Pubdate: Sun, 14 Dec 2003
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2003 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Author: Matt Robinson


Our state's methamphetamine problem is a bit overstated
("Meth manufacturers should face harder penalties, law officials say,"
Dec. 6). I have zero sympathy for parents who harm their children by
making or using dangerous drugs, but meth is nowhere near the greatest
drug threat to North Carolina's children - that would be tobacco.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids reports that 120,000 high school
students in North Carolina smoke and 416,000 children are exposed to
second-hand smoke each year. Smoking kills 11,500 adult North Carolina
smokers each year, and exposure to second-hand smoke kills at least
1,210 in our state annually.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that
smoking kills more people than alcohol, AIDS, car crashes, murders,
suicides and illegal drugs combined. More than 430,000 Americans die
from tobacco annually, compared to 19,000 for all illicit drugs.

Tobacco use also is financially costly. According to the U.S.
Department of the Treasury, North Carolina citizens spend $1.92
billion each year on direct health-care costs caused by smoking, and
lose $2.82 billion in productivity because of smoking. The burden to
each and every family every year in North Carolina is $498.

I understand why police officials are concerned about meth. But
where's the outrage about parents recklessly exposing their kids to
tobacco? Smoking is legal, but exposing kids to it should be criminal.

Matt Robinson

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