To the editor:
My father died of a combination of heart disease and brain cancer. He went from 200 to 100 pounds in the last 8 months of his life. Cigarettes caused both illnesses. The economic and emotional toll of cigarettes on my family were enormous. So, I have little sympathy for the distributors of cigarettes who claim that they are going to suffer negative economic impact through restrictions on their sale of a product that is known to addict people and then kill them.
Many studies have demonstrated that cigarettes are as hard or harder to kick than heroin, cocaine and alcohol.
Quoting Scientific American: “In a large-scale survey published in 1994 epidemiologist James Anthony, then at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and his colleagues asked more than 8,000 people between the ages of 15 and 64 about their use of marijuana and other drugs.
The researchers found that of those who had tried marijuana at least once, about 9 percent eventually fit a diagnosis of cannabis dependence.
The corresponding figure for alcohol was 15 percent; for cocaine, 17 percent; for heroin, 23 percent; and for nicotine, 32 percent.”
How would we feel about a convenience store or, worse, a drugstore selling cocaine, which is less addictive than nicotine, over the counter because it would be economically harmful for it not to do so?
Cigarette manufacturers have been well aware of the addictive properties of their product for over 50 years, and they have repeatedly lied about the facts.
None of their executives have ever gone to jail. They get away with it because they have a lobby of millions of citizens who absolutely have to have their cigarettes. I frequent a convenience store that almost always has smokers standing outside. Recently, I saw a guy, who looked to be 18 or 19, wearing a shirt stating “I smoke. You got a (expletive) problem with that?!” I’m supposed to be supportive of this guy’s right to buy and use an addictive substance in my town?
Bar owners made numerous claims in Boston, New York, Chicago, etc. that no smoking ordinances would drive them out of business. Guess what: It didn’t happen. It’s asserted here in Newburyport that people will go out of town to purchase cigarettes and other items in a shopping experience.
Maybe that will happen, but a lot of data says that the harder it is to buy something, the less people will go out of their way to do so.
The Board of Health faces, fundamentally, a moral question: “Do we want to make it harder or easier for young people to get addicted to nicotine?”