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Front Page » January 19, 2010 » Opinion » Letter to the editor: Stop it before it starts
Published 2,089 days ago

Letter to the editor: Stop it before it starts

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By Pete Yakovich


The tobacco industry has done it again, according to the Associated Press that is. "Tobacco industry lawyers met secretly with Solicitor General Elena Kagan in an effort to avoid the government's last-ditch attempt to extract billions from companies that illegally concealed the dangers of cigarette smoking," reported MSNBC in a comment from the Associated Press.

I have done advocacy work within this community, and on a national level, and there is nothing that "gets me riled up" more than hearing about the tobacco industry.

If you have been following the advent of the industry's smokeless candy products, you haven't heard much about the menacing "mints" or "sticks". Wisconsin lawmakers, on Thursday, rejected a health department proposal to use $3 million in stimulus funding to lobby for a statewide ban on candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products, reported WTOP in Wisconsin on Jan. 14. What does this mean? A big kick in the face for advocates and another dollar stuffed in a politician's pocket. Now why would a young man from Wellington say such a thing? This being an election year, my prior experience would lead me to do it.

What this means for Utah is hard to determine. The FDA as early as 2003 said that it would not stop this candy like product, but with their newly expanded powers over the tobacco industry still we have seen no change. The FDA is too caught up trying to stop the contamination of food and Tylenol, let alone the devastating effects of tobacco. Basically, they have a full plate.

Utah's Attorney General Mark Shurtleff seems to have quite a bit going on in his life too. Out of all of the people I have contacted concerning the industry, he is the only one that has not given me a response. I don't blame him; he probably has more than enough to deal with for 10 years in public office.

I'm not one to interfere with personal choice, but please think about it. Tobacco kills 400,000 people a year, not to mention second hand smoke at 50,000. Kids consume 800 million packs of cigarettes each year, more than $2 billion dollars in revenue, but that's nothing compared to the $35 million dollars per day that tobacco companies spend in advertising. Their must be some kind of reason or something.

You make your choice. I've made mine. If there is anything that I can do about it I'm going to help people make an educated decision about using any kind of tobacco before they become addicted to a product intended to make them search in the glove box for that last five bucks for a pack of smokes from the convenience store. I've seen too many people suckered in by it, and I've been there with my family. It took years of advocacy work to realize how stupid I was as a teenager. Thankfully it stopped before high school. That means I must have been in middle school or younger. Believe it or not, 3,500 kids under 18 try cigarettes each day. Out of those kids, 1,000 will become addicted. One of the most effective ways of stopping this is just by asking and talking it out with a teenager.It's call parental supervision. If you don't believe it talk to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, they'll back me up. I don't know about you, but times are tough, and smoking would be the last thing I'd let anyone waste money on.

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January 19, 2010
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