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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 24, 2008 at 4:58 PM

Tobacco money

Seattle Times file photo

Money from the 10-year-old federal settlement with the tobacco industry should go directly into smoking-cessation programs and cancer screening, readers say.

How much longer?

Editor, The Times:

Thank you Steve Leblanc and Julie Carr Smyth for writing about the abuses in the use of “desperately needed cash” from the 1998 tobacco settlement that could go to fund affordable early detection of lung cancer [“Not much of tobacco money aids health care,” Times, Nation & World, Nov. 21].

Those funds are being squandered for other uses throughout our country, even here in Washington state. Most of the tobacco-settlement moneys should be used to fund the detection of, research about and a cure for lung cancer.

Some 85 percent of those who perish from lung cancer are smokers or reformed smokers. There were 160,390 deaths resulting from lung cancer in 2007. That’s more than colon, breast, prostate, liver, kidney and melanoma cancers combined.

The only way to survive lung cancer is early diagnosis when there are no symptoms. The 15 percent who survive today are usually accidental diagnoses. Lung cancer deserves a screening protocol like mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopy for colon cancer and PSA [Prostrate-Specific Antigen] screening and pap smears, etc., for other cancers.

Affordable early detection of lung cancer deserves most of the tobacco-settlement money. How much longer will this society ignore the deadly epidemic of lung cancer, blame the patient instead of the cigarette companies and refuse to fund the detection and research? It is scandalous.

— Peggy Cameron, Seattle

Fat chance

The fact that the government has hijacked large portions of the tobacco-settlement money for other purposes should come as no surprise to anyone. Give the government money and they will find numerous other ways to spend it.

Just look at the spending of the Washington State Lottery money. The surprise would be if the government actually spent the money in the way in which it was intended. Fat chance.

— Bruce Miller, Issaquah

Find it early

With all the money being spent on smoking awareness and cessation, there is a glaring lack of funding to assist in early screening and education about lung cancer. [“Not much of tobacco money aids health care,” Times, Nation & World, Nov. 21.]

Early screening of lung cancer is a very effective tool and has a high rate of success. If found early in stage one, lung-cancer patients have an 85 percent chance of surviving and undergo a much less expensive treatment.

Treating late-stage patients is expensive, painful and horrible for everyone involved, and there is a very slim chance of recovery. Our state needs to be putting some of that money into education for screening and assisting in the costs of screening for those who don’t have the means.

Eventually, the state pays for a lot of medical costs to patients who are too late to help. The shame is that for much less money, they could save more lives. That is a bargain at any cost.

— Michelle Crawford, Arlington

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