Let’s be truthful and honest. I’m an addict. Like all addicts I need my daily fix. I’m not alone, there are a lot of us out there. Normally we are just law-abiding citizens enjoying our cancer sticks. But as a Chinese curse has it: “May you live in interesting times.”

I, personally, find the times very interesting. Last week, the provincial government lowered its taxes on cigarettes by $11 and the federal government followed with a $10 tax-cut. Cigarettes now cost as low as $2.50 per package of 25 here in Montreal. Personally, being an addict, I know the prices I’ve paid for cigarettes in Mistissini in years gone by. The last time I bought cigarettes back home, they cost me $4.50. Doesn’t that mean that in some way I paid taxes while residing on reserve land? Could be financially interesting for some bands to look into.

You could say the tax money is put to good use helping to prevent smoking. I’ve heard of a few good prevention programs, but where are the government-funded programs to stop smoking? Most of the effective programs I’ve heard about are out of my pocket-book range. Life insurance expresses how bad smoking is by charging you high rates. The stats are there but I guess the cheap fix will keep me going.

I’m not complaining. I’ve always considered tobacco taxes to be “sin” taxes. Something non-smokers could at times feel morally superior for. And, well, does an addict ever really complain too much about the price?

Yes, they do, and in interesting ways. Take, for example, a farmer in Quebec. He attempted to lease out his land in small plots. Included in the price were his professional services to grow tobacco on your behalf. You can guess how fast the government lawyers descended upon this quickly forgotten hero of the tobacco revolt. Now we needed something Kennedyish to highlight these interesting times. It seems you could buy cigarettes in Canada, send them to the U.S., allegedly “smuggle” these same cigarettes back into Canada, then sell them for three or four dollars and still make reputedly an ungodly profit.

Did I not say that some native bands might find this financially interesting? Understand, I am not advocating or supporting smuggling. I am merely asking how much we were illegally taxed for cigarettes on Indian reserves. Perhaps the money would be better spent at home. I’ll gladly donate my tobacco tax rebate in advance to the Mistissini band.

Isn’t it interesting all the trouble our sacred plant seems to be causing?