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Tar Heel Farmers Worried About Tobacco Deal

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RALEIGH — President Clinton has said he wants to see anextra $1.50 tax on every pack of cigarettes sold. That has Tar Heeltobaccofarmers worried that they may end up paying the real price in lost jobs.

This new development comes as the tobacco deal between cigarettecompanies and suing states appears to be crumbling.

WRAL-TV5'sBrian Bowmanspent much of Tuesday speaking with farmers who are stuck in the middleof the tobacco fight.

In spite of its troubles, tobacco still makes much more money than anyother crop in North Carolina. That's why farmers like Glenn Stancil aremore than a little angry about the threat of increased regulations.

Cigarette companies have agreed to pay states $368 billion to offsetthe cost of smoking-related illnesses. Wednesday, the president isexpected to say he won't endorse the settlement because it doesn't go farenough. Sources close to the White House believe he'll eventually demandfull Food and Drug Administration regulation of the industry, reductionsin advertising, and a tax hike of up to $1.50 per pack.

If cigarette companies start losing money, some farmers worry the losswill eventually show up here. Farmer Linwood Cherry says there's not a lotof freedom for tobacco growers these days.

The president will wait until next year to call for specific changes,but some growers are already feeling caught in the middle. Cherry sayspeople will eventually realize the country can't operate without taxesfrom tobacco.

Meanwhile, the retail side of keeping kids away from tobacco productsgot a refresher course in Raleigh Tuesday. The training workshop wasdesigned to help store clerks spot anyone under age 18 trying to buycigarettes or snuff. The bottom line for clerks: card anyone asking fortobacco who looks 27 years old or younger.

Similar workshops are scheduled around the state.

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