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Tobacco will kill 1 billion in 21st century

WASHINGTON – If current trends hold, tobacco will kill a billion people this century, 10 times the toll it took in the 20th century, public health officials said Monday.

Tobacco accounts for one in five cancer deaths, or 1.4 million deaths worldwide each year, according to two new reference guides that chart global tobacco use and cancer. Lung cancer remains the major cancer among the 10.9 million new cases of cancer diagnosed each year, according to the Cancer Atlas.

And tobacco will continue to be sold as not-a-food and not-a-drug (what is it, an office supply? an automobile?), so the FDA doesn’t regulate it, so it doesn’t have to list its contents. They have to tell you how many grams of sodium are in your Lucky Charms, but what’s in your Lucky Strikes* remains a mystery.

Dangerous drugs are regulated under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970… but, remember, cigarettes are not a dangerous drug. Oh, sure, they kill around 450,000 per year, and thousands more who don’t use the cigarettes die from the second-hand smoke. So they’re a dangerous not-a-drug, I suppose.

Meanwhile, a cancer patient who smokes a doobie to regain an appetite after a lengthy bout of chemotherapy is using a prohibited, dangerous, Schedule I substance that may not even be prescribed by a doctor. He can prescribe you morphine, OxyContin, cocaine, and methaphetamine (seriously, it’s in Schedule II), but not marijuana.

Nevermind that marijuana killed exactly ZERO people in the 20th century… and the 19th, and 18th, and 17th, and all the way back to the beginning of time. Sorry, doesn’t matter, you can’t have it.

Have a cigarette instead. Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot about the cancer**… that cigarette is why you need the doobie in the first place!

* Lucky Strikes? What is this, 1942?

** While I’m on the subject, recent studies show that cannabis does not cause lung cancer. Regular pot smokers have the same cancer rates as non-smokers, and much lower than cigarette smokers. Furthermore, cigarette smokers who also smoke weed have lower cancer rates. Finally, it has been shown in rats that marijuana actually has tumor-inhibiting and brain-cell-protecting properties. That’s why Willie Nelson’s still around and Merle Haggard (whoops!) Waylon Jennings ain’t…

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