I quit smoking in 1975. Of course, with 20/20 hindsight, I should never have started in the first place. But sixty-plus years ago, cigarettes were cool. Edward R. Murrow, probably the most respected journalist of the 20th century and one of my heroes, interviewed guests on his CBS television show with a lit cigarette in one hand. How cool was that!
Now, 42 years after the last puff of my last cigarette, they’ve found a tumor on my left lung that’s probably malignant. According to the surgeon who’s going to remove it, if you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for ten years, your chances of getting lung cancer “increase significantly.” And it makes no difference how long ago you quit. Damn! Who knew?
I’ll tell you who knew . . . these guys knew! In April of 1994, the top executives from the largest tobacco companies in the United States appeared before a Congressional committee. They raised their right hands and, one at a time, they all testified under oath that they did not believe cigarette smoking is addictive.
Of course, they knew. They knew that tobacco is highly addictive and that smoking causes cancer and other diseases. But their allegiance was to their stockholders and not to the general public. That’s capitalism and those are the rules.
We need to remember those bozos from Big Tobacco whenever we hear business moguls complaining about too much government regulation. Reasonable government oversight and control is necessary and appropriate because without it, business and industry will get away with as much as they can, even if it means people have their homes repossessed . . . even if they lose their life’s savings . . . even if they get sick and die.
And so endith today’s rant.
I’m scheduled for surgery Wednesday morning and will resume these ramblings as soon as I’m up to it. By the way, Edward R. Murrow died of cancer. He was 57.