Letters to editor for Thursday, April 15, 2021

Readers write about affordable housing, regulating cigarettes and beachside development in letters to…

Letters to editor for Thursday, April 15, 2021 1

Allow local regulation of tobacco 

As a cancer survivor and a 25-year volunteer with the American Cancer Society, I have seen the effects of tobacco and nicotine in both adults and youth. The increased chance of cancer development related to its use is staggering.

I’m outraged by a proposal that would repeal our communities’ power to protect teens from deadly tobacco products. Senate Bill 1080 would give Big Tobacco free reign to market and sell its deadly products, including e-cigarettes, to kids across our state.

Kids are using e-cigarettes at alarming rates. For years, our state lawmakers have passed on the strong policies we need to address today’s youth tobacco epidemic. This session they should be offering effective policies, not placing limitations on local authority in order to protect Big Tobacco’s profits. Our local communities must be able to regulate how and where tobacco is marketed and sold to kids to protect the next generation from a lifetime of addiction.

Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, please vote no on this harmful legislation and preserve the right of all Florida communities to protect the health of their residents. Don’t let an outside special interest group such as Big Tobacco take away our freedom to make local decisions. 

(Editor’s note: SB 1080, among other things, would preempt to the state the establishment of a minimum age for buying and possessing tobacco products, as well as regulation of their marketing, sale and delivery. The bill was sent to three Senate committees, passed 9-0 and 8-0 by two of them and put on the Friday, April 16, agenda of the third: the Senate Rules Committee.)

James L. Eldridge, North Naples

Don’t reduce affordable housing aid

The Florida Legislature is planning to severely cut workforce housing dollars that are critical to so many Floridians. The current state budget that is being negotiated by lawmakers would reduce the funding available for affordable housing programs by 50%.

This is happening when the economic impacts of the pandemic, combined with record-high housing prices and a rapidly growing population, mean affordable housing is becoming harder than ever to find in our state.

Affordable housing is a priority for Florida’s essential workers. It is a priority for the elderly on fixed incomes and for hardworking Floridians looking to purchase their first homes. Now is certainly not the time to take money away from programs that can help Floridians achieve the American dream of homeownership or keep a roof over their heads.

Help save Florida’s desperately needed affordable housing programs. Go to https://affordablehousingfl.org and tell lawmakers to use housing funding for housing.

Beate Jones, Fort Myers

Naples Beach Hotel redevelopment

The new plan put forth by The Athens Group for redevelopment of the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club site would take the city in a direction that would not preserve or restore the reasons people come to Naples.

Trust in The Athens Group to follow through within the original redevelopment plan has been broken by the proposed changes. Faith in our City Council and staff is shaken when we see how the new plan and changes are being accepted by them.

We are so blessed to live in an area that emulates a simpler time, a place where people want to reside rather than must live, and a town that provides the ambiance and infrastructure for thoughtful and fulfilling lives. We have friends who have paid a significant cost to preserve Naples’ character when rebuilding their homes in key  locations.

The Beach Hotel and Golf Club property is a unique icon of Naples and should not be changed materially. The property could be improved, certainly, but The Athens Group’s proposed redevelopment would not improve the charm and character of Naples. I hope the City Council and staff require any redevelopment of the site to be skewed to preservation and restoration, as opposed to the trend of highest and best use.

Jim Meerpohl, Naples-area resident for 49 years

Planned Parenthood’s other services

Planned Parenthood continues to be falsely vilified by special interests as an abortion factory. Just one of its many services is legal abortion counseling and assistance.

Planned Parenthood provides help to women and men in the form of examinations, including cancer screening, for both healthy and ill people. Planned Parenthood helps save lives. 

It also provides adoption information and referrals, vasectomies, emergency contraception, menopause assistance and birth control help. It does excellent work in preventing the need for abortions.


In some areas, most of its services are to poor women and men, many in minority neighborhoods, who otherwise would have little or no health service options. Ironically, if those who are trying to eliminate Planned Parenthood are successful, they would be responsible for the lack of health services, and perhaps deaths of some babies and adults. 

Robert Hilliard, Sanibel

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