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Minneapolis has been a leader in commercial tobacco prevention for decades, and now isn't the time to get cold feet. The proposed commercial tobacco ordinance before the Minneapolis City Council will protect our neighbors, especially those from historically marginalized communities whom the tobacco industry wants to keep addicted no matter the cost.

I've watched my father spend his last dollars on a pack of Newport menthol cigarettes using coupons from certain gas stations he knew had "good" deals. He looked for any deal or discount to make purchasing his pack easier. The tobacco industry knows that pushing price discounts and coupons in neighborhoods with more school-aged youth and Black residents will keep these groups from ever quitting. It's racist and predatory.
Council Member Andrea Jenkins claiming that smoking is a relief from "being Black in America" is dangerous. The industry wants Black people to believe that smoking, especially smoking menthols, is a way to destress, but the personal cost of smoking is huge, and racial health disparities only continue to get worse. We need other support systems in place.

And buying a cigar and then smoking it in a cigar lounge isn't sampling. Hanging out at a hookah bar for camaraderie's sake isn't sampling either. These stores shouldn't have been allowed in the first place. Closing the sampling loophole will hold all tobacco retailers to the same standard set by the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. I urge the council to support the proposed ordinance.

Greg Bess, Minneapolis


Easier said than done

I read with interest the letter "No phones in school. Duh" (Readers Write, April 23) asserting that this is an easy problem to solve. As a 25-year veteran of suburban high school teaching, I counter by asserting that this is the most difficult problem to solve. If we truly tried to end cellphone use (and my school did a number of years ago), teachers and administrators would spend every second of their days focused on this distraction. Teaching my kids about the Phillips curve? No. I need to stop and take a phone away. Teaching my kids about the Gilded Age? Again, no. Another kid is sneaking a look at their phone under their desk. Managing cellphone use of 2,500 students for eight hours a day is a full-time job. Our society has created a massive, attention-grabbing addiction, and asking schools to focus their efforts on the "easy" solution shows no understanding of the difficult reality that schools face.

Ryan Gau, Minneapolis


Justice is knocking

The jury selection for former President Donald Trump's trial was completed earlier than predicted. The Sunday Tribune article depicted the jurors so that they came alive, even though they remain anonymous and the information about each juror was brief ("Who's who in the courtroom," April 21). Juror 5 said that she appreciates Trump's candor and that he "speaks his mind." She also was quoted as saying, "I would rather that in a person than someone who's in office and you don't know what they're doing behind the scenes."

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of "candor" (related to being candid) is "straightforward honesty or frankness in speech or expression." The dictionary also lists one of many synonyms for candor as "outspokenness." Trump has no relationship to the "honesty" definition of candor. Everyone in the country knows this, including his supporters who seem to delight in saying, "Well, that is just Trump being Trump." He is the dictionary's synonym for candor of "outspokenness," often loudly shouting lies that make fun of people and create chaos in our country. We did not know what he did behind the scenes, only that he lied about what he was doing or what was reported by those who worked for him. Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton also lacked truth-telling candor, but not to the degree that Trump does!

He will get the justice he deserves — with the legal system and with the electorate.

Meri Hauge, New Brighton


I was very disappointed to see that the Star Tribune Sunday edition published detailed juror information sourced from the New York Times and Washington Post. These people deserve anonymity. On Thursday night, "The Daily Show" had a skit mocking mainstream media leaking too much juror information. After watching the skit, it was shocking to see the juror details in the Sunday Star Tribune. By being on the jury, the jurors are at risk for violence, as are their families, friends and co-workers. The details listed make it easy to identify them and their place of employment. The argument that the information is newsworthy falls flat. Zealous Trump supporters have threatened the judge, his family and the district attorney. Why add the jury pool to the list of potential targets? The lives of the mother and daughter who were 2020 Georgia election workers have been forever changed for the worse by threats following malicious lies about their election work spread by Rudy Giuliani and Trump himself.

Like a vicious rumor, not all available information needs to be repeated.

Michael Bennett, Eden Prairie


Sound familiar?

Calculating political leaders and misplaced loyalties. Looming personal and societal strife pending the results of difficult decisions. Family stress and divisiveness. Backstories coming to the forefront. And a former leader claiming that his downfall is the work of traitors.

Written by William Shakespeare well over 400 years ago about events well over 600 years ago.

Go see "Richard II" at the Guthrie.

Paul Waytz, Minneapolis


Showing off what we've got

As the former legislator primarily responsible for the establishment of the Minnesota Motion Picture and Television Board (as a House member) as well as the subsequent legislative support until I left the Senate, I was enthused by the Star Tribune Editorial Board's support for the much-needed (and overdue) establishment as an actual state agency. The editorial ("Be a major player in film and TV game," April 19) emphasized the benefits to Minnesota but neglected the second half of the question that was often asked of me by legislative colleagues as to why out-of-state production companies would want to come to Minnesota. Many of the producers and directors over the years made the benefits of shooting in Minnesota clear to me (and these are what led to Minnesota being the fifth- or sixth-largest production market in the country in the 1990s prior to the incentives).

First, all of them raved about the quality of the crew and production staff available in the state as being second to none. Second, given the quantity of theaters, the quality of acting talent available can be found in few other places. And the actors do not need to be imported for the period of production, saving additional costs. Third, Minnesota is accessible; you can have a production office in Minneapolis and be on a farm in 45 minutes. That is unlikely if your production office is in almost any other urban city. Production offices in greater Minnesota provide that same accessibility. Finally, we have seasons and snow (although not this year). Think of the major films shot here in the 1990s with a winter story line: "Fargo," "A Simple Plan," "The Mighty Ducks" and "Grumpy Old Men," among others.

With the proper nurturing (this year's legislation is a major step), Minnesota might not equal Georgia with over 10,000 full-time employees in film and television production, but Minnesota could well be a state among the top several in production.

Richard Cohen, St. Paul

The writer is a former state legislator.