• julianwatkins

Cancer for Kids?

When I was 9 years old my mates, sister and I befriended an eccentric, alcoholic, chain smoking, local widow named Mrs Carter. Our unlikely friendship with this colourful character had benefits: we had access to a fascinating house, largely untouched by the passage of time, and adorned with pictures of the young and beautiful Mrs C with her military husband.

She wasn’t a big walker and we were regularly dispatched to the local shops to buy her Player’s No 6 cigarettes and could use the change to buy whatever we wanted (a quarter of sherbet lemons being popular).

The shopkeeper knew the law – this was the late 70s, and even then, selling cigarettes to minors was illegal – but was unconcerned. After all, we’d told him the cigarettes were for Mrs Carter. However, one friend did experiment with a cigarette or two and he smokes to this day.

This feels like a lifetime ago. Mrs Carter was taken into a psychiatric hospital in the early 80s and years later I heard she’d died; I was more upset than I expected to be.

Times have changed and I struggle to imagine similar friendships developing in the modern world, while the thought of primary school children buying cigarettes is unthinkable.

But interestingly, today my young kids could legally buy cancer causing products (as classified by the World Health Organisation) in any grocery store and no-one would be concerned at all.

So, here’s the thing: if you’re wondering where to begin your family’s dietary health journey, start with the foods doing you most harm: eliminate processed meats.

By the way, the picture of the cigarettes on this blog is an actual pack we saved; my mum’s been using it to organise bits and bobs with to this day.

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