Big Tobacco was in Springfield for what became a debate over the safety of its products.  There was no bill to consider, but a University of Louisville researcher planted the seed with members of the Illinois House Consumer Protection Committee.  “You’ll be asked to equalize taxes on smokeless tobacco to drive taxes up on all tobacco products,” said Dr. Brad Rodu, “but doing so removes the economic incentives for smokers to switch to vastly safer alternatives” such as chewing tobacco or snuff.
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The tobacco companies’ point is that the real danger is not in the tobacco itself, but in the smoke and smoke byproducts.  Statements such as Rodu’s are examples of “irony” and “audacity” to Dr. Michael Brenner of the Simmons Cancer Institute at Southern Illinois University’s medical school.  “If we can take cigarettes off the market, then I might be friendly to exploring the option of expanding the use of smokeless tobacco,” Brenner said.  Rodu said alternatives such as nicotine gum are practically worthless, and one lawmaker, State Rep. Rita Mayfield (D-Waukegan) said a loved one regularly follows an electronic cigarette with the real thing
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