I am a cigarette scold.
Ask my smoking friends, or the ones who are still around. I get in their face, demanding to know why they want to kill themselves and bring grief to their families. I've even been known to do it to strangers.
Part of the reason is personal. I've lost eleven tobacco-addicted friends to lung cancer, most recently a Montana ranch woman who could survive a terrible horse riding accident, long bitter winters and hard, hard work -- but not cigarettes
The other motivation is the high cost of American health care. Most national health experts say if you want to have an immediate impact on the high cost of health, outlaw cigarettes and reduce the cancer, emphysema, heart attacks and second hand smoke consequences they bring with them.
So I was thrilled to see that CVS -- the giant pharmacy chain -- announce it was going out of the cigarette business even though it meant a two billion dollar loss in sales. Two billion, with a "b."
CVS is more and more in the health care business -- providing vaccinations, clinics and the like -- and selling cigarettes was not just inappropriate, but not good for the growing health care piece of their business plan.
Smokers will say they have a right to make their own decisions. We heard those same arguments about drinking and driving and about resisting seat belts. Think of how many lives and dollars the two changes in driving have saved.
I grew up in the smoking Fifties and couldn't wait to graduate from high school sports to Lucky Strikes or whatever brand tobacco companies would distribute free to incoming freshmen classes.
So thank you, CVS for putting health, a national security issue, over profit.
You didn't lose my cigarette business because I haven't smoked in 45 years. But you did gain my admiration -- and I now know where I'll buy my toothpaste, razors, shampoo, cold tablets, cough drops, sunscreen and vitamin pills.
There really is no such thing as a smoke free envionment unless we ban the source.
SRDJAN ZIVULOVIC / Reuters file
Image: A man taps ashes off his cigarette into an ashtray.
First published February 6 2014, 1:48 PM
Tom Brokaw has spent his entire distinguished journalism career with NBC News beginning in 1966 in the Los Angeles bureau where he covered Ronald Reaganâ€™s first run for public office, the rise of the Sixties counter culture, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and the 1968 presidential campaign.
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From Los Angeles, Brokaw went to Washington as the White House correspondent during Watergate and as the principal back up for John Chancellor as anchor of NBC Nightly News. Next stop: New York and the TODAY Show followed by his appointment as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.
He took over Meet the Press for the 2008 campaign when his close friend and colleague Tim Russert died.
In addition to his daily news gathering responsibilities, Brokaw reported on more than thirty documentaries covering subjects ranging from AIDS, Los Angeles gangs, race, education, medicine, immigration and global warming.
He has an impressive list of firsts, including the first interview with Mikhail Gorbachev; the first network report on human rights abuses in Tibet accompanied by an exclusive interview with the Dali Lama; the only American network anchor to report from Berlin the night the Berlin wall came down.
In 1998 Brokaw published his first book, THE GREATEST GENERATION, one of the most popular nonfiction books of the 20th century. He followed that with five other books, including BOOM! VOICES OF THE SIXTIES and, most recently, THE TIME OF OUR LIVES.
He is also a popular essayist for publications ranging from THE NEW YORK TIMES to ROLLING STONE and a wide assortment of other periodicals and newspapers.
Brokaw has won every major award in his craft, including Peabody, Duponts, Emmys and lifetime achievement recognition.