Tag Archives: Tobacco Industry

Your Serve

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has put our future into our hands: “… as individuals, as families, as communities it is you who will determine whether we experience the devastation that so many other countries have suffered…” he said last night.

I have to be honest, that fills me with the utmost trepidation as there is nothing like a good pandemic to reveal the baser nature of human beings.

I want to address one controversy here – the ban on the sale of cigarettes. With all the shouting that has waged and raged, there has been not one mention of how dangerous to health cigarettes are.

I am an asthmatic. I also damaged my lungs irrevocably by smoking for many years, so add to that emphysema. Praise God, it is mild, so I am able to function pretty well on most levels. But I hate cigarette smoke with a passion. My neighbour smokes. I am in a complex so my neighbour is close by. The fumes from his cigarette waft around the corner of the wall the separates us, into my house, and send my lungs into immediate contraction.

There is nothing I can do about this. Smoking on his stoep is his right. My right to clean air is non-existent.

My neighbour on the other side has blatantly and continuously disregarded all the rules pertaining to the lockdown, or curfew. When I asked that our complex rules be respected, and those of the Government, I was pityingly asked if I understood how Covid-19 behaved. No one does, I responded. It is a nasty little crown that has sting in its tail that thus far has defied the world’s brightest minds, so your puerile observation means little to me.

Social distancing does not suit her, so she makes up a few facts to support her in her quest to live on her terms, and hers alone. Which means no respect or consideration for those around her. This attitude seems to be more the norm than not.

I met a guy on my walk the other day, not wearing a mask and had the most amazing conversation with him.

“You don’t have to wear a mask,” he said. “In fact, that mask is killing you because you are breathing back your fumes, your bad air.”

“Really? Then tell me this, are surgeons, who wear masks fro many hours each day poisoning themselves? Would they continue spending days in operating theatres if this were true? Would they still be alive a week after beginning their careers?”

I have seen this theory espoused on social media. One proponent went so far as to say “Even doctors say its true!” I’d love to know which doctors so that I can avoid them with a barge pole.

The next fallacy from the maskless walker was that of immunity. Yes, immunity can be forged, it takes time and choosing that route doesn’t always win you friends. Ask Boris Johnson. And now, Sweden. But listen to this.

Me: I have asthma. If someone 50 metres from me smokes, my lungs contract immediately.

Him. You must go closer, keep breathing it so you can acquire immunity. Your body must sort it out.

Me. I lived with a smoker for 27 years. I didn’t get immunity. My condition worsened.

End of discussion.

People talk such utter rot it is quite scary.

The dangers to health are so well documented that most people have long since given up worrying about them, so I thought it might be politic to give a little reminder of some of the direct consequences of smoking:

  • A basket of cancers affecting lungs, mouth, oesophagus, bowel, bladder, cervix, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, voicebox. I know of someone who had cancer of the tongue.
  • Smoking damages heart and blood circulation increasing risk of Coronary heart disease, heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease.

Smoking directly increases the risk of some 50 serious diseases. Passive smoking offers the same risk profile to those living with and near to smokers. And let’s not look at what it does to children, not here.

In South Africa some 44,000 people a year, or 121 a day as of May 2018, die each year of tobacco related diseases. In Britain the figure is around 78,000. This is for all those people who love to spout death figures in support of their hysterical raging against the tobacco and other bans imposed by the government during the covid-19 pandemic. Those people like my walking friend who believe any crapshoot that suits their atavistic lifestyle but refuse to believe those in authority have done any study or used any material that is based in scientific fact.

So here and now we have a disease that specifically attacks the lungs. A disease that for a some will result in one of the most agonising and cruel death. One survivor described feeling as if her lungs had been filled with boiling tar. All survivors talk of unbearable pain, the hell made worse as it is endured in total solitude.

I smoked for many years. I regret every stick I ever pulled on, every cent I put into a death peddlers’ pocket. I regret even more that I taught my children to smoke, and I pray they never pass that addiction to their children.

There has also interestingly been not one mention of how crooked the industry is as a whole.

On the back of Johan van Loggerenberg’s book, Tobacco Wars, Ivan Pillay writes “From this book, you learn that the tobacco industry has manipulated and controlled parts of the state with help from accomplices within – and is probably continuing to do so.”

Within those covers Johan reveals how both sides of this industry are utterly dishonest, and ruthless in protecting their wealth. They both peddle death. They are both ruled by money. Lots of money. Both have their beneficiaries. Government has lost large amounts of tax revenue you say. Yes. Probably adjusted to an amount far less than it should be by clever accounting. And probably over the past decade, money that is not likely to have benefitted anyone but the same few who are accused of benefitting from the illegal trade now.

Like it or not, the decision made by this government was with your best interests in mind. And my best interests, and those like me, and I thank them for their concern.

But now, CR has put the ball into our court, responsibility for our lives, and of those around us, into our own hands. Our serve. Our point to win or lose.

I do not believe for one second that I can trust the players.

Can you?

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/what-are-the-health-risks-of-smoking/

https://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/13/4/396

Tobacco wars

Tobacco Wars by Johann van Loggerenberg

Tafelberg, an imprint of NB Publishershttp://www.tafelberg.com

It is said that books unravelling South African politics and detailing the antics of those in positions of power are better than any fiction. This is certainly true of the revelations by Johann van Loggerenberg in Tobacco Wars.

Initially I found my mind flailed by too much information, having to stop for breath to uncramp my thoughts, and wondered at the intelligence and derring-do of the author. What an officer the South African Revenue Services have lost, how much has South Africa lost by him and other honest officials so summarily dismissed.

The format was a hard to follow in the beginning, traversing the time line as van Loggerenberg does. My head was spinning as I was sent back to the early teens, then brought up to today, and sent back to the mid-teens. The story is so complex I realise he has no choice but to guide us through the merry dance as best he can, and the page came where I was happily a part of the time line, understanding where I was in the sequence of things.

I found the same with the players. I had to concentrate to get each cartel, each group of players established so the narrative made sense.  Once I had that all sorted the story overwhelmed, gob-stopped and infuriated.

This is not the easiest of reads, well though it is written, even for someone who loves crime and mystery fiction, because of the complexity of the deception and dishonesty. It is hard to believe that what is being told is unembellished truth, facts that left me breathless with disbelief.

A must read for anyone with a stake in South Africa today, or indeed in the tobacco industry.