The tobacco industry has argued for years that its product is not a drug but rather a complex blend of taste, style, sociability, etc. However, recently released industry memos show that this was simply untrue - tobacco companies have known for years that nicotine is both addictive and poisonous.

Further, industry documents show that the tobacco companies saw the 14-24 age group as the future of the cigarette business. For example, a 1975 memo from a marketing vice president at R.J. Reynolds states: "As this 14-24 age group matures, they will account for a key share of the total cigarette volume for at least the next 25 years."Now the tobacco companies say they're turning over a new leaf - but as experience and their own documents have shown us, the only leaf they've ever turned over was from a tobacco plant, and they only turned it over to see if there were any kids underneath that they could sell cigarettes to.

Without recent lawsuits, the memos would never have come out, and without the national tobacco control legislation, the tobacco companies will never learn to be the good citizens they now claim they want to be.

Congress must pass, and the president must sign, a comprehensive tobacco bill. It's that simple.

Paul B. Dorius

Salt Lake City