By lbhuber@thecommonwealthgroup.com

Dear Editor:
As we tobacco farmers gear up to start the 2004-growing season, we do so with a lot of uncertainty. We have got to deal with a lot of situations that could make it impossible for us to survive. The uncertainty of Congress passing a buyout makes things very unstable. A proposed state tax on all tobacco products would be a severe blow on the remaining tobacco farmers.
While everyone wants freedom to do as they please, bills to prohibit smoking in public places keep hitting tobacco farmers left and right. It is my belief that smokeless tobacco products could help soften that blow. The smokeless tobacco that is grown in Kentucky does a lot for our community by putting a lot of money into farmer’s hands. Most farmers spend their money in their hometowns.
Experts say smokeless tobacco can play “a positive health role,” Dark tobacco producers are proud of the products made from tobacco they grow. It produces no second-hand smoke, is safer than smoking tobacco and can be used to help people stop smoking in some situations.According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), smokeless tobacco use is 98 percent safer than cigarette smoking. It can help save lives of smokers and those who breathe second-hand smoke. That’s why one third of smokeless users in the U.S. today are former smokers, according to the CDC. New smokeless tobacco products are considered much more socially acceptable. Old-fashioned “chewing” or “spitting” tobacco is outdated.

Smokeless tobacco products, which produce reduced risk, should be encouraged for smokers. This will not only save smokers lives, but will provide hope to hundreds of farmers in Kentucky who grow dark-fired tobacco. This information should be made available to all that use tobacco products.

Jim Kelly
President Western Dark-Fired Tobacco Growers Association
206 Maple St.
PO Box 1056
Murray, KY 42071-1056
(270) 753-3341