cigarettes are code for proletarian

Frances Bolton (PHI) fbolton at
Fri Dec 11 13:52:14 PST 1998

I was in Cuba this summer and had the opportunity to visit a hospital. One of the people I was with asked how Cuba was dealing with the public health aspect of smoking, what with the cigar cult and all. We were told they did "extensive education" and printed warnings on all their cigarette packages. The doctor was lying--I bought cigarettes there and there was nothing about the dangers of smoking on the package. And everyone there smokes, except for the people trying to sell their cigarette rations on the black market.


On Fri, 11 Dec 1998, Louis Proyect wrote:

> Doug:
> >As for the relation between smoking and capitalism, what was Fidel thinking
> >during all those decades he smoked cigars?
> From a 1994 speech:
> We can continue advancing, with the resources we have of this system of
> primary health care, which no one else has, through the family doctor
> program. We have to learn to work. We have to say that we have not learned
> how to make it work. We have not learned how to work with it yet. We have
> to improve the work of the family doctors' system. We are sure that, with
> the quality of life that our country has, with the diet our country has,
> and with these possibilities, life expectancy will continue to increase.
> But, furthermore, I believe that all of us, beginning with me, we have to
> change our conduct and lifestyle. The habit of smoking is still very
> widespread here in our country. We have a high percentage of doctors that
> still smoke in this country. We were saying to the comrades in Sancti
> Spiritus that despite all of their achievements, 34 percent of the doctors
> in that province are smoking. We cannot be an example that way....
> From a 1993 speech:
> For many years, Cuba has been fighting for the Third World at the United
> Nations, independent of our interests; defending issues that many times
> went against our national interests. I can cite an example: Cuba
> immediately supported the campaign against smoking. However, tobacco is one
> of Cuba's most important sources of hard currency. We did not hesitate to
> support the global health campaign because it was in the interest of
> mankind's health. And like this, there are many other things for which Cuba
> has waged a consistent battle all through the Revolution. We have been
> preventing problems. We have been foreseeing them; unfortunately, they are
> becoming ever greater realities.
> From a 1991 speech:
> The struggle is very difficult. The least we can say regarding the
> circumstances is that we should all struggle in our countries, in our
> fields, to improve medical care and health conditions of the population. We
> need to continue to struggle a lot. We need to continue perfecting what we
> have and overcoming the deficiencies we still have. They can be other types
> of battles; they are no longer technological. They can be social in nature
> or regarding education; for example, the battle against smoking that we
> have to wage. It is big, simply big. What education measures can we adopt?
> What type of economic measures? In spite of the fact that we have never
> followed the policy of low prices for alcohol or tobacco. On the contrary,
> we have followed the policy of low prices for milk and foodstuffs but not
> for these vices.
> What type of arrangement can we have to get better success in this battle?
> [Words indistinct] we watch the alcoholism matter quite a bit, and we are
> willing to prevent this from being a problem here, of course. We have
> problems with early pregnancy. This is a battle we are waging. We have not
> won it completely. Progress is being made, according to what family doctors
> said here.
> Louis Proyect
> (

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