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SPOTLIGHT
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End tobacco subsidies

Published on -4/11/2012, 10:50 AM

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We hear a lot about ending oil company subsidies, since they do not deserve it given the fact they are racking in record profits. I think we can all agree that is a wonderful idea.

Now how about tobacco subsidies to farmers? Hold it now -- wait a minute? "Farmers?" Yes, I said "farmers."

OK, so you're not so sure on that?

Well, let me make it clear to you: Tobacco kills people, so why should we be subsidizing it with tax dollars? Why? Just because the Kansas Farm Bureau supports it? I don't think so.

In 2011, tobacco use killed almost 6 million people worldwide, according to conservative estimates.

According to the American Cancer Institute, tobacco-related deaths have nearly tripled around the world in the past decade.

If trends continue, 1 billion people reportedly will die from tobacco use and exposure during the 21st century -- one person every 6 seconds.

According to the analysis, if all cigarette smoking in the U.S. had ended after that first Surgeon General report, an estimated 2.5 million people would have been spared death from lung cancer. Instead, despite all that is known about tobacco and health, about 45 million to 52 million Americans smoke (more, if you count kids), and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the U.S.

Smoking is known to cause multiple types of cancer, as well as heart disease, stroke, lung disease and other health problems. Second-hand smoke is also dangerous, causing heart disease and lung cancer in adult non-smokers, and sudden infant death syndrome, respiratory infections and decreased lung function in children.

Given how dangerous it is and how many people get killed, we should outlaw its use altogether. If I had it my way, we would. You can believe that.

But that will never happen. Too many people smoke out there. Some of them even vote.

Robert Tilford

La Crosse

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