Tobacco regulation likely - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Tobacco regulation likely

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Posted: Sunday, August 24, 2003 8:29 pm | Updated: 2:27 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

It's an imperfect idea, but ours is an imperfect world, and there's reason to concur with a proposal to end federal support of tobacco farming with an industry-financed buyout and placement of the industry under regulation by the Food and Drug Administration.

Maybe you'd prefer the government simply to end its granting of tobacco-growing rights and limits on production with no compensation to farmers. It's not going to happen that way, at least not soon; politically, it's an impossibility.

With no cost to the taxpayer, this proposal would conclude a questionable policy, and the politics work. Tobacco-state senators mostly approve.

"Hurrah," tobacco farmers should shout if it passes. Tobacco farming in this country is dying out because of the decline in smokers and foreign competition. With the dollars in this proposal, there should be a hastened desertion of the business, and the deserters will have fatter wallets than otherwise. Farmers sticking with tobacco will likely have less competition, although they will also have no government guarantees.

Some tobacco companies are grumbling because they already have to pay large amounts in court settlements with state governments, and their product is already heavily taxed.

Anti-smoking organizations are largely against safer products; they seem to think the best of all worlds for smokers is to have just the option of quitting or the likelihood of premature death. There are other aspects of FDA regulation they like, though, and they also applaud the idea of tobacco companies once more having to make their cigarettes more expensive to recoup costs.

In the end, it seems likely the proposal will become law, and that law will be one more signal that tobacco consumption is gradually shrinking its way toward

negligibility, a goal devoutly to be sought.

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