Tar Heel Editors Speak Out

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... Adult smoking is on the decline, the Journal’s Richard Craver reported recently. That’s good for individual health and the nation’s health. It’s also good for children who may otherwise be exposed to second-hand smoke.

The U.S. adult smoking rate fell to a historic low of 13.9 percent in 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently. That represents about 34 million adult Americans who still smoke traditional cigarettes.

This year’s rate reverses a one-year uptick in 2016 that we hope was just an anomaly. The rate went from 15.1 percent in 2015 to 15.8 percent in 2016. But it’s much better than the rate of 24.7 percent in 1997, which dropped to 20.9 percent by 2005.

It looks as if a bunch of amendments to the state constitution will be clogging the ballot in November. Most are passing on mostly party-line votes and with a minimum of debate — standard operating procedure in Raleigh now.

… One of the amendments would take away the governor’s power to fill vacant judgeships; another would take away the governor’s right to appoint any members to the state elections board. Another being considered would enshrine a voter-ID requirement.

… An amendment creating a constitutional right to hunt and fish by “traditional methods” will be on the ballot in November. This provision is a little peculiar, since nobody is challenging Tar Heels’ God-given rights to hunt and fish.

… If we’re going to fiddle with the state’s constitution, it needs to be for a darn good reason. …

We encourage voters to examine each ballot measure carefully, and to consider possible unintended consequences. Remember, too, that the language on the ballot is generally not what would be added to the constitution. You will need to dig deeper to get the specifics.

The fatal shooting that took place [last week] at the newspaper covering Maryland’s capital city of Annapolis was as senseless as it was shocking.

Jarrod Ramos, 38, opened fire on the newsroom at The Capital Gazette, killing five people and severely wounding several others in what was one of the deadliest attacks on journalists in our country’s history. The targeted attack was a gut-churning ending to Ramos’ long-running feud with the newspaper.

... As other newsrooms across the world can probably attest to, this shooting hit far too close to home. We have an open door policy at The Herald and will continue to do so. We welcome visitors with open arms every day. ... We never assume that someone enters our doors with malice in mind, but you can never be too sure. This shooting is a sombering reminder of that.

... There are many uneasy moments in being a journalist. But rarely, if ever, do we feel unsafe. That barrier was shattered [last] week.

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