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!