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IT'S TIME TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST TOBACCO INDUSTRY

Most citizens are unaware of this nation's most serious drug threat. Pushers have hooked over 1 million children on this drug in 1999 alone. Each year, 400,000 Americans die as a result of this addiction. The cost to the health-care system exceeds $50 billion annually.

Addictions to this drug are carefully controlled by money-grubbing cartels with no regard for human life. Addicts will spend more on this drug during their shortened lifetimes than addicts of any other drug. Consequently, the drug cartels are wealthy and powerful -- with many of our politicians and media people in their pockets.

It's time to take a stand. It's time for local drug dealers to say "no" to drug profits. It's time for us to tell our government we will no longer tolerate this situation.

The drug? Tobacco. The dealers? Local stores. The drug cartels? Tobacco companies operating as immorally as any other drug cartel with one exception: they are legally addicting and killing people. Who's really to blame? We are -- for allowing this to continue when it is so clearly wrong. The price we pay for our apathy may be the health of someone we love. End the apathy. The time to stop tobacco is now.

THERESA LYNCH

Buffalo

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