Letters for Oct. 9

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Keep children from smoking

To the Editor:

Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in Colorado and the nation. Secondhand smoke, a dangerous by-product of smoking, is the No. 1 cause of indoor air pollution and the third-leading cause of death. Annually, 440,000 deaths in the United States can be attributed to tobacco related illnesses -- including more than 4,000 Coloradans each year. Because of cheap and easy access to cigarettes, more than 10,000 Colorado teens become regular smokers every year. Ninety percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 19 (average age of first use in Colorado is 11) and one in three who started smoking as teens will die prematurely because of it.

The financial costs of tobacco use are enormous. Tobacco costs Colorado more than $1 billion annually in health care expenses; $249 million is spent on Colorado Medicaid costs directly related to tobacco use each year -- a cost of $501 to each and every Colorado household every year. Yet, at $0.20 per pack of cigarettes, Colorado has the lowest cigarette tax in the entire country -- behind all 50 states including the tobacco growing states and the District of Columbia.

Raising the excise tax on cigarettes by 64 cents and other tobacco products (chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco and cigars, etc.) by 20 percent would put Colorado's cost for cigarettes and other tobacco products in line with the national average. The tobacco tax will generate about $175 million per year in new revenues. Thirty-nine percent of low-income children in Colorado lack health insurance. Forty-six percent of the tax money raised ($80.5 million) will provide Medicaid support and health insurance for needy Colorado children and families, and 19 percent ($33.25 million) is designated to provide comprehensive primary care through community health centers and other clinics serving a high portion of the uninsured and medically indigent.

Colorado state tobacco prevention program funding at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has never been funded at the $25 million level, and during the past two years, Gov. Bill Owens and the Colorado Legislature have gutted state tobacco prevention and intervention program funding. Sixteen percent ($28 million) of the tax money raised will help to restore funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs that are proven to keep pre-teens and teens from ever starting to smoke and help smokers and other tobacco users quit. Sixteen percent more (another $28 million) will fund prevention, early detection and treatment of heart and lung diseases, and cancer. Three percent ($5.25 million) will go to Colorado's general fund, old age pension fund and municipal and county governments for health-related expenses and to compensate for anticipated tax revenue reductions due to lower tobacco use once the new tax is in place.

Increasing the price of cigarettes will lead tens of thousands of Coloradans to quit their tobacco use, will raise millions to support health care and will promote proven programs that keep youths away from cigarettes.

Sincerely,

Cindy Biskup

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition

Thanks for homecoming help

To the Editor:

We would like to extend a big thank you for the support given to Grand Futures Prevention Coalition's Homecoming 2004 "Don't Flush Your Future" float. Thanks to Sign Source, Masterworks Mechanical, Challenger Motorsports, Craig Police Department, Moffat County High School, Brodie Schulze and Jake and Jory Steele.

As always, we will continue to promote prevention efforts to ensure our community remains a healthy and safe place for our young people to grow. It is gratifying to know that our community believes in our work. Thanks again.

Most sincerely,

Misty Schulze

Underage Drinking Grant lead coordinator

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition

A vote for Greg Walcher

To the Editor:

After reading articles in newspapers regarding the upcoming election and how our Republican candidate, Greg Walcher, will give District 3's water away, I felt a responsibility to address who can best represent Congressional District 3.

I have known Walcher since he was on the staff of our honorable and very capable Sen. Bill Armstrong in Washington, D.C. Whenever ranchers, such as myself, and other free-enterprise industry representatives went to Washington, Walcher was always very helpful in introducing us to senators and congressmen that could help us. Walcher's word is his bond, and you can depend on him.

Walcher knows that the "first dollars" come out of the ground, whether it is ranching and farming, timber cutting, oil and gas drilling, or mining -- all representing natural resources and all needing water. Colorado's natural resources are predominantly on the Western Slope and in District 3. Walcher is not going to short these industries nor the people whose very survival depends on them.

Water and Resolution A has been the big issue in this political race. A lot of bad publicity has been circulated about Walcher who was supporting his then boss, Gov. Bill Owens. I have people working for me, and if they don't agree with me or do the opposite of what I have requested that they do, and then they will need to be looking for another job.

I know there are some good Republicans that feel Walcher was wrong on the water issue, when what he did was what he had to do as a staff person for Governor Owens. (He probably felt that "A" would not pass anyway.)

Walcher has been a leader for Club 20 and has gone to Washington, D.C., and to Denver many times to successfully lobby our resolutions.

Let's not let this Congressional seat be taken by the other party. I know the Salazar brothers, and I like them and respect them, but I don't want to let our president down. We need to keep the Republican majority in both houses. I know that the people of District 3 will be better represented by Walcher. He has the experience and knows how and when he can introduce or vote against legislation that is good or bad for us.

Sincerely,

Nick Theos,

chairman

Rio Blanco County Republican Party

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