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Who broke the first tobacco scoop?

The Monitor's review of "The Insider," while otherwise perceptive, overlooks the fact that Michael Mann's movie does not accurately represent what sparked the recent legal and cultural revolution against tobacco, in spite of the film's pretensions to the contrary ("The scoop: 'Insider' delivers great drama," Nov. 5).

The fire that lit the fuse of public outrage was not the revelations of Jeffrey Wigand with the assistance of former "60 Minutes" producer Lowell Bergman. It was an award-winning investigative piece by another "60 Minutes" producer, Walt Bogdanich, who (then with ABC News) exposed tobacco manufacturers' secret manipulation of nicotine to addict millions of American consumers - more than a year before Wigand was interviewed with Mike Wallace.

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Bogdanich's startling report in February 1994 galvanized the Food and Drug Administration to open its historic tobacco investigation, prompted Congress to convene the hearing where seven tobacco CEOs lied under oath about nicotine addiction, and led to the filing of the first-ever class-action litigation on behalf of smokers.

What was Bogdanich's reward? In another cowardly misjudgment by a major network that itself is worthy of a movie, ABC's corporate brass sold him out when Philip Morris bullied them into settling a $10 billion libel suit, even though ABC had reported the truth, and nothing but the truth, about the cigarette companies' manufacturing practices. Bogdanich refused to sign ABC's bogus apology, and his report still stands as the single most important story in the tobacco wars since the 1964 Surgeon General's report.

Clifford E. Douglas Ann Arbor, Mich. President Tobacco Control Law & Policy Consulting

Gun crime drop: don't cheer too soon

Regarding the Oct. 20 article "Behind drop in US murder, a decline in gun crime," I was excited to hear some good news about gun crime and murder. It is great to hear that the laws concerning the buying and selling of guns have made an impact on the murder rate in the US. However, I do not believe that the fact that the murder rate dropped 7 percent last year means that the US has a good grip on gun violence. We have control on who buys the guns, but we do not have good control on who has access to the guns that are bought and what those people will do with those guns.

One month after the Columbine shootings, my classmates and I witnessed teen violence in our beloved Heritage High School, in Conyers, Ga. Many of our youths have some kind of access to a gun, just as the two Columbine students and my former classmate did. The youths have lost all respect for guns and for the lives of others.

Something needs to be done to control this growing trend of teen violence. I encourage parents and teachers to teach children to treat guns and others with respect. Children should grow up with the understanding that guns are dangerous and are not play things. Citizens should teach by example. The youths watch their elders and learn by their examples.

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Natalie Shipp Conyers, Ga.

Iranian women long involved in politics

In your Nov. 3 news summary you report that "only two Persian Gulf states, Oman and Qatar, allow women any participation in electoral politics." You have neglected to mention Iran, the largest Persian Gulf state. Despite strict Islamic law, Iranian women have been participating in politics since long before Oman and Qatar allowed women any participation.

Rebecca Cann San Jose, Calif.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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