But I believe that we all have a responsibility to do work that benefits the world around us. The tobacco industry does none of this. Its product kills. Its makers cynically fight efforts to hold them at least partially accountable for some of this cost to society.
I attended college in the shadow – and smell – of Imperial Tobacco’s main plant in
Now, a community reels as its high-paying (average: over $84,000/year) jobs are about to go up in smoke. I feel immensely sorry for those who will lose their jobs. But I felt compelled to say it now because I didn’t see anyone else saying it: the industry has had decades to change direction. People who work for tobacco firms have had just as much time to find similarly lucrative work.
I feel awful for their loss, but at the same time I figure society gains from the gradual drawing down of big tobacco’s ability to foist its killer products on us. Eventually, we all win.
Disclosure: I am the son of a man whose longtime smoking habit put him on a trajectory of chronic cardiac disease, multiple surgeries and a reduced quality of life. It has shaped my life – and that of our entire family – in ways I would rather have avoided. So I guess you can say I’ve got a bit of a chip on my shoulder.
Tobacco closings have silver lining
Published Saturday, October 22, 2005
Free Press London
Imperial Tobacco’s announcement that it’s closing its
Aylmerand plants leaves me feeling ambivalent. Guelph
As a wage-earning, bill-paying member of my community, I feel empathy for the 635 employees who will lose their jobs. The affected communities will suffer and I wish we could all cushion their blow.
But as much as we feel for the employees, tobacco remains a killer. We’ve had stark scientific evidence of this for over 40 years. Consumers seem to have gotten this message, as Imperial’s cigarette sales have tumbled 38 per cent since December 1994.
The closing of the plants hardly comes as a surprise. Those have relied on the tobacco-driven economy had ample warning to wean themselves off the business benefits of this legalized drug.
While these communities prospered, thousands of Canadians were dying premature deaths as a result of their addictive output.
These closings, then, come with a silver lining. And a lesson: When you make a deal with the devil, you may occasionally get burned.