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Letter: Unnecessary costs

Re “We can’t afford a new generation of smokers” (Monitor letter, Nov. 30):

I could not agree more with the authors. Aside from the $193 billion that smoking costs the health-care system each year, smoking cigarettes and secondhand smoke exposure cost the American public too much.

The recent 10-cent reduction in New Hampshire’s cigarette tax is a real setback to the progress that we have made in combating tobacco use. Higher cigarette taxes are the greatest deterrent to price-sensitive youth. Prevention programs are also vital to educating our youth about the dangers of tobacco use and need to be more readily available in the Granite State. New Hampshire invests no state dollars in smoking prevention and has the highest youth smoking rate in New England at almost 20 percent. Just for comparison, that rate is nearly 50 percent higher than in neighboring Vermont.

The American Lung Association released a report called “Helping Smokers Quit: Tobacco Cessation Coverage 2012.” It made clear that New Hampshire is not investing enough to alleviate the burden of tobacco use. With adequate funding of the state’s tobacco control program, comprehensive cessation medication coverage, reductions in point-of-sale marketing and increased availability of prevention programs, we can begin to tackle tobacco use head on. While the culture of tobacco has changed and society no longer normalizes smoking cigarettes, more needs to be done to prevent a new generation of youth from ever starting to smoke.

JEFF SEYLER

Manchester

(The writer is president & CEO, of the American Lung Association of the Northeast.)

You cannot mandate behavior. If you could, nobody would smoke, drink or eat badly. There are many things that cause health issues. The main one lately that is even showing up in kids is obesity. Do we mandate soda, high fat foods, alcohol etc? When do we stop trying to be all things to all people? I can tell you that America as compared to other countries abuses food, does not get enough exercise, watches too much TV etc. And poverty in America cannot even come close to what poverty is in other countries. I know, I have traveled. We cannot mandate everything. That was tried with booze. Anytime you make something illegal, folks manage to get it anyways, look at all the illegal guns we have. The states with the harshest gun laws have the highest crime.

If the current administration is serious about improving the health of Americans and doesn't mind mandating things to do that, then their first act should be to make cigarettes illegal.

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