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Letter to the Editor: Support for tobacco control act

Sunday, May 31, 2009

As an advocate for the American Heart Association, I want to thank U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill for co-sponsoring the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Incredibly, our nation's most preventable cause of death is unregulated by any federal agency with the required scientific expertise and experience. Deadly products have been sold for generations without federal oversight, putting both young and old at risk for heart disease and stroke. In Missouri, 10,680 residents die each year from tobacco-related illnesses. Of those tobacco-related deaths, an estimated 35 percent are due to cardiovascular disease. The time has come for Congress to pass legislation placing the tobacco industry under the Food and Drug Administration's authority.

According to the American Heart Association, the cigarette chemical cocktail, which includes rat poison, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, benzene and ammonia, damages arteries throughout the body once it hits the bloodstream. Clots are more likely to form as a result, causing heart attack or stroke.

Big Tobacco spends $423 million a year in Missouri to promote such dangerous products to adults and teenagers, jeopardizing public health. I want to encourage Congress to follow Senator McCaskill's lead and support the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

CHRIS BUCKLAND, "You're the Cure" Volunteer, American Heart Association, Holts Summit, Mo.