In the story in the Triplicate about the recent Tobacco Litter Survey and Clean-up in Crescent City (andquot;Gathering data: No butts about it,andquot; Oct. 6), Dr. Jay McCubberey is reported to have said, andquot;Tobacco is still the number one preventable killer in America.andquot;

Oh, please. There is no doubt that smoking is bad for us, but must we still be fed 20-year-old anti-smoking propaganda? Unless we count every single heart attack in America as andquot;causedandquot; by smoking, the way some over-zealous anti-smoking crusaders once tried to do, smoking was never the number one preventable killer and certainly is not now.

Recent reports show that health complications directly caused by obesity already kill more Americans than cigarettes, alcohol, and guns combined, and the epidemic of preventable deaths is just beginning.Many young, obese children are now being diagnosed with diabetes, and the existing American health care system is predicted to be completely overwhelmed within 10 years as more and more seriously obese andquot;baby-boomersandquot; enter the Medicare system and dieprematurely and expensively.

Obesity is a far greater health threat to our children now than cigarettes are. Why do we see no similar publicity stunts to call attention to this fact? Any excuse to clean up Crescent City is good, but perhaps school children should start picking up and counting junk food wrappers as a reminder of how serious the obesity epidemic already is in Crescent City.

John P. Cupp

Smith River