By Juliet Speedy
The two Christchurch children who watched their grandfather die of lung cancer have delivered an emotional appeal to politicians and tobacco industry.
The primary school children told a select committee hearing that smoking laws need to be tightened up even more to stop destroying families.
The last time Mei and Brigham Riwai-Couch saw a coffin it contained their grandfather – but the one they presented to the select committee, decked out in cigarette labels, carried a message to the politicians that his death could have been avoided.
The two children are among 2,000 submitters to a select committee inquiring into why Maori smoking rates are twice that of the rest of the population.
“Grandpa got cancer from smoking, I think smoking makes your blood dry up,” Mei told the committee.
“The doctors said that grandpa had cancer in his lungs – he'd still give me cuddles and say ‘how are you boy?’ but his eyes would cry a lot,” said Brigham.
Their grandfather died last year aged 69, and today was a chance for them to send the tobacco companies a clear message.
“It makes them sick and they can't stop – even when they understand it is making them sick,” Brigham said.
“My grandpa died last year, it makes me feel sad, mum and dad teach us about the importance of family,” said Mei.
The Maori Affairs select committee has been hearing submissions right around the country including from action against smoking and health.
“We'd like to see the committee recommend a comprehensive set of measures which are going to gradually get to the point where we're going to stop tobacco being sold as a regular commercial product by the year 2020,” said Ben Youdan.
The select committee has now heard all submissions; they will present their findings to Parliament by the end of next month – hopefully ending with something for the family to finally celebrate.
source: newshub archive