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Copyright 1996 The Indianapolis Newspapers, Inc.

February 8, 1996 Thursday CITY FINAL EDITION


LENGTH: 236 words

HEADLINE: Smoker statistics

I write in reference to the Feb. article " Low taxes, high death
rate for smokers" by Andrea Neal and your cartoon on the same date.
I took the time to plot the data released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all states on a graph that shows the percent who smoke vs. the per pack tax. The points are randomly scattered and there appears to be little if any correlation between the state tax now imposed on cigarettes and the percentage who smoke.

There are a couple of interesting points on the plot. Nevada has the highest percent who smoke and a relatively high tax. Could it be that you need to smoke to steady your nerves while risking your fortune at the gaming table? Utah has the lowest percentage who smoke of all the states and a tax lower than many states.

Could it be that this low rate of smoking is because of the high percentage of Mormons in Utah who are trained in the home not to take artificial stimulants into their bodies?

I suggest that this is the most important thing we can get from these data. What we do in the home influences what our population does as a whole relative to smoking, drug use and any other good or adverse behavior.

I abhor tobacco smoke and wish that tax on tobacco could take care of the problem but I don't think the data support that it will.