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Opioid crisis

Those of us on the ground working on the opioid crisis are also disappointed by President Donald Trump’s empty declaration without funding to back it up.

We are fortunate to have strong local commitments from our leaders to stop this epidemic. King County made a significant investment in a new Beacon Hill facility that combines detox and substance-use treatment with mental-health services. This facility, operated by Valley Cities Behavioral Health, is the first in the area to offer this long overdue combination of services.

We’ll keep pursuing federal support, but we won’t wait for it. The tens of thousands of people in King County suffering from substance-use disorder deserve treatment and resources now.

Milena Stott, chief strategy officer, Valley Cities Behavioral Health, Federal Way


Mental illness

Some of our government leaders have focused on mental illness instead of the availability of lethal weapons as the major contributing factor in mass shootings.

Having worked as a psychiatrist in state hospitals and community mental-health centers for the past 30 years, I have had to accept cuts in budgets, and loss of evidence-based programs and people with expertise in the daily functioning of these institutions due to tax cuts and lack of funding.

Poverty contributes to the development of many mental illnesses, which can confine citizens to poverty as they have difficulty maintaining jobs in a competitive work environment. Yet the tax-reform bill the U.S. House of Representatives approved Thursday and the one pending a vote in the Senate cut Medicaid and anti-poverty programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child tax credit for many low-income families, as well as threatening Medicare and Social Security.

It is outrageous to give tax cuts to the rich and corporations, incurring more debt, while taking away resources from low-income persons, and not developing and paying for programs that reduce poverty and treat mental illness.

Lorraine Barton-Haas, M.D., Tumwater


Tobacco use

As chair of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sen. Patty Murray has led efforts to fully fund the CDC’s tobacco programs.

The CDC’s Tips from Former Smokers campaign has helped about 500,000 smokers quit successfully and saved at least 50,000 lives across the U.S.

Sen. Murray has also spoken out against tobacco companies’ latest trick to hook kids: sweet-flavored tobacco products, like gummy bear e-cigarettes. In Washington, more high schoolers now use e-cigarettes (12.7 percent) than smoke traditional cigarettes (6.3 percent).

By supporting strong FDA and CDC efforts to reduce tobacco use, she is helping to prevent costly tobacco-caused diseases like cancer and heart disease, save lives and make the next generation tobacco-free.

Annie Tegen, director, Western Region, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Seattle