Friday, May 27, 2011



  "Never begrudge a hungry person a meal", Gran'Pa Downie admonished me often. I live within sight of a church which offers meals once a week to members of the community in need. The need is there in large numbers and I commend the Cluster and their affiliated church members who make it all possible.
  But, I am also a little confused. Just how much does a cigarette cost ? 
  With the breeze coming my way, numerous wafts of tobacco smoke came to me on my porch from the church parking lot when the meal was over. I paid special attention from my vantage point to count how many dinner guests lit up as they left the church. My count told me over a quarter of the adults lit up cigarettes as they departed. 
  Who am I, a person who smoked - who last smoked a cigarette 50 years ago - to question those who smoke ? I point out this episode to question the fact
of needy people showing up for free food because they're financially strapped, but yet, many have money to buy cigarettes. I guess we all live our lives prioritizing what is vitally important to us at the time we act on it. 
  Those who supply and serve food to the needy must wonder when they see so many light up on expensive cigarettes. The Cluster people, I'm sure, know the ills of smoking pointed out by the science of medicine. The question remains, is one of the factors 
of poverty a need to continue smoking by spending scarce dollars to supply this craving ? 
  Further, should society urge the Cluster to educate their wards, the poor they service, about not only the cost of buying cigarettes, but also, about the costs involved in reduced health viability from smoking ? It seems the poor need to be fed both through their stomachs and, also, through their minds. 
  Again I ask, how much does a cigarette cost ?

Ronald C. Downie

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