Some might call them nanny-state measures, but I have no problem supporting smoke free laws.
Smokers’ right to indulge their addiction comes a very distant second to other people’s right to breathe uncontaminated air.
It’s a filthy habit and while I understand that once addicted to tobacco it’s very difficult to give it up, I’ve never understood why anyone would want to take it up in the first place. It’s even more difficult to understand now it’s illegal in indoor workplaces and smokers are forced on to the streets where they huddle against the weather getting their fixes.
I’ve never had a problem with the imposition of tax on tobacco either because high price must be an incentive to quit.
However, there is a point where taxes get so high it creates a black market. That’s happening in Australia where home-grown tobacco – called chop chop has a ready market. Cigarette smuggling is also a problem there and in Britain where young women are being offered free holidays abroad if they’ll smuggle cigarettes back with them.
That’s why I don’t support Hone Harawira’s call to ban cigarettes completely.
On Q&A this morning he said:
I’d like to see the production sale and manufacture of tobacco in Aotearoa banned yeah. I think that unlike alcohol and other drugs which people like, with cigarettes most people actually want to stop more than 80% of smokers want to stop, so it’s not like there’s going to be a black market, it’s an opportunity for us to do something to help this country become healthy.
He’s wrong. Prohibition doesn’t work.
Making it even more difficult for people to smoke in public places, exerting social pressure, doing whatever can be done to show it’s an unattractive, unhealthy and stupid thing to do might work. Banning tobacco completely won’t, it will only create a black market.