Virginia Gov. James Gilmore's plan to use tobacco settlement money for roadways [editorial, Sept. 1] goes against the intent of the master settlement agreement and should not be implemented. With so many of his constituents, especially youth, falling to tobacco addiction every day, it is critical that the governor resist spending tobacco settlement money on transportation initiatives.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly made tremendous strides in allocating settlement dollars to address the issue of teen smoking. Now Gov. Gilmore has a unique opportunity to protect Virginians and save lives with the tobacco settlement funds. The intent of the states' suit against the tobacco industry was to recover funds to offset Medicaid costs of treating smoking-related diseases. The master settlement agreement itself emphasizes that settling states "have agreed to settle their respective lawsuits and potential claims pursuant to terms which will achieve . . . significant funding for the advancement of public health, and the implementation of important tobacco-related public health measures."

Gov. Gilmore should use the remaining allocated funds exclusively for improving the health of the commonwealth's citizens, not the roadways they travel.


Newport News, Va.

The writer is a past president of the board of directors of the American Heart Association's Mid-Atlantic Affiliate.

Reading "Jurors Vent Outrage at Industry; Verdicts Against Tobacco, Gun Firms Stake Out New Legal Territory" [front page, Aug. 30], I was concerned that jurors would assume the role of "legislating" that ought to be reserved for Congress. But then I realized that The Post's article made a serious omission.

It didn't mention that the main reason for the "legislative vacuum on tobacco and guns" is corporate irresponsibility in spending billions of dollars to sway legislators. Congress would not be at an impasse, and these suits would not be in the courts, if campaign finance laws were adopted to restore balance in legislative debates.

In the meantime, it is telling that relatively neutral jurors, faced with more equal presentations by lawyers, have begun to rule against tobacco and gun manufacturers.


Accokeek, Md.