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'Smokescreen:' Proposition 99

September 28, 1988

I totally agree with your editorial ("Smokescreen," Sept. 11) in support of Proposition 99. California's tax on tobacco products is one of the lowest in the nation, and has not been raised in over 20 years. The tax increase called for by Proposition 99 is long overdue, and will provide a great number of benefits for all Californians.

The tobacco industry has followed its standard procedure when it feels its profits may be threatened by legislation: It has flooded the airwaves with commercials filled with deceptive half-truths, outright lies, and scare tactics.

Each year over 30,000 Californians die from tobacco-caused diseases. Hundreds of thousands more suffer nonfatal tobacco-related illnesses. The medical costs of treating these smokers is enormous, yet it is only one facet of the many ways in which smoking costs all of us. The majority of the population does not smoke, yet every person has to pay for the costs of smoking through higher taxes and higher insurance premiums. Proposition 99 will shift part of the burden of paying for the cost of smoking from the nonsmoking majority to the smokers who should be paying for the costs of their addiction. It is only fair to require smokers to pay for the costs of smoking.

The tobacco industry continually tells us that it is a person's individual decision as to whether or not he will be a smoker. That is true. It is also true that along with the choice to smoke, smokers should be expected to bear the responsibility to pay for the ultimate costs of their smoking, including both with their money and, perhaps, with their lives.

WILLARD T. WHEELER

Upland

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