Siblings Tell Committee about Death of Their Grandfather

Two young siblings Mei Riwai-Couch, 7, and her brother Brigham, 9 carried life-sized coffin made of 500 cigarette packets into a parliamentary inquiry to show how their grandfather died of lung cancer, as he was a chronic chain smoker.

Brigham and Mei cared for their grandfather, aged 69, until he died of lung cancer in January 2009. Their grandfather was the last of 16 brothers and sisters to die. He used to smoke even at breakfast. "His cigarette would sit on his lip; even when he talked and wouldn't fall out, he might have taken it out to eat or to drink his coffee, but I don't really know. It was just always there.” said Brigham in his submission.

The siblings used to visit their grandfather in hospital and his skin looking pale and green and found his hands really big and rough, but they felt cold. His lungs were filling up with water. Even when they took the water out a few times, it kept coming back.

According to these siblings, cigarettes should not sold in the shops if they are so bad for health and also they want politicians to do something so no more children would have to lose people they love.

Today, a committee is sitting in Christchurch, in which these siblings will tell the Maori Affairs select committee the impact last year's death of their grandfather, Dennis MacDonald, who had smoked since he was 15, had had on them.