyer encourages reader response. Send mail to: Letters to the Editor, POB 1738, Memphis, TN 38101. Or call Back Talk at 575-9405. Or send us e-mail at All responses must include name, address, and daytime phone number. Letters should be no longer than 250 words.


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