Reducing a health hazard | Opinion | Eugene, Oregon

Brown and the Legislature are owed a thank you by teenagers who never will become smokers, by their current and future family members, by anyone who pays for or provides health insurance or health care, by Oregon taxpayers and by anyone who doesn’t want to breathe second-hand smoke.A parade of county and state officials, public and private health care providers, educators, heads of nonprofit organizations and people who have lost a loved one to tobacco-­related illnesses marched through committee hearings to plead for SB 754. They made it clear that society has compelling reasons to restrict access to tobacco by young people.Tobacco use is the No. 1 preventable cause of death and disease in ­Oregon, according to the Oregon Health Authority, and raises health care costs for everyone, whether it’s through rising insurance premiums or through the taxpayer-funded Oregon Health Plan, the state’s version of Medicaid.Tobacco is directly responsible for about 7,000 deaths per year in Oregon — 700 of them in Lane County — which carries another cost, the pain of watching a loved one suffer and die. It kills more than the other eight top preventable causes of death — including diet, alcohol, toxic agents and firearms — combined.And about 95 percent of smokers start before they are 21, a time when they are too young to foresee the eventual results, are more easily influenced by peer pressure and when their still-developing brains are uniquely vulnerable to nicotine.The tobacco industry itself has estimated that, if someone has never smoked by age 18, the odds are three to one they never will; by age 24, the odds are 20 to one.The argument that teens who are old enough to serve in the military should also have legal access to tobacco has grown threadbare. The difference between willingly risking one’s life and health in service of country and risking one’s life and health for the profits of tobacco companies is vast.If this needs underlining, the adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard testified in favor of SB 754, saying that tobacco use reduces service members’ fitness and endurance, increases their risk of injury and decreases productivity.For all of these reasons — and for every Oregon family that won’t lose a loved one to tobacco — Brown and the Legislature did the right thing.More Editorial articles » RG OpinionEditorials, commentary & more delivered to your inbox. SUBMITSort byHide repliesUser profile image#blackriflesmatter4 hours agoIn reply to:Tobacco supposedly is more addictive than heroin. I can’t testify to that, never having taken heroin. But I can say that it’s hard to quit tobacco because the withdrawal causes acute discomfort for…— eric norstogNot true. I smoke and I’m a winner.User profile imageeric norstog6 hours agoTobacco supposedly is more addictive than heroin. I can’t testify to that, never having taken heroin. But I can say that it’s hard to quit tobacco because the withdrawal causes acute discomfort for a full month. I smoked from the age of 16, to keep up with the “cool kids”, carried the habit through three years in the army and twenty years in construction. I tried to quit at least twenty times but never made it past a week. Finally, a doctor told me I have excellent “will-power” but I lack “won’t-power”. Strangely, those simple words took hold and I quit tobacco forever at the age of forty. If I could do it, anyone can. Smoking is for losers. Crank up your “won’t-power” smokers, and stick with it. The first month is the hardest, but you have to turn down every cigarette for the rest of your life. It isn’t easy but it will improve your life if you quit.User profile imageNate Romanowski4 hours agoIn reply to:”The difference between willingly risking one’s life and health in service of country and risking one’s life and health for the profits of tobacco companies is vast.” I do not know a single person…— The Unknown CommenterHurray for liberty.User profile imageThe Unknown Commenter5 hours ago”The difference between willingly risking one’s life and health in service of country and risking one’s life and health for the profits of tobacco companies is vast.”I do not know a single person who smokes for the express benefit of tobacco companies in the same way they serve in the military for the benefit of their country. Usually they smoke because they like to smoke. The RG’s comparison is absurdly unhelpful.I hate smoking, particularly when my neighbor does so on his porch for an hour at dawn, and his smoke drifts in my window as I try to cool my house. Even so, I prefer people have the right to make the decision to smoke for themselves once they are of reasonable age to know the consequences, which they certainly should by 18. However, they should not be able to force others to bear any part of the costs of that decision. Tobacco should be taxed at a rate to cover all health costs for its use. Those taxes should be held in a superfund which would reimburse health providers.User profil

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