Butt for the Buttman joke Bob Dole: Burns himself by insisting cigarettes are not always addictive.

July 07, 1996

WARNING TO BOB DOLE: Tobacco may be hazardous to the health of your presidential campaign. In continuing to say that smoking is not addictive to everyone, you have become the butt of the Buttman joke. Democrats costumed like cigarettes cavort at your public appearances. Reporters keep asking questions about contributions from the tobacco lobby. And even Republicans are wondering if all those years on Capitol Hill have given you a bad case of tin ear.

ADVICE TO BOB DOLE: Stop it. This issue is a loser. It takes you off your message. It takes attention away from Bill Clinton's troubles with the FBI files and Whitewater. It takes you ever deeper into the swamp of trying to define just what "addictive" means when, as a guy who has broken with the habit, you must know darn well what it means.

HOMEWORK FOR BOB DOLE: Check out the "Complete Home Guide to Mental Health" compiled by the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. It will tell you on page 143 that "nicotine, the psychoactive substance found in tobacco, is probably the most addictive of all substances of abuse." Someone trying to give up the weed may experience "headaches, irritability, lack of concentration, insomnia, tremors, increased appetite, drowsiness and, most significantly, a craving for cigarettes." What were your symptoms? Tell the country how tough it was to make the break.

STATISTICS FOR BOB DOLE: From the same source -- 31.6 percent of all adult male Americans, 26 percent of all females and 20 percent of all teen-agers smoke tobacco. [Italics ours.] Smoking causes or contributes to 30 percent of all cancers in the U.S. It is the cause of 30 to 40 percent of all deaths from heart attacks. It causes 85 percent of pulmonary disease.

STRATEGY FOR BOB DOLE: Get behind the drive to require proof of age identification from all young people trying to buy tobacco. Insist that cigarette vending machines be banned entirely. Oppose all government subsidies for tobacco growers. Most important, stop blundering and start using good judgment. That's what Americans want of their presidents.

Pub Date: 7/07/96

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