Now there's a positive headline to begin 2017!
Cigarettes are the most effective killing machine on the planet. Something radical has to be done to stop 1 in 7 of children becoming smokers.
1 billion people smoke cigarettes which in time will kill half of its users amounting to over 6 million people each year. That's equivalent to wiping out the population of Britain in a decade.
Meanwhile, the world leading tobacco companies boast an income of $315 billion and the top 6 companies make profits of $44bn.
Tobacco deaths account for 20% of all cancer cases. 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year. And before people buy into the highly addictive E- cigarettes as the 'healthy' option, according to the World Cancer Report, they contain 3,000 chemicals and 28 carcinogens with similar nasties as cigarettes.
Just as 1,000 leading doctors are calling on Theresa May to create a brave new policy on smoking, a bold clear thinking leader could easily introduce a Super Tax forcing tobacco companies to set aside monies to build and run standalone cancer hospitals exclusively for the use of its loyal customers that they are killing. This would reduce substantial pressure on hospitals and release monies to care for people who do not choose habits that make them ill.
There are enough people sadly affected by illness not of their own making, so let's eradicate the illnesses that are of our making and penalise the industries that make money out of suffering.
Every problem can be solved if we deal with the cause. It's all about the cause but who wants to deal with the cause?
Obama just announced a bill to spend $6.3 billion to fight cancer over the next decade. Very admirable.
BUT how stupid are we?
Over 2.5 million of cancer deaths per year are avoidable. Main causes being SMOKING, OVEREATING, ALCOHOL ABUSE.
It's a sad fact of life that we are safest and cause less harm to ourselves and others when we are asleep!
Just as governments found the banks to be sitting ducks to fine handsomely for their misdemeanours, there is far higher justification to target the tobacco companies to save lives, save tax-payers money, save grief, save pain and save suffering.
Our addictions and bad habits cause the majority of our problems but only when we accept this brutal naked truth do we realise we have the power to change ourselves rather than pollute ourselves. Life is tough enough without making ourselves ill.
Many amazing people help and inspire us to overcome our addictions, yet governments are slow to do what is right to implement radical and aggressive change. It should be mandatory for school children to visit cancer wards from a young age to see the effects of cigarette and alcohol abuse as part of the curriculum as well as drug addiction facilities to witness how drugs can destroy people.
I have recently been staying in Manhattan Beach, a smoke free city in California. Here you can't smoke outside anywhere. Someone made it happen. Other cities and countries could easily follow.
On Christmas Day, the legendary George Michael passed away. On the same day, a brave friend of mine Murray Goldstein also left us. Murray had an important message for the smokers in the world:
"My father was a heavy smoker all his life. He lived to 90 with the occasional cough. Had I known then that he was the exception to the rule I probably would never have become addicted. But in those days, there was no information available that told you smoking was bad for the health.
I smoked a few packets a day from the age of 16 and had a heart attack in my 30s because of smoking and poor diet. I carried on smoking which ruined my chance of a healthy life.
The last 12 years have been a form of purgatory as I have developed COPD - chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - which is irreversible, fighting for every breath. My world has revolved around my illness, affecting my near and dear ones especially my wife who has made a great sacrifice to care for me. During the last few years I have needed 24 hour care and the emergency services have revived me several times.
My advice to present day smokers - GIVE IT UP BEFORE YOU GET ILL - it's not as hard as you think. Don't wait until the first heart attack or the news that you have cancer. Please learn from my mistakes. I stopped 8 years ago and have never had any cravings and I was a forty-a-day man for years!"
Congratulations to all smokers who finally kick the habit and take Murray's advice.
Meanwhile, our leaders would do well to reflect on Gandhi's wise words:
"The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world's problems."