To the Editor,
Regarding this article that posted earlier this week (Abuse of ‘legal’ substances concerns medical, police officials, July 8), I would like to commend Dr. Stopyra and Chief Watson, for speaking out about this growing problem. I really appreciate them looking for pro-active ways to combat and raise awareness about the dangers of trying these “legal” but very dangerous substances.
After reading this article I have to admit my emotions are all over the place. On one hand, it feels great to know I live in an area where people care enough about our community to help in the education and prevention of such things. But then I’m also disheartened, because I realize that unless others get involved too, their work will fall by the wayside because it truly does take a community to make change.
In my opinion, society holds our doctors, police, politicians and others who are in leadership roles to much higher standards than we hold ourselves when it comes to changing things. Don’t get me wrong; I feel our leaders should perform morally and ethically in whatever leadership position they hold. But, I also feel that all of us owe it to them, and most importantly to ourselves, to support them in combating problems we believe are worth fighting for.
In reading this article, I found myself in disbelief and quite disturbed by the following statements by the manager of Smokin’ Tobacco Pipes and More:
“A man identifying himself only as Keith, who said he was the manager of Smokin’ Tobacco Pipes and More, took the position Friday that the store is selling legal products. And it is up to the buyer to use them for their intended purpose, he said. “People are trying to make us the bad guy.”
“We’re not causing an epidemic,” the manager added. “We understand that people are using it illegally and we’re trying to nip it in the bud as soon as we can.”
One thing the store staff does is try to screen buyers as much as it can, Keith said. “You can’t judge people when they come in the door, as much as we wish we could.”
But if personnel have reason to believe someone is abusing a product, such as finding an empty container in the restroom immediately after they buy it, “then they’re not allowed back in the store,” Keith said.
While Smokin’ Tobacco Pipes and More may not be causing the “ epidemic”, they are certainly not helping to combat this growing substance abuse problem. It really concerns me to think that one of my family members or friends’ children could walk into that shop and so easily buy these dangerous substances and that there is so little regard for what harm could come to them.
I strongly urge Smokin’ Tobacco Pipes and More to remove these “legal” but potentially dangerous products from its shelves. I encourage them set aside profit and become part of the solution rather than adding to the heartbreak and costs associated with substance abuse in our community.
Speaking with people with drug problems as I have over the past couple of years, I’ve came to realize that heading down their path of addiction initially came down to a choice, and they made the wrong one. Stopping the sale of these products would eliminate a significant harmful choice in our community. This business could then take credit for saving lives instead of negatively impacting them. I would hope that any business would find this a worthy reason to change its sales practices.
I encourage everyone else throughout Surry County to do their part too. Consider volunteering with Project Lazarus Surry, Project Lazarus Surry is comprised of several sector groups, including Law Enforcement, Public Health, Medical, Schools, and the Faith Based Communiity; However, there are many other agencies and sectors of the community that participate in our coalition. This initiative is an effort to change the public’s perception of prescription drugs Please contact Donna Parks, Program Director of Project Lazarus at 336-401-8413 or Chief Watson at the Mount Airy Police Department to learn how you can help. Together, we CAN make our communities safer places to raise our children.
National Coalition against Prescription Drug Abuse