In his article “Smoking report changed U.S. history: 50 years ago, surgeon general sounded authoritative alarm,” Mike Stobbe (The Columbian, Jan. 5) pointed out that the surgeon general’s 1964 report on health and smoking was a turning point in the fight against tobacco. For the first time, the public was told that cigarettes caused life-threatening diseases despite the tobacco industry’s claims to the contrary.
Fortunately, we’ve made great strides in preventing tobacco-related illnesses and protecting public health through proactive measures. In 2005, Washington voters passed the Clean Air Indoor Act to protect workers from second-hand smoke.
However, the fight isn’t over. Each year 443,000 people die from smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke in the U.S. The tobacco industry lures 3,000 kids to pick up their first cigarette each day while fighting measures to prevent smoking.
It is time to finish the battle started 50 years ago. Let’s start by ensuring that the money our state gets through the Tobacco Master Settlement and tobacco taxes goes toward reducing tobacco use in Washington. It is time for the Washington Legislature to direct the $10.5 million in arbitration funds to the Tobacco Prevention and Control Account for its intended use.
Please join me in continuing the fight so no more lives are lost prematurely to tobacco.
Jennifer Kampsula Wong