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What about smokers' rights?

In the opinion-page article ``Put Tobacco Regulation Under the FDA,'' Oct. 19, the author writes as if regulation of smoking and tobacco is a debate only for governments, the tobacco industry, the medical profession, and nonsmokers. It's as if we smokers are nonhumans or are so evil or ignorant that our feelings and concerns don't have to be considered.

I hope that my letters to my congressmen opposing the proposed $2-a-pack cigarette tax to finance health-care reform were at least partly responsible for the demise of that unjust and punitive tax. If tobacco industry lobbyists also played a part, I couldn't care less. They don't speak for me. I speak for myself. In spite of the author's attempt to disenfranchise us by rendering us invisible, Congress may finally be getting the message that we smokers are people - and people who vote.

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My group health plan does not cover prescription nicotine patches or any smoking cessation programs, both of which are costly. If the author really wants people like me to quit smoking, for the good of all, he could work to get addicted smokers the medical treatment we need. Doesn't that make more sense than taxing us into poverty? Laurie D. Craw, Cave Spring, Ga.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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