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Anti-Tobacco Zealouts, by Walter E. Williams

April 10, 1996, Distributed nationally by Creator's Syndicate

Tobacco executives have been accused of lying to Congress about their knowledge of tobacco's addictive nature. Scientists have been analyzing the addictive qualities of nicotine since the late 1800s. Hundreds of medical studies have shown nicotine to be addictive. For a congressman to ask a tobacco company executive whether nicotine is addictive is just as intelligent as that congressman asking an astrophysicist whether the Earth revolves around the sun. Tobacco executives fear liability suits and, therefore, deny addiction. By the way, what's so bad about lying to Congress when a list of Congress' lies could fill volumes?

Nicotine is not cancer-causing and, all by itself, poses no greater harm than caffeine, which is also an addictive substance. The health risk is associated with the 2,999 other byproducts of tobacco smoke. And this is where a very important book, "For Smokers Only," comes in.

The book was written by Dr. Brad Rodu, professor and chairman of Oral Pathology at the School of Dentistry at University of Alabama in Birmingham, who has impeccable credentials. He has published 40 articles in peer-reviewed professional journals; he has absolutely no connection with the tobacco industry; he counsels against underage tobacco use and encourages people not to begin any form of tobacco consumption. However, he urges those who smoke and have difficulty quitting to switch to smokeless tobacco and has conducted a number of studies showing the benefits of switching. Let's look at it.

If the 46 million American smokers switched to smokeless tobacco, tobacco-related deaths would plunge from 419,000 annually to 6,000 or fewer. Smoking-related heart and lung disease would disappear, and so would the alleged effects of secondhand smoke. Oral cancer is the only significant risk of smokeless tobacco. But if every cigarette smoker switched to smokeless tobacco, there would be 50 percent fewer cases of oral cancer than there are today caused by cigarette smoking.

The smokeless tobacco Dr. Rodu has carefully researched comes in the form of a tiny tea bag that the user places inconspicuously between his gum and cheek and is manufactured under several brands. There is no spitting associated with its use. Nicotine is readily absorbed through the mucous membranes that line the cheek. The user gets his "hits" continuously with little of the adverse health effects of lighting up a cigarette.

Now you might ask: What has been Dr. Rodu's reward for showing how there could be a 98 percent reduction in tobacco-related deaths? In a word, it's persecution by the anti-tobacco zealots. The National Cancer Institutes attacked Dr. Rodu, not citing any errors in the study but simply for having conducted it. They conducted an investigation of him that was ultimately dropped. The American Dental Association attempted but failed to have the American Academy of Oral Pathologists, of which he is a member, condemn and censure him for doing the study.

America's tobacco prohibitionists are engaged in a systematic war of official lies to dupe us into accepting more government control over our lives. Part of these official lies can be seen by simply picking up a can of smokeless tobacco and reading its label: "Warning: This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes." The fact of business is smokeless tobacco is infinitely safer than cigarettes, and by the way, if we ever find a perfectly safe alternative to anything, it will be a first in the history of mankind.

COPYRIGHT 1996 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. (Reprinted with permission)