I was very disappointed and dismayed to see a full-page ad for American Spirit cigarettes in your April 15 issue. As I am sure you are aware, smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. — responsible for more than 480,000 deaths each year. It also causes untold suffering from the cancers, heart disease, respiratory diseases and other illnesses it leads to. Including cigarette advertising in your publication (even worse, advertising that implies that "made with organic tobacco ... grown on American soil ... additive-free natural tobacco" is somehow less harmful) is unconscionable, especially since much of Seven Days' target readership is college students and young adults. The only explanation for such a decision is simple greed for advertising dollars. Shame on you!
I will let your many advertisers know that I will no longer give them my business if they advertise in a publication that continues to promote such a harmful product. I hope other Seven Days readers who find your marketing decisions offensive will do the same. And I hope that you will reevaluate your advertising policy and drop any further cigarette advertising.
Editor's Note: Censoring ad content is a slippery slope, so we don't do it — unless the client is promoting hate, violence or an illegal product. Seven Days is a forum for free speech — in our advertisements, letters to the editor and personal ads — and is a reflection of the diversity of desires and beliefs in our community. Sometimes that means being tolerant of views we might not personally share. Advertising does indeed fund our newsgathering — the American Spirit ad shared an issue with a story about threats to the state's tobacco-control initiatives — and keeps Seven Days free. The paper targets an 18-plus audience. The average age of our readers is 35 — that is, old enough to make informed decisions about consuming regulated products such as tobacco, beer, wine and spirits. American Spirit has been a Seven Days advertiser since 2010.
In the historical section of "Curd Mentality" [April 22], Alice Levitt wrote "...women crafted farmstead cheese from the milk their husbands provided." Surely Levitt doesn't think that that's where milk comes from?
In Defense of Flatlanders
[Re "Long Shot: A Mother of Two Keeps the Gun Debate Alive," April 22]: I have not developed a clear position on the gun debate in Vermont; I am trying to learn more and generally keep an open mind. Yet I stopped in wonder when I read what Bob DePino of Gun Owners of Vermont, said in opposition to Ann Braden's campaign: "Don't try to change the state you move to." Another opponent cited a desire to preserve the sanctity of our state's culture. I truly believe that most folks involved in civic life are here to make Vermont a better place, regardless of where they came from or what they believe — and regardless of whether or not I agree with them! I think it's time we stopped belittling people and their ideas because they come from someplace else. You may need three — or four? or five? — generations in the ground to be a true woodchuck, but anyone can have common sense and good ideas.
Dues and Don'ts
["A Violent Sex Offender Is Released Into the Public Spotlight," April 22]: The heartfelt sorrow I feel for his victim is in no way lessened by the concern I have with Laws' release into a vindictive atmosphere of social ostracism. Around a quarter century ago, this person did something dastardly and horrific and was sentenced to a long prison term. Our judicial system has determined that he has completed his punishment for the crime. As distasteful as it may be for the public to acknowledge, what he needs now is regular counseling and assistance to reintegrate within society. Approaching the monster with torches and pitchforks will only create another tragedy.
Sorrell Should Resign
William Sorrell is an incompetent Vermont attorney general by virtue of his dismal and costly record and further demonstrated by Paul Heintz's well-researched commentary in the April 15 issue of Seven Days [Fair Game: "Gasoline Scheme"].
Sorrell has been on the losing side of multiple costly lawsuits filed on behalf of Vermont, but this situation with the belated MTBE lawsuit against oil companies and his shady campaign finance implications should be the final nail in his political coffin.
Sorrell has frequently demonstrated his incompetence, and he would be wise to resign his office. If he refuses to do so, voters must refuse to reelect him in 2016, should he decide to run again.
Thanks, Heintz, for your research, diligence and commitment to report yet another Sorrell legal travesty paid for by Vermont taxpayers.
Leave pot to the Pros
["Entrepreneurial Dream Team Sets Sights on Marijuana," April 15]: As an experienced business manager, I have watched in horror as marijuana activists have partially achieved their goal of legalization in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, etc., but then allowed the politicians and bureaucrats to set up the laws and regulations governing one of the fastest growing industries in history: the marijuana business. Seasoned business executives know how to analyze an almost infinitely complex business model and properly plan for every eventuality; politicians and bureaucrats haven't a clue. This is evident in the current chaos: lack of access to the banking system, conflict between federal and state laws, conflict between states and the cities and counties within them, etc. In all of those states, the marijuana industry should have started with a group of experienced business leaders, like those who have formed the Vermont Cannabis Collaborative, who will control the process to fruition.
Big Bear Lake, CA
In the April 15 issue, the review of Istanbul Kebab House was titled "Anatolian Enchantment." The word "Anatolian" was used as a geographical referent only. For those who may have been confused, the Kebab House is a Burlington restaurant owned by the Oktay family and is not connected in any way to Anatolian, another local business that sells packaged Turkish foods to retail and mail-order customers.