In his keynote address on February 3, 2014, Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, said that most legislation that is introduced in the House of Representatives is based on a Congressman or Congresswoman who has had an experience that fueled their passion in getting the law passed.
It is no secret that President Barack Obama was passionate about his healthcare reform act as a result of the death of his mother who was denied healthcare when she became terminally ill with cancer. Cummings used the example of AIDS and how members who had had family members to die from the disease have become passionate about legislation to help AIDS victims.
Former Press Aid Jim Brady and his family became leaders in Gun Control reform after he was critically wounded in the attempt on President Reagan’s life on March 30, 1981. The present writer, who was in a meeting with the editor of The Los Angeles Times at the time of the shooting, was told that Gun Control would be at the center of the debate as a result of the shooting.. The Brady bill was the result of the passionate effort to end gun violence after Reagan was shot.
The reaction to a critical illness or near death experience is the cause of many acts to save people’s lives. The recent news release from CVS that it will stop selling cigarettes was reported on this page on February 5th, the day after the report on the passionate speech by the Congressman; however, the passion for reporting the information that was released to the press that day actually began as Cummings said, in October 1989, when Mrs. James Earl Metze, Sr., came to the writer’s residence to report that his father had been taken to Richland Memorial Hospital after being paralyzed as the result of lung cancer that had metastasized and spread to his brain.
A habit that had developed during his service in World War II and turned into a two pack a day addiction had reduced a 220 pound man into a 70 pound body with blackened lungs gasping for breath. The lung cancer came from smoking cigarettes that were sold in drugstores like CVS. Christmas 1989 was spent in the hospital while the family watched as a man died.
The decision by CVS to ban cigarette sales will be viewed by some skeptics as a crass commercial move to capitalize on the healthcare craze sweeping the nation. However, for the present writer, the action is a culmination of a thought on Christmas Eve 1989 in Richland Memorial Hospital as he watched his father dying from the cigarettes he purchased at the corner drugstore every day of his life.
CVS decision to stop selling cigarettes to its customers serves as a reminder that people will use drugs until the drug kills them. Teenage boys smoking in the bathroom at 13 do not realize that the drug will kill them at 60. CVS does.
James Earl Metze wished that he had never started smoking cigarettes. Caring for him in the last months of his life revealed many secrets about unfortunate choices he made in 60 years. Smoking cigarettes was one of those choices.
The decision by CVS will save lives and serves customers well.