In praise of the CVS decision
I applaud the decision announced Wednesday by the pharmacy chain CVS that it will stop selling tobacco products at its 7,600 locations in the U.S., including 296 in Indiana; this is good news for Hoosiers and their families. CVS will phase out sales by Oct. 1.
Ready access to tobacco products is a major cause of tobacco addiction among our youth. Restricting access at a major pharmacy chain will help Indiana lower our high smoking rates among youth and adults, including pregnant women.
Today, CVS is a health care provider with about 35 partnerships with health systems and health insurers across the country. To expand such partnerships CVS and other pharmacy chains must work in concert with health providers, hospitals, public health partners and health insurers to prevent disease and promote more cost-effective care. Selling tobacco is not consistent with these goals.
The enormous economic cost of tobacco use, which in Indiana is approximately $4.7 billion annually, including $487 million in our Indiana Medicaid program, requires new thinking and bold action to lessen the devastation of tobacco addiction and disease.
The CVS decision is a bold, decisive action, the impact of which will likely spur other pharmacy chains and related business to eliminate tobacco from their stores. Americans and Hoosiers will benefit from this action for decades to come. As a tireless advocate of tobacco cessation, I think it is very admirable to see a corporation act with such integrity and place deeds and the health of our communities over profits.
— Stephen J. Jay, M.D.
Professor Emeritus IU School of Medicine
All pharmacies should follow CVS
I applaud CVS for making the easy decision to discontinue selling tobacco products.
It’s about time. The dangers of tobacco use are clear. As mentioned in the article, JR Pharmacies have never sold tobacco products. Good for them. When my wife and I bought our former pharmacy in March 1983, we banned smoking in the store and got rid of the cigarette display on our first day as owners. What took CVS so long? And why wait until October? Stop sales now.
Health care providers such as pharmacies have an ethical obligation not to sell harmful products such as tobacco and alcohol. The state of Indiana should slap a $10 per pack tax on cigarettes to try to deter smoking. All pharmacies should follow the lead established back in 1983 and stop sales of tobacco products and e-cigarettes.
— Joseph Lugar Jr., Terre Haute
Stop canned deer hunts from becoming legal
Once again we see legislation aimed at allowing canned hunting here in Indiana. Senate Bill 404 sponsored by Sen. Carlin Yoder, a Republican from Middlebury, passed out of committee along party line votes last week. It is feared to have a chance of passing as Sen. David Long, who previously held the bill, has now allowed it to proceed.
Shooting captive, farm-raised deer for money has always been illegal, which is why proponents have made attempts to legalize it in the legislature since 2000. For over a decade, state Rep. Bill Friend, whose business associate was arrested and convicted of selling illegal deer hunts of captive deer in federal court, has pushed for legalization of this activity.
In 2007, with the blessing of Gov. Mitch Daniels, the DNR through administrative rules made it crystal clear that Indiana does not allow the hunting of tame, farm-raised deer for nothing more that trophy antlers for large sums of money. Even after the Daniels administration action, the canned hunting industry lead by Farm Bureau Inc., has continued to promote and push legislation to allow canned deer hunting.
Deer farms have continued to increase despite the 2007 ban on hunts. In 2000 we had 193 people with game breeder permits, in 2007 the number was 237, and since Daniels’ action, it still has risen to 364. Since 2007, the state has also seen 98 reported captive deer escapes, TB was found in three captive herds, and there was a deer brought from Pennsylvania that had been exposed to a mad cow like disease that escaped and has not been found.
A further injustice is that taxpayer and sportsmen dollars are being used to compensate deer farmers for deer that had to be destroyed because they were found to have a disease or exposed to a disease. The deer farm industry despite being told “no” still continues to push for canned hunts because that is the only real market that they have, since most consumers won’t pay the high price for deer and do not like its taste as compared to other meats.
Gov. Pence stated in a speech that Hoosiers value and appreciate their animals. Hoosiers need to call and write Gov. Pence, and their state senators and representatives and tell them Hoosier values don’t include shooting tame, farm-raised animals for sport and trophies as this is “not hunting nor farming,” it is an unfair act.
We must stop it from becoming legal.
— Doug Allman, Indiana Deer Hunters Association, Fishers
When judgment is vindicated
Several years ago, Dr. Khwaja Hasan characterized a remark of mine as “vulgar.” In a letter to the editor, I had suggested Dr. Ramachandra Abhyankar was ahead of most Muslims in the study of Islam. I did not intend this as pejorative, demeaning, bigoted or vulgar, but simply something I would say about any scholar who has studied any religion in depth for many years.
For the most part, rank and file members of any religion, whether Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Hindu, Mormon, etc., are not scholars but just followers/believers of their parents’ religion and so attend services by rote, as it were, without delving into the complexities of their religion’s history, ideology, holy books and controversies, which are the realm of the scholar.
Winston Churchill allegedly said that the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. George Will writes in The Washington Post that “only 30 percent of Americans can name their two senators. The average American expends more time becoming informed about choosing a car than choosing a candidate. In a 2008 Zogby poll, only 42 percent could name the three branches of the federal government.”
Let us say a French scholar copiously criticized Americans. Would that be “vulgar”? In fact, a French scholar did indeed write a two-volume critical study in his own language (1835 and 1840) called “Democracy in America.” The author: Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859). It has since become a classic still widely read and greatly admired.
Needless to say, I took umbrage at the insult, but resisted the urge to retaliate. I did not want to extend a sometimes bitter debate.
Looking over the history of the Muslim Brotherhood since it was founded in Egypt in 1928, I found it had attempted a number of times to assume greater power but was defeated in this aspiration.
Recently we have yet again seen the Brotherhood’s bold presumption to attain power, only to see its defeat yet again by the interim military government. Moreover, Defense Minister General Sisi, apparently on behalf of that power, has audaciously called for not only reform in Egypt but reform for Islam itself. Not exactly a new idea since other Muslims, as well as ex-Muslims and non-Muslims, have petitioned for the same reform.
Including Dr. Abhyankar. I feel this vindicates my judgment that allies him with the most knowledgeable and progressive thinkers of Islam based on his long study of the subject — no matter how their vision may conflict with the rank and file members of that religion, and no matter how long the arduous journey — years, decades? — it may take for that reform to gain some traction within the rank and file. Such a reform has the potential of seismic changes that could mean greater rights for Islamic women, for democracy, for diversity, and for peace in the world instead of a reversal of progress that could mean a return to Sharia law, fundamentalism and the perpetuity of jihad.
General Sisi has dared to propose a fearless and courageous reformation redolent of both Martin Luther and the distinguished leadership of Nelson Mandela.
Concerning the Brotherhood, consider the following from Wikipedia:
“The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Ismailia, Egypt by Hassan al-Banna in March 1928 as an Islamist religious, political, and social movement. The group spread to other Muslim countries but has its largest, or one of its largest, organizations in Egypt, where for many years it has been the largest, best-organized, and most disciplined political opposition force, despite a succession of government crackdowns in 1948, 1954, 1965 after plots, or alleged plots, of assassination and overthrow were uncovered. Following the 2011 Revolution the group was legalized, and in April 2011 it launched a civic political party called the Freedom and Justice Party to contest elections.”
— Saul Rosenthal, Terre Haute
American kids are behind in learning
I am writing in response to the very interesting letter written by Dr. Anil Sarkar. His excellent letter appeared in the Nov. 28 issue of the Tribune-Star.
I agree wholeheartedly with his comments about our public schools in this country. We are definitely behind schools in other countries, and it is a shame that this has happened with all the money spent on our schools. I taught in a third-world country several years ago, and the attitude of the students was certainly different. These students took their education seriously, and their values were very different than the values of American students. They were brought up to respect books, teachers and the entire educational system. They did not have extra-curricular activities within the schools. If they wanted to play soccer, cricket, tennis, etc., they played after school hours. School was for books and studying only. They did not have anything in their schools to distract them from their studies. Most of their parents did not spoil them with material things that they could not afford. Parents instilled in their children the importance of scholarship.
I also taught for several years in a California high school. Here, I was involved with a high school exchange program called American Field Service. AFS was an exchange program for students between 16 and 18 years of age. We sent one or two of our students each year, and we received students of the same age from many foreign countries. They were always placed in the last year of high school. These students coming to our high schools always had to make up this year when they returned to their native countries. This was due to our schools being too easy for them.
There might be an exception in a few cases, depending on the country. The year was a vacation for the foreign students coming here, but they did have many valuable experiences while here. Our students going abroad had not only the language barrier to work on, but also some tough subjects to study.
I am reminded of the experience that Oprah Winfrey had with her girls school in South Africa. When she began working with these girls, she provided them with many luxuries. These gifts included cell phones. Oprah would visit them periodically in their South African school, and she and the girls would always sit together and discuss life and their new school. After she provided them with the cell phones, she went back on a visit. She noticed that the girls did not come out to chat with her, as they were busy talking on their cell phones. It was then that she realized that she had overdone it with the gifts.
I know from these experiences that our high schools certainly are not the best in the world.
— Betty Niswonger-Green
Donate healthy foods to the ‘Y’
I read about the healthy weight-loss campaign of the YMCA, which is a well-intentioned cause.
However, it suggests donating peanut butter and Vienna sausage. Both products are very high in fat, which is not conducive to weight loss, and the sausage has a lot of bad saturated fat.
Elvis Presley loved peanut butter, and he had weight gain and a heart attack with early death. Why not suggest donating PB2, which is a peanut butter powder with most of the fat removed, and silken tofu, which is made of soybeans and is high in protein? With these products a child could eat more and not worry about portion size, which is a problem with the regular peanut butter and Vienna sausage.
It’s wonderful to donate food to the hungry school children of Vigo County, but why not make it healthier choices?
— Bill Cain, Terre Haute
Be skeptical with facts concerning sex assaults
Rep. Christina Hale is correct in her assertion that children have the right to be safe. No sane person can disagree. However, before readers of her recent Flashpoint essay accept the hyperbole of the “facts” upon which she has based her quest, it would serve us well to examine her claims.
It is interesting to note that the Obama administration, less than two weeks ago, issued “A Renewed Call to Action to End Rape and Sexual Assault.” Whether the White House statement was a cynical ploy to rev up the college age demographic cannot be proven. However, the skeptical among us not only question the timing of Ms. Hale’s “campaign,” but also its originality.
Is this, perhaps, an attempt to create another “crisis” requiring the intervention of an omniscient, benevolent government? Or, in Ms. Hale’s words, “create legislation” that is at best a political tool to keep her name in the news. I question how one “increases reporting” and how that would better connect victims with services. Additionally, she would like to authorize and fund a study to collect information that will prevent this from happening. What information could she possibly believe has not been collected in the past? What, for that matter, are you trying to prevent happening?
Rep. Hale used CDC numbers from 2008 to claim 10.5 percent of high school aged girls were assaulted or raped nationwide. She claimed that nearly 1 in 6 Hoosier girls has been assaulted or raped. If that is so, then approximately 1 in 6 Hoosier boys are guilty of sexual assault or rape. No one is tracking down these vicious sex offenders? Let us look closely at those numbers.
According to the Center for Disease Control Studies for 2010, 1.3 million American women were raped with perhaps another 12 million men and women sexually assaulted. The DOJ reports 270,000 rapes and sexual assaults that year. While that number is far too large, there exists a statistically significant disparity in the claims that should be addressed.
One explanation for this startling aberration may be in the source of the data acquired. A recent Washington Post commentary pointed out that the CDC derived their data through interviews and surveys. The questions themselves suggest a search for a desired answer.
For instance, one sample of women was asked, “When you were drunk, drugged or passed out and unable to consent, how many people had sex with you?” There is no differentiation here between married couples having sex while inebriated or a girl who is actually raped.
Studies such as these should be taken with a grain of salt or better yet, ignored. Likewise, while sexual assault is a serious issue, the politically correct mentality forced upon teachers and administrators do not allow common sense to prevail. A kindergarten girl kissing a first-grade boy is considered “sexual assault.” This type of nonsense must stop.
Another item that Rep. Hale should consider addressing is the sex offender registry. How many young men are on that list because they were 18 at the time they had sex with a 16- or 17-year-old girl they had been dating with the knowledge of parents. Be very careful when making allegations about which you appear to know very little.
While the concerns of lawmakers such as Rep. Hale may be commendable, it may be more beneficial to address issues that can be resolved rather than spending money for redundant studies and writing legislation that gives many legislators and their financial supporters a warm and fuzzy feeling.
— Edward Kesler, West Terre Haute