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Tobacco-free parks improve public health

The Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition congratulates leaders of our New York State Parks system for taking the right step to protect our kids from secondhand smoke by declaring playgrounds, recreation areas and other areas smoke-free. Signs and a strong enforcement policy will educate smokers about the new rules and allow all visitors to enjoy our shared outdoor environment.

It is worth noting all of the forward-thinking municipalities in Erie and Niagara counties that have established some level of tobacco-free rules in their parks. We believe actions taken by the cities of Niagara Falls and Lackawanna; towns of Alden, Amherst, Clarence, Eden, Colden, Lancaster, Orchard Park, Royalton and Tonawanda; villages of Angola, East Aurora, Kenmore, North Collins, Springville, Williamsville and Wilson have contributed to this important decision made by state parks leaders.

The U.S. surgeon general has clearly established that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke, and tobacco waste is one of the largest sources of litter found on our planet. With natural green space at a premium in our urban and suburban communities, tobacco-free parks provide a clean, healthy, family-friendly setting for recreation, fitness and relaxation. We look forward to the time when all our parks are 100 percent tobacco-free.

Anthony G. Billoni

Director, Erie Niagara

Tobacco-Free Coalition

Roswell Park Cancer Institute


Touching story reports great words of wisdom

Referring to Jay Tokasz's article in the April 7 News, "Offering wisdom in 25 words or less," his write-up took me by surprise and awe. I was touched by the special report concerning numerous churches throughout our area with strong and convicting statements on their billboards. The messages go to the heart of the laity, intriguing them with the power of the Gospel in a nutshell.

A local church in my community, Curtis Park United Presbyterian Church on Woodland Drive in the Town of Tonawanda, carried an intriguing message a short time ago: "No God -- No Peace. Know God -- Know Peace." The power of those words makes one stop and think of the strength and the truth of the Gospel message that it reiterates. A scriptural message speaks well of this article: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

Doris V. Neumann



Let's educate drivers about Move Over law

I've read the two recent letters in this column about New York State's Move Over law. While I agree with the intent of this law, I feel it is flawed. It should be called "slow down and move over, if possible." I have witnessed one accident and four near accidents directly attributed to motorists moving out of their lane while approaching a law enforcement vehicle with its lights on.

The accident occurred on the Youngmann Highway. A state trooper had pulled over a car at the entrance of an exit. Traffic was fairly heavy, and for many of the motorists, moving over wasn't an option, but some did. One of the motorists who did so wanted to exit, and upon clearing the state trooper tried to make the exit, making a two-lane crossover. Unfortunately, other motorists who had slowed down were caught totally off guard by the car and slammed on their brakes, causing a four-car pileup.

One of the near accidents was on a two-lane country road where the speed limit was 55. The trooper had a car pulled over just before the crest of a hill. The car in front of me slowed and moved over, crossing a double yellow line. Upon reaching the crest of that hill, a pickup truck traveling in the other direction, who couldn't see the trooper's lights, suddenly had a car right there in his lane. Both vehicles braked hard and swerved in opposite directions, avoiding what could have been a very tragic accident. Double yellow lines are there for a good reason, and every motorist relies on that. I never heard of a law that makes it OK to cross a double yellow line.

I want our law enforcement and emergency personnel to be as safe as possible; everybody does. But the law should be changed to "slow down and move over, if possible." If that is the intent of the law, then law enforcement officials have done a very poor job of conveying that message, because the average person thinks it's "slow down and move over" or get a ticket.

Norm Brodfuehrer



Few bad apples have spoiled beach for all

Just a note to thank the underage drinkers and their friends whose disregard for public space has forced the closing off of access to Bennett Beach. Your graffiti, litter, smashing of windows, and general disregard for others tells ever so much about your prospects for future success in life. Your parents must be proud.

Marty Walters



Patients need advocate on medical procedures

On April 4, The News ran an Associated Press article about the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation's new Choosing Wisely program. The program highlights 45 specific medical tests and procedures that physician groups say are commonly used by doctors but are not always necessary or prudent for patients.

As a physician for 34 years, I'm in full agreement that overuse and abuse is a chronic problem that drives up costs and diminishes the quality of care patients receive. In fact, I work for a company called MedSolutions that has been at the forefront of addressing this issue for more than a decade.

Medical societies have long provided clinical guidelines designed to aid doctors' decision-making on these very tests. The challenge is that their use has been inconsistent, and doctors are not held accountable for applying them in every case. In fact, even with the wide breadth of guidelines available today, one-third of imaging studies, like MRIs and CTs, are still ordered inappropriately.

Education of both doctors and patients is an important part of the solution, but it's not enough on its own. While patients can and should ask questions of their doctors, they lack the clinical background to really push back. Patients need a knowledgeable, independent advocate who can ask the same questions about the necessity and benefits of testing that this campaign encourages, while holding doctors accountable for making good decisions.

We need to apply evidence-based clinical guidelines to patient care. Together, we can make sure patients get the care they need.

Gregg P. Allen, M.D. FAAFP

Chief Medical Officer