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The fix on tobacco

Congress must let the FDA regulate tobacco as one more way to end temptation of smoking.

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Congress must help people who could be lured into an addiction they don't need – and may not want. In coming days, the House will vote on regulating tobacco as a drug, with Senate action soon after – but all under threat of a White House veto. Will lawmakers stand up and assist smokers – and would-be smokers – to make the right choice?

The political climate is certainly ripe for federal action on nicotine.

John McCain pledged last week that one of his top goals if elected president would be to help people quit smoking (as he did himself in 1980). During his campaign, Barack Obama has set an example with an effort to quit. Also, last week, billionaires Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg announced they would spend $500 million to end tobacco use around the world.

Such moves against smoking aren't only aimed at preventing harm to smokers and their families. They also help people realize they can – and must – resist an addiction that seems to give them no choice but to act as victims to a temptation for a temporary pleasure. Those who have quit smoking know real pleasure lies in mastery over such temptation.

Government has a role in restricting companies that peddle this weed, especially when the industry purposely enhances the level of nicotine delivered in each cigarette, as recently revealed in a study by the Harvard School of Public Health.

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