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Proposed Tobacco Regulation Doesn't Sit Well With Farmers

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WILSON — President Clinton could sign legislation as early as tomorrow that would regulate tobacco products as drug-delivery devices. That has many in the Tarheel state on edge because of the huge impact tobacco has on the state's economy. Tobacco is North Carolina's number one cash crop, with just over $1 billion worth sold last year.

The threat of more regulations on tobacco has North Carolina farmers grumbling. Most, infact, think the proposed regulations have more to do with grabbing votes than anything else.

Tobacco production, the making of cigarettes, is a $10 billion-a-year industry, amounting to over eight percent of the state's total economy.

Tarheel tobacco farmers say they really don't know how, or how much, regulation of tobacco as a drug will damage their way of life. If President Clinton approves a Food and Drug Administration proposal on Friday, it won't be long until they find out.

Nash County farmer Jerome Vick says he doesn't know why tobacco is such a big issue.

Vick says if the real issue, as Clinton says, is keeping cigarettes out of the hands of children, he's all for it. That's a stance even cigarette manufactures take. He says tobacco growers will try to work with the state's congressional delegation to keep such regulations off tobacco.

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For now, those who rely on the golden leaf to keep their wallets filled with green will have to wait and see what happens on Friday, and hope they can find a way to survive the consequences

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