Tobacco plant expansion draws praise from Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has been pushing initiatives aimed at reducing tobacco consumption in a state plagued by some of the nation's worst health rates.

On Thursday, he praised plans to expand a smokeless tobacco processing plant in western Kentucky.

U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. said its approximately $118 million investment will create 42 more jobs at its Hopkinsville plant, which now employs 90 full-time workers.

Beshear says the company has found "great success" in the state, which is known for growing and consuming tobacco.

In recent weeks, Beshear has called tobacco the single-biggest factor contributing to Kentucky's dismal overall health. He is proposing higher state tax rates for cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products.

The American Cancer Society says harmful effects from smokeless tobacco use include throat and esophageal cancer, tooth decay and gum disease.

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