Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/3/2012 (1983 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A great kudo to the smokers of Quebec who persevered to bring their class-action lawsuit against three tobacco companies. The misery, illness and financial impact of the use of tobacco will not be lessened by any financial settlement that may arise from this lawsuit. The tobacco companies' reply to this action is: "If the tobacco was such a poison, why did the government allow it?"
On that point most people would agree the government should also have been included along with the tobacco companies in the lawsuit. Most governments, eager for the tax revenue, have chosen to take a blind-eye approach to the sale of tobacco and have let their citizens suffer the consequences. Many people will await the judgment of this lawsuit so that, perhaps, they, too, can take a swing at the tobacco manufacturers.
This morning, as I headed off to the bus stop, it was easy to feel that spring had arrived. There was a warmth and a freshness and a promise that seemed out of sync with the time of year, but I wasn't complaining. At some point, though, I realized I was breathing cigarette fumes. In the distance, up ahead, I watched as smoked billowed from a young lady who was walking ahead of me. For several minutes I followed her at a distance of several hundred feet, unable to enjoy the awful stink she left in her trail.
When it comes to the impending court battle, I pray the courts have at least half as much legal sense as the cigarette companies have had in the past. But this may be expecting too much, so I'll offer a suggestion: When the court case finally ends, and the lawyers on both sides have padded their pockets, I suggest all the financial awards go straight to the provincial treasury, to the departments of health.
The cigarette companies have lied or prevaricated about the known dangers to the health of their consumers for decades, and should absolutely pay a stiff fine. And the tobacco lepers that I see hanging around the back doors of malls and businesses have known for decades (that is, since before they began smoking) that this habit was addictive and dangerous. More than 50 years ago, 16mm films were shown in the classroom comparing healthy pink lungs with bags of black tar that looked suitable for filling potholes. The results of the smokers' failures to exercise common sense in the past will now be remedied by having their hospital bills paid as they lie on hospital beds.
It would be utter nonsense to provide cash awards to smokers who may or may not be suffering (yet), and then ask the public to pay for their care as they cough their lungs out.