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Deaths from smoking cost billions in lost productivity

By wire services
Published July 1, 2005

ATLANTA - Early deaths caused by smoking cost the nation about $92-billion a year in lost productivity from 1997 to 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

Smoking reduces life expectancy an average of about 14 years by way of lung cancer, heart disease other illnesses, according to the CDC.

In the study, "lost productivity" meant lost wages. The CDC gave no overall estimate of the smoking-related health care costs over the same five-year period, but estimated them at $75.5-billion in 1998 alone.

The report also found that 438,000 people died each year from 1997 to 2001 because of smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. That compares with 440,000 a year from 1995 to 1999.

"Cigarette smoking continues to impose substantial health and financial costs on individuals and society," CDC director Julie Gerberding said. "We've made good progress in reducing the number of people who smoke, but we have much more work to do."

N.Y. teen faces hate crime charge after beating

NEW YORK - A white teenager was arrested on a hate crime charge Thursday, accused of beating a black man with a baseball bat in the Howard Beach section of Queens, the site of racial confrontation two decades ago.

Police said Nicholas Minucci, 19, confessed to the Wednesday attack, which left the victim in critical condition with skull fractures and a bruised kidney.

Minucci faces a charge of assault as a hate crime - punishable by a minimum of eight years in prison - as well as charges of robbery and criminal weapon possession. Police also arrested a suspected accomplice, 21-year-old Anthony Ench, while a third companion surrendered to police and was described as a witness.

Police said the victim, Glenn Moore, 22, and two other black men were walking in Howard Beach early Wednesday when they were attacked by three white men. One of Moore's friends said that he was intending to steal a car but that Moore was not aware of the plan, officials said.

The altercation happened just blocks from where three black men were beaten in 1986 after their car broke down. One of them, 23-year-old Michael Griffith, was killed by a car as he fled.

Cattle confined at ranch linked to mad cow case

LUBBOCK, Texas - Cattle will not be allowed to leave the Texas ranch that produced the nation's first homegrown case of mad cow disease, and government officials will work to find animals related to the sick cow, authorities said Thursday.

If found, the cattle will be killed and tested, Texas animal health officials said.

The 12-year-old beef cow was born, raised and used for breeding at the same ranch and had never left the property, authorities said. They would not identify the ranch or the size of the herd.

Agriculture officials announced Wednesday that the cow had tested positive last fall for the brain-wasting disease. The cow never made it into the nation's human food supply.

It was the first time the disease has been confirmed in a U.S.-born cow.

Minnesota reaches brink of shutdown over budget

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota's governor and state lawmakers struggled Thursday to break a budget deadlock by midnight and avert a government shutdown that could mean 10,000 layoffs and the closing of highway rest stops over the July Fourth weekend.

With the new fiscal year beginning today, the sticking points included taxes, casino gambling and health care for the poor.

Minnesota has never before had to suspend services because of a budget dispute. The last state government shutdown was in Tennessee in 2002.

Minnesota has no law that automatically extends spending past the end of its fiscal year if a new budget is not approved.

[Last modified July 1, 2005, 01:25:06]

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