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Monday 18 December 2017

Why do we never get angry at the big gest killers in our country?

In the months before this Budget, a number of different bodies lobbied the Government. Notable amongst them was the US Chamber of Commerce, whose focus wasn't financial, but rather the Public Health Bill 2014.

They got in touch to say "hey lads, your plans to stop some US companies killing your citizens shouldn't go ahead". Well, that's not how they put it. They actually raised 'concerns' that plain packaging of cigarettes would have adverse effects on 'global IP protections'.

Yeah, right. Let's apply the rule that when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras; the chamber is getting loud about legislation designed to hamper sales. That might suggest the motivation is less to do with precedent, than profit.

Killing people with tobacco is big business. Big enough that North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory joined the chamber in lobbying, explaining that tobacco was an important crop for farmers and manufacturers in his state.

Fabulous logic, isn't it? Opium poppies are an important crop for Afghanistan, should we therefore legalise heroin? Coca plants are lucrative for Columbian farmers, should we allow cocaine to be sold across the counter?

In generations to come, when our kids and grandkids ask us how we dealt with the single biggest preventable cause of death in our nation, what will we say? That we allowed multinationals kill our citizens for profit? We had concerns about intellectual property rights? We feared annoying lobby groups? We were too busy shouting about our financial woes to notice the systemic manufacture, distribution and sale of the developed world's biggest killer?

Let's put some numbers on this - 5,200 is a good start. That's how many people die in Ireland a year from smoking.

If you took all the road deaths and all the drownings and added them together, you'd still have to multiply by 10 to equal the number who die from fags. More people will die from smoking by the end of November, than will die from suicide this year.

And those numbers ignore the people whose quality of life is destroyed by COPD, heart disease, emphysema, blindness, cataracts, stroke…

So, maybe we should get active about something we can effect. Right now. Today. And maybe the Chamber of Commerce should grow a pair and put lives ahead of their 'intellectual property' concerns - because from their perspective the issue is even bigger than from ours; we lose five thousand citizens a year thanks to smoking. The US loses half-a-million.

That's a big price to pay for protecting Intellectual Property and keeping North Carolina farmers busy.

Beyonce shows off a hair-don't

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She's obviously still a tremendously good-looking woman, just now she appears to be a tremendously good-looking woman in a toupee.

Row puts footie on the shelf

So, a one-all draw between Germany and Ireland. Woohoo and so forth. All the attention it's getting overlooks a much more interesting German/Irish battle - Aldi versus Dunnes Stores. Aldi are alleging that Dunnes made false price comparisons between the shops' products. Dunnes are saying they didn't. Whoever wins, it's a fiercely competitive group…

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