Saturday, 10 March 2012

Tobacco Road

The thing about it is, they killed my mother.
My grandfather. My friend Les. My uncle Vern.
And they are killing many more people I know and love.
Maybe even my own children.
Cigarettes are public enemy number one in my book and there hasn't been much we could do about them. We can ban them from public places. We can put nasty adverts on their covers.
But people will still smoke them. Still die from their toxic fumes.
It's frustrating for people like me. I mean, you can't put on a pink tshirt and run around the Nation's Capital. There are no rallies, no battle cries, just death and internal destruction.
My baby granddaughter's other granny has emphysema because of cigarettes. She has to go to work everyday as a cleaner in a retirement residence hooked up to an oxygen tank. She quit the smoke a year ago, but it doesn't matter.
Cigarettes got her before she reached her 50th birthday.
My kids, they all smoke. Despite my pleadings, despite me putting images of ravaged lungs and mouths eaten away by cancer on the computer screens when they were teenagers.
They are indifferent.
So when I heard today that tobacco firms are being hauled into court as part of a class action involving an estimated 90,000 people, I thought, at last! Somebody's doing something.
But it will never be enough.
Mothers will still bury their children, children will still bury their mothers and nobody can stop Big Tobacco.
They're too powerful. Their drug is too addictive.
I find it passing strange that the government is banning OxyContin but hasn't lifted finger one against tobacco, which is killing and maiming many more people.
That's because government is addicted to tobacco money, just as it is addicted to gambling money.
Governments fail to realize that the money comes into one budget line and goes out on the other.
Seventy percent or so of health care dollars are spent on housing and treating the chronically ill in this country.
Many of those people are in the system as a result of self-harm involving substances and lifestyle choices.
Tobacco is front and centre as one of the biggest culprits.
I hope the smokers win.
I hope Big Tobacco loses.
Maybe if someone had done something long ago, my mother would still be alive. I wouldn't have had to bury her at 66 years old.
Hopefully, if someone does something now, I won't be a mother having to bury my own children on Tobacco Road.

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