The sites warn about the dangers of smoking, say smoking is addictive,
list chemicals added in manufacturing cigarettes, encourage smoke-free environments for nonsmokers, and offer smokers Web-based quitting resources. This is the face of the "new" tobacco industry, they tell us, committed to public health and to America's children. They have finally come clean, they would have us believe, after half a century of targeting kids and deceiving the public about their products' dangers. Their social commitment extends well beyond the issue of smoking, they inform us. Each company devotes millions of dollars to a variety of causes, including feeding the hungry, aiding victims of natural disasters, and protecting women who are victims of abuse (of the nonsmoking kind). In 2000, industry behemoth Philip Morris, with domestic tobacco revenues of $23 billion, spent $115 million on such worthy endeavors--and then spent an additional $150 million on a national advertising campaign to inform the public about the company's largesse.States pay more than 17% of smoking-related health expenses through Medicaid programs. Investing in prevention, therefore, can result in long-term savings to states. Medicaid coverage to make smoking cessation affordable and accessible for the poor is crucial. Currently, 14 states offer no coverage at all. Comprehensive prevention and treatment plans will also save providers money in the long run. A study of health maintenance organization (HMO) expenses found former smokers' health care costs higher in their first year of quitting, but they are equivalent to those of continuing smokers in the second year, after which costs continue to drop. (Healton p1) Tobacco companies have succeeded in addicting those who have the least information about the health risks of smoking, the fewest resources, the fewest social supports, and the least access to cessation services.(Keife,
p149) Internal company documents, made public by suits against...
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