comscore Letters: Tobacco kills more than illegal drugs; Ige should ease mask rules for vaccinated; Hawaii residents endure racism dating back years | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
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Letters: Tobacco kills more than illegal drugs; Ige should ease mask rules for vaccinated; Hawaii residents endure racism dating back years

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“Drug deaths in Honolulu hit 5-year high in 2020” (Star-Advertiser, May 16), showed how drug-related deaths have worsened in our state.

However, the greatest number of drug deaths were not mentioned: drug deaths from tobacco. According to our State Department of Health, “Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease, claiming the lives of 1,400 Hawaii adults each year.”

It is ironic that a drug that is legal would cause more than 10 times as many deaths each year as the other drugs of abuse. As the “leading cause of preventable death,” tobacco must be elevated in urgency and importance, and cannot be marginalized just because it happens to be legal.

Gerald Busch, M.D.



Ige should ease mask rules for vaccinated

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has finally announced that the American people who have been completely vaccinated do not have to wear masks, with some exceptions. Gov. David Ige should follow the CDC’s guidelines and allow our residents to not wear masks.

Can we finally look forward to breathing fresh air again in public?

It appears that as a majority of Americans receive the vaccine, herd immunity is on its way. With optimism, our country can now look forward to our students attending schools for in-person education in early fall. It’s about time the teachers union and the teachers wholeheartedly support this much-needed agenda.

My wife and I are fully vaccinated and anticipate taking a trip to the mainland this year. I’m sure many of you have the same idea. Let’s hope this pandemic is behind us and we can look forward to a healthy and prosperous 2021.

Robert Hatakeyama

Salt Lake


Safe Travels app doesn’t work the way it should

Safe Travel Hawaii may be another state program that is complex, cumbersome and ineffective.

We signed up for COVID-19 testing at Walgreen’s in Maryland. The process was flawless and we received the results in a couple of hours.

We then tried to upload the data using both Apple and Android cellphones to the Safe Travel Hawaii app. After multiple failures, we then asked our millennial daughter and her engineer husband for assistance. Well, they couldn’t figure it out, either. They finally used a laptop to load the information to the app.

Will Hawaii-bound travelers now need to lug their laptops with them when traveling? Why can’t the test results be directly posted by the test vendor to the app?

The inbound process used by United Airlines at the airport went smoothly. So score 2 for the private companies and 0 to the state for COVID-19 testing for travelers.

Glenn Young

Aina Haina


Hawaii residents endure racism dating back years

Jonathan Y. Okamura spotlighted the racism that has always existed in Hawaii’s major public institutions (“If America isn’t a racist country, what of Hawaii and its institutions?,” Star-Advertiser, Island Voices, May 9).

As a former Hawaii educator of 35 years, I witnessed it firsthand within the state Department of Education system and on the playgrounds. However, it extends further back than the 1970s, as Okamura suggests. It goes nearly back to annexation and the onset of the demeaning plantation era, and was heightened during the pre- and post-World War II years, establishment of the English standard schools and right into the 1950s and ’60s, when Hawaiian culture was objectified to benefit tourism.

Racism and discrimination will continue to exist in Hawaii, but what Hawaii locals have learned to do, over the many generations since before World War II, is to live within their island enclave, mind their p’s and q’s and not rock the boat — which is an exhausting way to live.

So what have more than 50,000 Hawaii locals done for many reasons, including this one? Move.

Traci Kane

Henderson, Nev.


Brennan made Hawaii, world a better place

I am not a football fan, but years ago I was driving home and noticed all the buses displayed “Go ‘Bows” on their front signs. Curious, I turned on the TV on when I got home and ended up watching my first and only football game from start to finish.

What amazed me was the super-high energy during the game and Colt Brennan, who in every camera shot appeared to have a monastic calm. I had never heard of him before, but knew with a single look that he was special. When they won the game, I heard a roar throughout Kailua and I even jumped to my feet in excitement.

Colt went on to various things with much potential, but this life was not for him (“Star University of Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan embodied aloha,” Star-Advertiser, May 12). Not everyone can claim to make a whole state proud and happy. I would say his was a life worth living and he made the world a better place. We are sorry to lose him.

Gina Lay



Mahalo to quarterback who embraced Hawaii

Mahalo to Colt Brennan for the good man he was, the joy he brought us through his incredible athletic feats, for how he embraced Hawaii, and the fact he gave up an earlier shot at the NFL to give us a perfect season.

Rest in peace, Colt. Your memory will endure well beyond those of us who were privileged enough to see you play.

Anne Sabalaske

Hawaii Kai


Legislature took care of wealthy, political allies

David Shapiro’s column was titled, “Legislature used COVID aid to help well off stay that way” (Star-Advertiser, Volcanic Ash, May 9).

While Congress intended CARES Act money to help alleviate some of the economic suffering caused by the government shutdown, Hawaii lawmakers used most of the $1 billion in federal funds to plug the hole in the state budget from lost revenue in 2020, while also giving pay raises to preferred political constituents (like state government workers).

To add insult to injury, the Legislature cut general assistance to some of Hawaii’s most vulnerable. It seems that Shapiro nailed that one!

Mark Saxon



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