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Washington a Bigger Threat to Tobacco Farmers Than Cold

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RALEIGH — For many North Carolina farmers tiny tobacco plants are a symbol of their livelihood. Tobacco farmer Pender Sharp uses precisely measured chemicals, expensive equipment and controlled conditions to protect the young plants, but it's the storm in Washington that concerns him the most.

Sharp's biggest concern right now is that political changes on Capital Hill could spell doom for the long-running price support program.

Sharp is expecting more of the state's crop to go overseas as public support for tobacco drops here at home.

Automobile dealer James Finch says he needs the gold leaf economy to stay vibrant. Many of his sales are paid for with tobacco money.

Some believe the industry is about to undergo massive changes, and because they would be the first of their kind, no one is sure what to expect. Editor's Note:

A $1.50 per pack deal is part of a bi-partisan tobacco bill endorsed by President Clinton.

The proposal would increase the cost of cigarettes over 10 years and penalize the tobacco industry if teen smoking isn't reduced enough.

In return, tobacco companies would get protection from lawsuits.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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