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July 24, 1987

Government Policies Toward Tobacco Growing Promote Health

Author Affiliations

Rodolfo A. Gonzalez San Jose (Calif) State University

Rodolfo A. Gonzalez San Jose (Calif) State University

JAMA. 1987;258(4):471. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400040069010

To the Editor.—  It is often claimed that government policy toward tobacco is contradictory, because it discourages consumption through excise taxes and restrictions on advertising while at the same time providing financial assistance to tobacco growers.1 Yet, the policy makes sense from a public health perspective because the program to assist growers is in harmony with the goal of reducing the use of tobacco. If Congress were to cut federal funds to tobacco farmers, as the Coalition on Smoking OR Health recently suggested (Lexington Herald-Leader, Jan 15, 1987, p A9), more people would ultimately die of smoking-related illnesses.The Department of Agriculture guarantees tobacco growers will not have to sell below a certain price. While this price-support program involves some government purchases, it works primarily through government control of output. Each grower has a quota on the amount that can be sold through government-approved warehouses, and all sales must