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Wednesday, April 1, 2015: Tobacco control program, climate change, drug courts


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Tobacco control

Today is April Fools’ Day – but that’s no reason to be fooled into thinking that investments in primary care as a method of tobacco control can take the place of investments in comprehensive tobacco prevention and control program.

Troublingly, Gov. Paul LePage’s biennial budget proposes a cut of more than $5.7 million to the state’s tobacco control program — equivalent to nearly a 70 percent cut in state funding and more than 60 percent of overall funding for tobacco prevention and control efforts. The fact is that continued efforts to divert funding away from important prevention programs, especially the tobacco control program, interfere with the state’s ability to prevent chronic diseases like cancer.

As an advocate with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, I urge our legislators to oppose the governor’s proposed false choice between investing in primary care and investing in tobacco control. Don’t be fooled: The cuts to tobacco control program funding contained in LePage’s budget are likely to have a detrimental impact on the prevention of cancer and will result in more Mainers dying prematurely from tobacco-related illnesses.

Marianne Moore

Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

Calais

Moral courage

Questions for BDN readers: When a politician runs for elective office and voters ask, “what can you do for me?” Ask whether these people were raised by overprotective parents?

I am against legalizing marijuana. When you have 3,000 MaineCare patients being treated at methadone clinics, you ask yourself, “how many started out smoking marijuana?”

Men must gain the moral courage to say “no” to downloading porn and visiting strip clubs.

I believe there is a very strong link between viewing porn and the hundreds of young adults being sexually assaulted each year.

Philosopher Edmund Burke once said, ”all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

Joseph Riitano Sr.

Sangerville

No new taxes

Bangor City Councilor Ben Sprague has proposed a local option sales tax. It’s about using resources wisely. Cut spending and waste and stop thinking along the lines of money taxation grab. It’s easy to spend other people’s money while the common folk of Maine pay more for food, power and many other utilities.

If there was a boat loaded with tea in Bangor on the Penobscot River, I’m a sure that a large contingency would be dumping tea protesting this tax philosophy.

Christian McGinn

Parkman

Senior center thanks

Now that I’m retired, I’ve been exploring the wide array of activities offered at the Hammond Street Senior Center in downtown Bangor. My favorites are yoga and dance, but other great choices abound for nominal fees, including classes in painting, pottery and music; computer lessons; a fitness center; special seminars and trips; dinner and movie nights; and a chance to write, direct or perform in the annual play, which is usually sold out.

The best part, however, has been meeting so many compatible members and forging new friendships. We share experiences and enjoy dining jaunts around the city. I wonder how many Bangor-area residents are aware of what a jewel the Hammond Street Senior Center has become and what exciting opportunities await there. A big thanks to staff who provide a much-needed and exceptional community for seniors.

Jean Adamson

Hampden

Breathe clean air

Clean air and water is all anybody really wants, right? It’s a fight that many environmentalists have struggled with for many years. Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency has created the Clean Power Plan, which is said to be the biggest step concerning climate change America has taken. It not only reduces the amount of harmful chemicals and toxins released into the environment but the Environmental Protection Agency also proposes a long term goal to cut power plant pollution from carbon by 30 percent in the next 15 years.

This might seem like an insignificant act, but in reality, many people are pleased by it. It not only makes the air cleaner to breathe, but also the water cleaner to drink.

Asthma in kids and adults can be triggered by the pollution in the air, and contaminated water can cause serious illness. With all the pollution from the power plants rising up into the atmosphere, the climate starts to increase in temperature. So far, the global temperature has risen 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is in fact quite a significant number that we don’t want to see increasing.

Feeling as though Maine is getting colder and not warmer can be linked to climate change as well for all types of weather patterns become altered and affect the environments in which they are present. We can help slow this catastrophic process down by showing support for a cleaner environment and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Paige Theberge

Union

Improve drug treatment

Rep. Adam Goode is proposing bill LD 20, “An Act to Improve Substance Abuse Treatment.” This bill establishes a pilot drug court treatment program in the Penobscot County court located in Bangor. This legislation needs community support, as it could reduce recidivism in the criminal justice system due to substance abuse related crimes.

It is a known fact that the trafficking of drugs and resulting addiction are an increasing problem throughout Maine. This problem has led to the overcrowding of jails with nonviolent offenders. There are many costs linked to the use of illicit substances, including emergency room visits, criminal prosecutions, homelessness, child welfare and mortality. Many costs are also incurred during incarceration when prisoners receive food, medical treatment and mental health treatment.

Many counties have operating drug courts, except Penobscot County, which has been a central location for drug related problems. A cost benefit analysis done by Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2008 estimated that “for every dollar spent on addiction treatment programs, there is a $4 to $7 reduction in the cost of drug-related crimes.”

Reasons to support LD 20 include: 1) Decreased costs due to recidivism; 2) Decreased costs in the state Department of Health and Human Services; 3) Increase of substance abuse treatment alternatives; 4) Assisting individuals in obtaining recovery from addiction and leading productive lives as active citizens in our communities; and 5) We can’t afford not to support substance abuse treatment services.

Travis Lenfest

Bangor


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