The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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June 15, 2014

Readers' Forum 6-15 | Road disruptions just in time for Thunder

JOHNSTOWN — As usual, the state, county and city maintenance crews seem to have gone out of their way to ensure that every road leading into the Johnstown area, as well as numerous places throughout the city, have been disrupted by major construction projects.

They’re gleefully destroying pavement and posting near-indecipherable detours to welcome the 100,000 bikers to our area for Thunder in the Valley.

Year after year, the powers-that-be try to disrupt one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the country and the single-most popular event Johnstown has ever hosted.

Gee, it’s almost as if the folks at city hall want the city to remain distressed forever.

Douglas Jeffreys

Johnstown

Lots of options, but result is same

While paying for gasoline at a convenience store the other day, I noticed that, on racks behind the counter, there were about 100 different brands of cigarettes, maybe more, for sale.

Most of them seem to be variations of the same old, familiar varieties, the ones that were advertised on TV when such ads were still legal. Those commercials viewed today seem as incredible and otherworldly as the old photos of smokestacks in the steel mills belching black smoke and poisonous fumes into the atmosphere over Johnstown and Pittsburgh.

It is no longer legal to advertise cigarettes on TV, of course, any more than it’s legal to advertise Russian roulette, assisted suicide or heroin.

I wasn’t particularly surprised to note that the brand I smoked is no longer manufactured. Some types of cigarettes are sure to fall by the wayside in this economy, when the habit grows so expensive.

But while gazing at the 100 or so different varieties of cigarettes still being marketed, it occurred to me that, eventually, other brands will likely disappear, as my old label did, until finally only one anonymous, generic brand of cigarette remains.

Because that’s the end result, you know: The people who think they’re choosing between different flavors and favorite labels are just imagining they’re connoisseurs making some bizarre and perverse gourmet selection.

They’re not. They’re making a choice between smoking and not smoking, between embracing life and courting illness and death.

And they’re making the wrong choice.

Carl Schultz

Johnstown

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