Cruel Intentions

If smoking makes other peoples’ day, well, it ruins mine. The toxic smoke disorients my consciousness, disturbs my serenity, and brings my soul forlorn. People don’t even need to look up its vile health hazards on any reference, cigarette packs already waived any responsibility on the danger its buyers are on putting on their life by taking up the habit. This makes me ponder on why anyone would ever invent those death sticks. It wouldn’t bother me if it would be just the smokers alone who will suffer, as they’re the only one enjoying it, but unfortunately, this is not the real scenario. Smokers enjoy, while secondhand smokers are being stolen of life. Smokers annihilate themselves with the poison stick, yet they live longer. While the non-smokers who carefully lives without vices dies first, as they powerlessly take in the same nicotine and toxic chemicals as the users do.

Many diseases are associated with smoking, such as stroke, cancer, heart-attack and pneumonia. They know, perhaps they just don’t care, and I just can’t see the rationale of cigarette’s availability. It just contradicts the basic law, that no one shall unjustly enrich himself at the expense of another.

“The passage of this [sin tax] bill is a victory in our campaign to protect our people, especially the young and the poor, from the ill effects of smoking,” said Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona, Philippine Information Agency(11/21/12).

A fake victory is what he talks about.

I can’t even imagine how the minds of those lawmakers operate and how they do their Math. Can’t they see that approving sin tax bill or Senate Bill 3299 as amended (An Act Restructuring the Excise Tax on Alcohol and Tobacco), is not the answer, but total banning is? Can’t they figure out the big difference from x (revenue from cigar Tax) and y (Health care expenses)? Can’t they see that no matter how many pesos they designate as tax, smokers will not stop, and contraband cigarettes will surely be there in no time? We know Filipinos are resourceful, aren’t we?

And what can the added tax really do? Add burden to those cigarette vendors and workers, who will surely be affected as cigarette prices increase?

And if cigarettes will still be produced, it is no doubt that a big percentage of the government’s fund will be appropriated for Health.

I can recall how a big sarcastic smile was etched on my face when an ABS-CBN news relayed that the government project revenues of about P40B from sin tax, which will be used to expand PhilHealth coverage and other health-related projects of the government.

If only they think deeper and realize that tax revenues from cigars will just mothball into expenses for health care, maybe they will earn more respect from their people. They must provide livelihood to former tobacco farmers, cigarette vendors and workers, a livelihood that won’t endanger the health of their countrymen.

I still remember an incident while I was buying barbeque and isaw for dinner. Near our house, a mother was almost in tears while scolding her 8-year-old son, saying, “You’re too young to do that!” A few minutes before, her innocent son was learning to smoke at the darkest part of the eskinita.

The sari-sari store owner told us that the little boy bought the cigarette from their store and used his father’s name. I pitied the little boy. If only the store owner didn’t tolerate selling cigarette to minors, maybe young lives won’t be endangered. Or perhaps, if he didn’t saw anyone in his community or good-looking actors smoke, maybe he wouldn’t have been curious.

I stand without doubt. Cigarettes should be totally banned from the country.

If they wouldn’t be, kittens, as usual will be curious.

Smokers are going to smoke; haters are going to hate, and potatoes are going to potate.

Karen Ailene P. Benavidez


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