Letters to the Editor

Letters: Without transparency, there can be no trust for State College police

Defunding tobacco prevention programs will hurt Pennsylvanians

Tobacco prevention and control programs are at risk in Pennsylvania.

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States. It costs Pennsylvania $6.38 billion a year in health care and lost productivity, that’s more than $17 million a day.

Last year, more than 5,700 youth started vaping daily; despite this fact, and the fact that the U.S. Surgeon General declared an e-cigarette use epidemic among youth, some Pennsylvania lawmakers are seeking to defund these proven and effective programs in the Commonwealth.

Tobacco prevention and cessation programming funds have been ruthlessly redirected in the past. In 1998, Pennsylvania, along with 45 other states, entered into a Master Settlement Agreement with the tobacco industry. The agreement stated that the commonwealth will receive funding in perpetuity for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

Pennsylvania’s prevention and control programs work. The results are compelling.

The American Lung Association in Pennsylvania partners with Pathway to Recovery and the Northcentral Pennsylvania Area Health Education Center to provide comprehensive tobacco control services to Northcentral residents including prevention, cessation and smoke-free housing and worksite programs and services.

Not funding these programs will result in an increase of e-cigarette use by our youth, and more people will die from tobacco use. Lawmakers need to keep the promise made in 1998: that the MSA money will be spent on keeping people from a lifetime of addiction to save more lives.

Do the lives of Pennsylvania citizens mean more than its budget?

Chelsey Hildebrand, State College. The author is manager, health promotions, at the American Lung Association in Pennsylvania.

Others should follow commissioners’ lead on solar

As a member of the Citizens Climate Lobby I’m impressed with the Centre County Commissioners decision to install solar panels for Centre County Correctional Facility (CCCF). This will reduce a significant amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels to produce electricity for CCCF. The solar panels will have an immediate effect and pay for themselves within a few years. Surplus electricity will be sold back to utility companies. This long-range vision among our commissioners is rare in the current political environment. There is hope in the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan support for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (H.R. 763). Economic studies concluded this market-based approach will encourage energy innovation and return dividends to every household. On June 11th, 1,500 volunteers held 526 meetings with members of the house and senate to advance this bill.

The commissioners’ action should be taken as a challenge to other institutions in Centre County. Businesses, hospitals, schools, churches and retirement communities could make a good investment in solar panels. At least two churches are seeking proposals for solar panels. Penn State has two solar arrays producing significant amounts of electricity. Some solar farms have been started and they are selling electricity while using very little. Individual family homes have also had success. Solar panels protect against power outages, as well as, reducing use of fossil fuel generated electricity.

John Swisher, State College

Without transparency, there can be no trust for State College police

It has now been three months since police employed by the State College Borough shot and killed one of the few African-American men living in our community. The council initially talked of “transparency.” But they still refuse to release the names of their employees who killed a local resident. Is this transparency?

Around the country, we continue to see racist police killing and threatening black people. The latest example of this outrageous behavior comes from Phoenix, Arizona, where cops swore at and threatened to kill a black woman who was holding her baby. The offense: The police claimed her 4-year old shoplifted a doll. For this, they screamed obscenities at and threatened to kill the mother.

Does the Borough Council think we’re just going to forget about the Osagie killing? Do they think their cover-up will make us trust their police department? The actual effect will be the reverse: As far as the rest of us know, any Borough cop we encounter could be one of the ones involved in the shooting. Therefore, how can we trust any of them?

Robert Baillie, State College