"LEBANON, Va. — As Kevin Widener was growing up on his family’s tobacco farm in the rolling hills of southwest Virginia in the 1990s, lawmakers and lawyers in Washington were waging a war on smoking.
In 2006, as part of a larger program to help failing tobacco farmers, the federal government purchased the Widener homestead, and a separate legal settlement with the tobacco industry paid for Mr. Widener to attend community college, the start of a successful transition to nursing.
His mother, Sheila Snapp, now unemployed and surviving on government disability payments, was not so successful. 'The tobacco money made a big difference for my son,' Ms. Snapp said while waiting for her clothes to dry at the Lost Sock Coin Laundry. 'But it didn’t change anything for the rest of us.'"