"THE HEART OF THE MATTER"
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA)


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Week: 592.1 

Guests: Joe Vallandingham, tobacco farmer, Clement, MD 

Topic: Besieged tobacco farms 

Reporter: Aaron Cohen 

Host/Producer: Steve Girard 

NEMA: Tobacco farmers carry on...coming up... 

SPOT: IN A FLASH... a video with structured curriculum tells kids the truth about gunshot injuries. For schools, churches, community groups... Call 800-332-6362. 

NEMA: Beleaguered big tobacco has agreed to an 11.3 million dollar settlement to cover smoking related health costs. But how does it affect those whose living depends on growing the weed?...Aaron Cohen has Health on the Hill...  

COHEN: Tobacco farmers had their best year ever last year...getting two dollars a pound for Maryland air cured leaf. But while farmers briefly basked in their recent success, they’re still not happy...attacks on the industry are, in the words of a warehouse man, "getting a little old", and a grower says he feels under siege. And another farmer, Joe Vallandingham of Clement, Maryland says he’s tired of being picked on by politicians....  

VALLANDINGHAM: I think we got left out in the cold, they just ignore the tobacco farmers down here in Southern Maryland. Here it is...if you don’t like it, we’re going to take it away from you. They gonna punish you. Why punish me...I’m not causing these teenagers to smoke. They gonna do what they want to do anyhow. Schools can’t correct them, how’s a tobacco farmer gonna correct them.  

COHEN: Maryland tobacco growers, continuing a tradition that is over 350 years old, have a different take on the issues of the day...none would say smoking is addictive - it’s merely ‘habit forming’, they say...and cancer? None would come out and say cigarettes are directly linked to the disease. But Southern Maryland farmers are wary of their customers at Philip Morris and Liggett too....one said confidentially that he is skeptical of their claims that addictive substances are not added to cigarettes. For Health on the Hill, I’m Aaron Cohen.  

NEMA: And I’m Steve Girard, at The Heart of the Matter.