Banks County Opinions...

JULY 10, 2002


By: Angela Gary
he Banks County News
July 10, 2002

Glad so many criminals are
not very smart
A lot of criminals are stupid...and I’m glad.
You always hear true stories about bank robbers who go to the bank where they do business to rob it. A friend of mine was working as a bank teller years ago when a man she went to high school with came in to rob the bank. It was a small town and everyone knew who he was and where to find him. Not very smart.
A man authorities were searching for in connection with a double murder was found in another state last week driving the very vehicle that was stolen from the victims. You would think he would have gotten rid of the vehicle or at least the tag on it long ago. Also, not very smart.
Another man who allegedly burglarized a home didn’t wear shoes when he committed the crime. If you didn’t have a car with you and were planning to get away on foot, wouldn’t you at least wear shoes? It’s no wonder that his feet got cut during the chase and ended up infected. It’s also this escape plan that likely led to his arrest. Not a lot of thought went into this crime and I sure an glad.
Some crimes are committed and never solved, which is a shame. But I’m glad that so many criminals aren’t very smart and make these mistakes that lead to their capture and arrest.
In reading over local crime reports for years, I’ve noticed that people who end up being arrested for drug and alcohol violations make stupid traffic violations that lead to their arrest. You would think that if you are carrying drugs around that you would not speed or have a cracked tail light or windshield. Luckily for law enforcement, traffic violators often have illegal substances in their cars or are driving while drunk.
Since I write about crime on a weekly basis, I probably think about criminals more than the average person. I often shake my head over an incident and wonder how in the world a person thought they could get away with the crime they committed. Often-times, drugs are what leads to the crime being committed. Drugs will impair a person so much that they commit a crime or they will commit a crime in order to get money to buy drugs. This is why I have to smile every time a drug pusher or user is caught.
Ridding our streets of drugs is the only way to even begin to get a handle on crime. Burglaries, domestic disputes and many other crimes can all be attributed to drugs.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald.


By: Rochelle Beckstein
he Banks County News
July 10, 2002

Middle school is all about spit
When I think about my middle school career, one of the first things I remember is spit. Nasty brown spit all over the sidewalks between the school building and the trailers. Normally smart boys sneaking snuff into their mouths and turning into idiots who spewed tobacco laden spittle. To avoid the pungent pock marks you had to keep your eyes on the ground and sometimes tiptoe around oozy patches of brown slobber.
Recent findings by the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at Emory University only confirm what I already know—white males between the ages of 14 and 18 have the highest prevalence of spit tobacco use. Use among boys between 12 and 24 is on the rise. Alarmingly, the study reported that spit tobacco users generally did not understand that spit tobacco is both addictive and damaging. As a result, Emory advocated a statewide education program aimed at stopping spit tobacco use.
According to the Georgia Spit Tobacco Education Program website or, education programs have reached only 10 counties: Cobb, Gwinnett, Cherokee, Laurens, Muscogee, Talbot, Randolph, Dougherty and Effingham Counties. At this point it’s called a “pilot curriculum” program. Why wait for the pilot program to reach us when we could be educating our children now about the dangers of all forms of tobacco?
Spit tobacco whether it is sold shredded or finely ground, in pouches or in tins, it is still tobacco. It contains at least 28 known cancer causing agents and the addictive drug nicotine. Just one dip contains as much nicotine as 2-5 cigarettes depending on the brand. Users who dip or chews 8-10 times a day get as much nicotine as if they had smoked 30-40 cigarettes. That’s a lot of nicotine.
In the U.S., 18,900 new cases of mouth and throat cancer are expected in males and nearly 10,000 new cases are expected in females in 2002. Of those 18,900, 50 percent will die from cancer before 2007. Surgery to remove the cancer often involves cutting away parts of the face, tongue, cheek and lip.
If you want to talk about non-life threatening effects, you can mention that chewing tobacco causes bad breath and stained teeth.
Undercutting educational efforts are the impressions many children get from watching professional baseball where 35-40 percent of athletes chew tobacco. A 12-year-old playing for the rec. department may think that chewing tobacco is just as essential to his chances of going pro as is practicing his swing. Kids should know that baseball has banned spit tobacco use from the little leagues to the minor leagues. Major leaguers supposedly chew to pass the time between plays and to keep their mouths wet in the dusty fields. Suggest alternatives like bubblegum or sunflower seeds and point out that 60-65 percent of major league players don’t chew tobacco.
New products introduced this year make it much more important to teach children about the dangers of spit tobacco. U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company has launched Revel, a mint-flavored smokeless tobacco that is held in the mouth for 20-30 minutes with no need to spit. The company’s aim? To have “smoke-free products recognized by adults as the preferred way to experience tobacco satisfaction.”
And even more dangerous, in November 2001, Star Scientific launched a similar product—Ariva. It’s a hard-tobacco lozenge that dissolves in the mouth like candy, no spitting required. The company acknowledges that Ariva’s sweet taste and the unlikelihood of being discovered would appeal to children. The company’s answer? Childproof packaging. Problem solved? I don’t think so.
Parents and educators are the only answer for this problem.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspaper.

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