Smoking – does the Nanny state have a point?

Firstly, I shall declare myself as an ex-smoker, I gave up 5 years ago give or take having smoked for 20 on and off. I’m no anti-smoker like some, but I don’t like the smell indoors any more and am quite happy not to smoke. I still love the smell of a cigar though, and occasionally I still get a craving. I’m happy for people to smoke if they want. I have the choice to move away.

Anyway, this article (linky thing) is the second story in the press this month about smoking, and I thought it worthy of debate. The first story was regarding the BMA in the UK suggesting the government should ban smoking in cars to protect children.

Now, we can all agree that children shouldn’t smoke and parents should try to be responsible around them. But ban it in cars even when there aren’t any kids in it? Come on, that’s just too much. Completely impossible to police, but more importantly, how about freedom of the individual? The debate seems to have gone away fortunately.

So, when I saw the article discussing Aussie’s new laws and how it will allegedly disadvantage those altruistic companies, Philip Morris and BAT, it made me wonder, why do governments interfere so much? I know they have the responsibility for public health, and I’m sure we can all agree that if tobacco and alcohol were invented today, they would be banned immediately.

But, if people want to smoke and drink as it is still legal, why shouldn’t they?

Now, in my humble opinion, if the government just stuck to educating and providing information then people can have the freedom to choose. Prohibition is not the answer – as seen throughout history. Legalize heroin and cannabis and you take the main attraction away, never mind the whole criminal business. But that’s another matter and I digress.

So, to almost contradict myself, I do think the stopping of smoking in restaurants and pubs is a good thing. However, that they have made it a law almost everywhere in the Western world is too much – again, choice is key. I would still go to a restaurant that allowed smoking if the food was good enough, as indeed, I could choose to work there or not.

I put myself in the position of a Government. The income from the tax on smokes is huge…. does this pay for the Health service that deals with the health issues caused by smoking? Is that even an argument any more? The main reason I stopped smoking was the price of the average pack of 20 – nowadays its nearly £7. How do kids afford it? That’s dearer than a line of white powder or the latest pill bought on the High Street on a Friday night. Far more worrying for me, as who knows with what it has been mixed.

So why is Nicola Roxon fighting this fight? Just how many people have been put off by the graphic photographs on the packaging? It wouldn’t have stopped me buying a pack. (I do recall Bearsy mentioning once that it actually had the opposite effect, but I may remember that wrong)

Is the brand name really that important? When I was an established smoker I bought the same brand each day. When I started as a kid I bought whatever was cheapest. I’m sure the average kid now does the same. So raise the price with tax (oops, not going to be popular with some charioteers!) and price kids out of even starting.

In my hurried conclusion, people smoke, always will. Just tell us that’s it’s bad for us and leave all else alone!

10 thoughts on “Smoking – does the Nanny state have a point?”

  1. You’re right, cuprum, especially your last sentence. I don’t smoke that much and buy my cigarettes (Gauloises or Gitanes, the brown ones) in Italy when we’re in France. Well, the Italian economy needs help and it’s very easy to stroll across the border at Menton.

    Oddly enough, I have some sympathy for BAT and Philip Morris as regards the counterfeiting. Since a lot of this happens in the Far East, I suppose the Australian market could be at risk. The new packaging could be easier to copy.

    Your comment that cigarettes are dearer than some drugs is particularly worrying, especially since the news of this Krokodil that’s moving across Europe from Russia and is very cheap, but lethal. This would suggest that increasing the tax on cigarettes might not be a good idea.

  2. I agree with most of what you say. I’m still a smoker and I don’t smoke in my house, either.

    The reason the tobacco companies will be ‘slightly disadvantaged’ by the plain pack nonsense is that it will make it even more easy for counterfeiters to duplicate branded packs…less income for the tobacco companies and a lot less revenue for the gubmint, (of liars,) involved.

    As you say, it won’t stop people from smoking and the effects on health can only be (even more) deleterious to people’s health. (I have seen counterfeiting ‘factories’ at first hand – you don’t want to know.)

  3. I can’t help but think that the government does have it right, despite the over reaction/ overkill factor. I used to be a smoker as well, and was more or less coerced – or forced – into giving up by an ex; it felt like censorship but now, in retrospect, I think it was quite possibly the only good thing to have come out of the relationship…
    To get back to the point, though, relatives of mine who are doctors say that the cost to the NHS, of smoking, as well as sugar addiction, actually, is staggering, and that if people just took a bit more responsibility for their own bodies instead of abusing them for years, they would not end up in such a bad way…It sounds a bit puritan, a bit fanatical, if you ask me, but then again, I have not faced the daily task of telling people that who have smoked and eaten rubbish all their lives that they are now dying.

  4. I grew up on a tobacco farm and was surrounded by smokers all my life. As kids we used to make our own corn-cob pipes stuffed with tobacco from the grading shed. I recall attending such communal events as ‘Carols by Candlelight’ with my brothers and other farming sons, puffing away furiously at the back of the hall. Inevitably it made me sick and so I never took up smoking even when it was a senior privilege at school and ‘de rigeur’. I thought if it is so cool to smoke that everybody is doing it, it ceases to be cool, or clever. So, I never have, apart from an occasional cigar which I do enjoy, even now.

    Years later I worked as a tobacco farmer myself and even attended a tobacco training institute where we learned just about all there was to know about growing the stuff. Even then I never felt any inclination to smoke. While I had a low opinion of the habit, I was quite happy for others, especially overseas markets to consume tobacco. It was good for our economy and meant a bigger bonus for me.

    I have been accused of being hypocrite for selling a product that I would not consume myself. Perhaps it is a fair comment, but while I dislike smoking and think less than might otherwise be the case of people who do smoke, especially those who have taken it up in the past 30 years after so much negative press, I absolutely defend their right to do so and the right of proprietors to allow them to smoke on their premises.

    One of my pet peeves is the way people leave the restaurant or dining room to go outside and have a cigarette. Apart from the fact that it is f***ing rude, it really disrupts the meal and is extremely selfish. Though I do not like the smell of cigarettes I would rather people stay at the table and smoke in front of me, even in my house, than break up the party. However, when it is not my house and I do not have control, it is that selfishness and bad manners as well as the weakness of not being able to go a few hours without a cigarette that makes me think less of smokers. Ironically, I used to think that smokers tended to be nicer and less anal people than non-smokers. They were more fun. Now I think of them as being selfish, weak minded, addicts. I blame the anti-smoking campaigns and tobacco bans for my change in attitude. I know there are several smokers on this site and I do not mean to offend them, but that really is the effect of all this social engineering.

    I do not understand the nanny-state interference one bit. If they were really concerned about health, they would ban or at least tax fast foods. I have no doubt that the tax revenues from the tobacco industry more than cover the health cost of smokers. If there is any truth behind the risk of smoking then I am pretty sure that they save the state money by the very fact that they die that much earlier. It is their choice, let them do it.

  5. I have never really smoked, apart form the odd fag behind the bike sheds at school.

    If I had ever thought about smoking, an (unauthorised) tour round the dissecting room of the Medical Faculty at my Uni with a good friend, who was a medical student, would have done enough to convince me never to take up it up.

    As for the Nanny state theme in this post, I think people should be free to do what they want, but only with the proviso that smokers pay much higher insurance premiums, which in general they do, and much higher National Insurance contributions, which they don’t

  6. I am and always have been a non smoker, had a couple of puffs as teenager and thought “this tastes foul”. Both my parents were smokers and I think this put me and my sisters off, the dreadful smell of stale tobacco that permeated the air and the car.
    Ban it in cars, I can see the danger of smoking or in fact holding anything in a car other than a steering wheel or the wife’s knee, not because of any other reason; but then the mobile phone ban has had no effect.
    As for packaging, what the hell is the point of it, it wont stop people wanting to smoke.

    Cost to NHS, I think without smokers our tax would rise to cover the loss of revenue, so all you smokers you have paid for your treatment and more so carry on puffing.

    Now restaurants and bars, sorry but I think the ban on smoking is great, when I go into a restaurant for food I want to taste the food and not the foul smell of stale tobacco, the same with a pub, I do not want to come out stinking like an old ash tray.

    Before any one says choice, for years non smokers had no choice as very few pubs would cut out a percentage of their clients that another pub would welcome. There were a couple of watering holes in the City that were non smoking years ago and they were packed, but then I can only think of 3 pubs in the square mile.

    I am afraid smokers have never worried or cared about others, with cigar smokers being the worst offenders.

    Perhaps the ban could have been better implemented by allowing pubs to have a separate room for smokers, one that is fully partitioned off and not one end of the bar, but the area should be no more than 1/3 of the total customer area, off course with no bar in the room to protect bar staff. As for food areas, most certainly a ban on fags.

  7. I remember Bearsy and Boacidea talking abot ‘their ‘smoking terrace’. Quite so and thus your house does not smell of nicotine. Likewise in a car – crack a window open when on the move and al the smoke is sucked out. The 23 whatsoevers in a car is as much bolleaux as nanny’s number-of-alcohol-units-per-week.

    OZ

  8. Forgetting the ‘nanny state’ side of things:

    smoking has such an awful accumulative effect on health
    cigarettes are so addictive and some people become more addicted than others.
    I have sympathy for those who are addicted and feel unable to give up,
    I have seen so much suffering through the addiction and its often slow method of killing (oral cancers, mouth cancers, chronic airways disease to name a few.)
    I have never smoked and feel so relieved now we can go out to a pub or other eating area and not have to suffer the smoke of others.
    Clothes no longer require washing after one wear in a smoky atmosphere.

    How can smoking be reduced to reduce the related illnesses, without resorting to making it socially unacceptable, and legislating against it? I agree that the idea of banning smoking in cars would be virtually impossible to police, but that smoking in the same enclosed space as a child should be seen as abuse.

  9. You know this persecution of smokers and the global warmists etc make me feel that the sooner I depart with my well earned lung cancer the better!
    Sick and tired of the whole bloody lot of them.
    The sooner they get back to counting angels on pin heads the better for the rest of us.

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