Profits from sin

WITH TOBACCO generating nearly $196 million annually just for fourth-ranked Virginia, the effect of smoking on lungs abroad is best ignored. Thousands of jobs in Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee depend on tobacco, including 10,000 at the giant Philip Morris factory in Richmond.

Besides, federal price supports ensure an average gross income of about $7,500 per ha, as against $101 for wheat. Though there is talk in the air of an additional "sin tax" of upto $2 a packet on cigarettes, American tobacco growers are tempering their worry with the knowledge that foreign sales have soared four-fold since 1985.