For years, people have smoked. For years, tobacco use has been an accepted behavior in our society. And for years, the misinformation about tobacco use has led to the deaths of millions of Georgians. It's time to change.
For average tobacco users, the decision to smoke was made at a time in their lives when they were on Little League baseball teams, had their first crushes or made the transition from elementary to middle school. Each day 526 children, with an average age of 12, make a decision that will ultimately lead to disease and death.
Does anyone really want to see children use tobacco? As a former smoker, I know the ravages of smoking firsthand. A lung transplant gave me the rare opportunity for a second chance.
It's time for Georgia to stop making excuses and to do something about this pediatric epidemic. There is a plan out there that would preserve the lives of our children by investing only one-third of the tobacco settlement in a comprehensive tobacco control plan. This investment will ultimately save money for the state of Georgia and its taxpayers by prevention of tobacco-related diseases and the costs for their treatment. I know my loved ones are worth this investment. Are yours?
Contact your local legislative representatives and urge their support of using one-third of the tobacco settlement funds for tobacco control.
Bob Hudson, Augusta
(Editor's note: The author is a volunteer with the American Lung Association).