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Gifford-Jones: Reader' Reaction to Self-Inflicted Disease

Recently I asked readers to respond to the column, “Want to be a Millionaire?” I received a ton of mail.
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Recently I asked readers to respond to the column, “Want to be a Millionaire?” 

I received a ton of mail. A Quebec judge had ruled that smokers could be rewarded for ill health and death even though they knew smoking had been a health hazard for 50 years. 

So I proposed getting rich similarly by starting a class action suit against food companies for creating the perfect storm of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.  

After all, this is a monumental crisis compared to smoking.

L.P. from West Kelowna, British Columbia, writes, “I totally agree with your every word. These poor saps didn’t know that tobacco was harmful to their health? What a society we live in. The next thing these poor babies will be suing MacDonald’s, Burger King and other food chains for making them fat by forcing them to eat all those unhealthy burgers and fries.”

D.T. from Leamington, Ontario, says, “Thanks for the column regarding the ridiculous illogical lawsuit in Quebec. I fully agree that people, as well as governments, should not be allowed to sue a company as a result of ill-informed choices they made. You are right. It could be the start of a slippery slope.”

He adds, “ Everyone complains about the billions spent on medical treatments for people who smoke. However, since smokers die an average 10 years sooner than those choosing a healthy lifestyle there is a significant cost saving in pension payouts.” 

(Professor Richard Peto at Oxford reported on a large study several years ago proving that smokers died 20 years sooner).

J.W. from Windsor, Ontario, writes, “I feel your logic is open to question. Food companies have for many years openly printed on each package, can or container, the ingredients listed therein. Albeit, they had to be legislated to do it. Cigarette companies on the other hand, to my knowledge, did not do so. “

Another reader remarks, “Your article made my heart sing. We live in this litigation-riddled society where people can’t or won’t take responsibility for their own actions. Every time I see a smoker light up, I cringe and think of the cost to me and society. Thanks for a well written article. I think there are millions of folks who agree, but are afraid to stand up and be counted.”

O.P from Saskatoon says, “Thanks for the column. You nailed it. I agree 100 percent and wish more people would say it.”

B.M. remarks, “I was glad to read your column about self-inflicted health issues. In particular, you echoed sentiments I have expressed about tobacco. When Prince Edward Island joined several other provinces in suing tobacco companies for incurring health costs I pointed out tobacco was legal and the government receives tax revenue. So how can the province hope to obtain money from tobacco companies for a product whose production and sale they abet? Of course the same could be said about alcohol”.

LG from Lethbridge, Alberta,” You were right on this week and for years I’ve enjoyed the fact that you never sit-on-the-fence in dealing with controversial issue. My accolades for enlightening the public. Keep up the good work.”

The general reaction from readers was that we are reaching a turning point in society where “Big Brother” can no longer look after us for foolish behaviour. And that our health care system, as we know it, will go down the drain unless we accept responsibility for our own health.

Improving lifestyle is really not that complicated. It all boils down to common sense. Unfortunately, in 2015, common sense has become an uncommon commodity.

This decision by an educated judge to reward people for doing things they darn well know are harmful to their health is just another example of old fashioned horse sense gone broke. 

Many years ago I wrote in this column that “The problems of our society are generated by supposedly intelligent people who are largely fools”. In the interim I have not changed my mind.

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Read Dr. W. Gifford-Jones' column each week on our Editorials/Columns section.