How to treat a political disease: Tobacco.

Published: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 - 6:02 pm

Re "A striking shift in accepting tobacco money" ( Dan Morain, Feb. 9): I applaud Dan Morain for calling out politicians who opposed the proposed $2 increase in tobacco taxes.

If the New York Times published an article reporting that nearly half a million people died last year from arsenic in the water supply, chief executive officers of water companies would be in handcuffs by the end of the day, arsenic eradication efforts would go into effect immediately.

But we have known for 50 years that tobacco kills. Nearly half a million Americans die tobacco deaths each year. Why do we tolerate it? We don't but our politicians do, and I think we know why. The famous Oxford epidemiologist, Sir Richard Peto, recently presented evidence from a national study in France where the price of cigarettes trebled in 1990.

By 2005, the consumption of cigarettes dropped in half and government revenues doubled.

-- Sean P. David, M.D., Palo Alto

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