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CIGARETTE BAN WOULD ROB RIGHTS

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The clock is ticking as government bureaucrats work diligently to wage war against a legal product and attempt to have it banned.

Right now, our government is spending millions of dollars to devise plans to initiate prohibition on tobacco - the country's current "politically incorrect" product.Obviously, smokers should be concerned. But non-smokers, too, should worry about the overzealous actions of our government when it comes to personal decisions.

The Food and Drug Administration has announced plans to regulate tobacco advertising and promotion. And to what avail? The hidden agenda, it seems, is to eventually ban cigarettes entirely and take away the rights of adults who choose to smoke.

As president of the Utah Smokers' Alliance, I represent smokers and non-smokers concerned about government intervention. Smokers, non-smokers, the government - we all agree - kids should not smoke. Smoking is an adult decision and one that must be made with ample consideration.

Every state in our country has a minimum purchase-age law requiring that individuals be at least 18 years of age to purchase cigarettes. And most states are working to focus more attention on enforcement efforts at the retail level.

Now, the FDA, a federal agency with no jurisdiction over tobacco products, wants to move forward with additional programs - massively expensive programs - to reduce youth access to cigarettes. These programs are simply an attempt to create yet another government bureaucracy, spend millions of taxpayer dollars and bring more big government into the picture.

I say let state and local governments work within their own communities to determine the best ways to keep cigarettes away from kids. And the tobacco companies themselves have expressed a willingness to work on voluntary measures.

Governmental regulation is not the way to solve all our problems. The last election was proof of that. Americans are tired of the paternalistic attitude bureaucrats have taken. It's time to let us make our own decisions, raise and educate our children and, basically, live our own lives.

Please let Washington know how you feel. Whether you're a smoker or simply someone concerned about individual freedoms, it is imperative that we work together.

But if communities work together - parents, teachers, retailers - we can use common sense to focus on better values for our kids.

Debbie Davis

Salt Lake City