It was frustrating to read in the June 20 Maine Sunday Telegram that Maine’s teen smoking rate is on the rise after years of decline.

Joe Richards, who started smoking when he was 16, was quoted as telling his 10-year-old sister to “never start smoking.” Joe says he is never going to quit because he “can’t,” which probably translates to “I won’t” or “I don’t want to.”

I urge Joe to have the same regard for his own health that he has for his sister’s.

The only thing that will keep him from quitting is his defeatist attitude.

Yes, nicotine is perhaps the most addicting drug, and quitting is extremely difficult. Anyone who is motivated to stop smoking, though, has many resources available, including the Maine Tobacco Helpline (1-800-207-1230). Check it out, Joe!

One more thing. I would encourage any young person who is considering becoming a smoker to ask a teen smoker for advice.

With any luck, you will ask one of the (at least) 75 percent who regret their decision to start. Ask an older smoker and the odds are even better that you will be advised not to.

Whatever reason you might have for smoking, there is a smarter, healthier way to accomplish it. Be smart, don’t start.

Maddie Akeley

South Portland

Commercial water business is bad for the ‘commons’

Tony Payne views with alarm the effort to tax water extracted from an aquifer for private profit. (“Property rights issue swamps water debate,” June 20.)

“What’s yours is ours” he fears could become the state motto.

The more likely outcome of unlimited free use of a natural resource was described by Garrett Hardin as “the tragedy of the commons.” As each user of a finite common resource seeks to maximize his take-out, the commons is ultimately destroyed through overuse.

We are seeing this happening in the Gulf of Maine, in the world-wide “commons” of fresh water, if not in one specific aquifer in Maine. Although unseen, we also experience the depletion of clean air by unfettered discharge of some pollutants, including those contributing to global warming.

Stanley Freeman

Orono

In regard to Tony Payne’s last column, I’m sad to see that the Maine Sunday Telegram is now giving free ads to some business owners.

The author, Tony Payne, a former insurance vice president, is now the executive director of The Alliance for Maine’s Future, which claims to be a nonpartisan organization.

The board of directors of AMF is made up of executives of very large lumber, real estate and transportation corporations and the vast majority of its funding comes from these and other major companies. So one could say that AMF is about as nonpartisan as FOX news is “fair and balanced.”

His point is that Poland Spring and others have a constitutional right to take as much water as they like without being taxed and that if they were even taxed one cent per gallon, it would result in reduced employment not only for that company but for most every other company in Maine.

Mineral, gas, oil and other natural resource extraction has long been taxed by most states and in many cases the federal government, because of the concept that the resources belong to everyone and that no individual or company should “rape” the land of resources without compensation to the citizens.

The Maine Sunday Telegram should not allow special interests to run free ads in your papers and disguise them as being “news.”

Joe Fitzpatrick

Alfred

Financial reform bill falls far short of the mark

From the reports I have read, the U.S. financial reform bill, which was supposed to prevent another Great 2008 Panic, which resulted in the transfer of trillions of taxpayer debt to the unstable mega banks (which they said were “too big to fail”) was a cosmetic charade, the only significant provision being a one-time audit of the Federal Reserve System.

It has been reported that the president’s Chief Economic Advisor Paul Volcker has recommended that the Glass-Steagall Act, which was rescinded in 1999, be revived, enabling banks to be separated from traders, brokers and speculators.

This would help. Why is it that this recommendation was not incorporated into the financial reform bill?

The most important of the many reforms needed to prevent another panic, however, is the need to change the laws which enable banks to hide their assets and liabilities from stockholders, investors and other stakeholders. David Wessel, of The Wall Street Journal, author of “In Fed we trust: Ben Bernanke’s war on the Great Panic,” writes:

“In 2006 Citibank’s off-balance sheet assets amounted to $2.1 trillion: its on-balance sheet assets were $1.8 trillion. Not only were these enormous loans hidden, but several top staffers confessed later that they hadn’t even heard the term ‘SIV’ (structured investment vehicles) until the end of July.”

The ability of banks to legally hide assets and liabilities from their stockholders, investors, employees and regulators is tantamount to legalized robbery, or legalized fraud.

How can Congress possibly ignore this problem that was a major cause of the Great Panic in the financial reform bill?

Randall Parr

Appleton

Maine lobstermen would benefit from Cutler’s approach to China

The June 19 story of a Chinese business delegation on a lobstering tour of Casco Bay with independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler illuminates the possibilities that global trade presents for Maine’s fishermen.

Currently, Maine’s lobstermen are encountering many difficulties. The protracted recession has driven the boat price paid to fishermen to record (relative) lows and is forcing fishermen to defer maintenance and forgo insurance and necessary investment in new equipment.

Maine’s lobstermen harvest around 70 million pounds annually, all caught in a responsible manner that is a model for sustainable fisheries management around the world.

However, most of this catch is exported to Canadian processors for marginal profit to the industry. Maine’s lobster industry needs to add value to the product in-state to ensure that profits are maximized and retained in the state.

Cutler’s experience in China helped bring this trade delegation to Maine and Maine fishermen are aware of the potential benefits to the long-term viability of the industry. The expansion of exports of Maine products is vital if Maine is to reinvent its economy in the 21st century.

At the close of the article, The Press Herald included a quote from the state Democrats’ campaign coordinator, Arden Manning, who sought to discredit Cutler’s Chinese trade mission efforts. Manning inferred that Cutler, who operated in China for well over two years, was out of touch with Maine fishermen and their concerns.

Perhaps someone should have told Manning that when a competent captain is at the wheel, the smartest thing you can do is shut up, pay attention and learn all you can.

I’ve been a commercial fisherman for 30 years and I think Cutler’s on to something good for the industry.

Peter Mayo

Bowdoinham