There are many reasons why this particular largesse to the tobacco import lobby is wrong-headed.
I will supply my concern. Others can and will fill in the other blanks. The premise of increasing sales as the justification for introducing this amendment and then passing the same is incomprehensible. The most cursory of surveys notes a decline in public tolerance for smoking. Smoking has been correctly identified as the most easily controlled risk factor for both heart disease and cancer. Most states are moving to reduce smoking in public facilities. Some states are passing bans on smoking in both municipal and commercial venues.
Governments have tightened the enforcement of laws regarding underage smoking. These legislative initiatives have a common goal: to discourage smoking and the exposure of non-smokers to secondhand smoke. The reduction in smoke exposure is designed to reduce the health risks to the general population. Now if legislation is passed to promote the sales of tobacco products, what can be the conclusions. The conclusions are that the legislators either deny the evidence of tobacco as a health hazard, or that the legislators disregard the health of their constituents. Either conclusion reflects poorly on the legislators and worse, adversely affects the health of the wonderful people of the Virgin Islands. I would encourage the legislators to rethink the tobacco importers largesse. No doubt, it will go up in smoke.
Michael Whitner, M.D.
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