Kiwi Polemicist

September 4, 2009

• Nanny-state proposal for reducing smoking

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This is from the NZ Herald:

A proposal to license tobacco retailers and turn cigarette packs into plain packages bearing only health warnings has found strong support.

In planning for the “end game” of widespread tobacco use, researchers canvassed public health physicians, policy officials in the Ministry of Health and other departments, and journalists.

They floated five proposals:

[1] Creating a Smokefree Commission that could require licensing of retailers, ban sales near schools, take over wholesaling, and end the glossy branding of tobacco and cigarette packets, turning them into generic, plainly packaged products displaying only health warnings.

[2] A weaker form of the commission, with licensing, but keeping existing links between suppliers and retailers.

[3] Progressively reducing tobacco import quotas, which would probably force prices up.

[4] Changing the law to make it easier to sue tobacco firms successfully.

[5] Making the tobacco industry responsible for reducing smoking, with stiff penalties if it failed to meet targets.

There is so much wrong with this insane and evil plan that it’s hard to know where to start. Here’s a partial list:

  • I find it hard to believe that anyone would be so naive as to think that this would actually reduce the consumption of cigarettes. Illegal drugs almost always come in plain packaging and as far as I know no one has said “I don’t like buying marijuana when it’s wrapped in tin foil so I’ll quit right now”.
  • this is yet another example of state employees trying to tell everyone else what’s good for them
  • this scheme would also be a violation of property rights, i.e. it would control what cigarette companies do with the packaging that they own (as do the current regulations)
  • “take over wholesaling” – sounds like Communism to me
  • banning sales near schools would be a violation of property rights that would effectively be stealing money from shop owners (by reducing their profits)
  • a Commission would be yet another waste of taxpayer’s money
  • licensing would be yet another compliance cost for businesses that are being bled dry by the government
  • when it comes to suing tobacco companies I have no sympathy for the claimants because nowadays everyone knows that smoking is bad for you. I understand that there was a time when tobacco companies told lies and hid the truth, but even then common sense would have told people (if they’d listened) that inhaling smoke that makes you cough is bad for you. Making it easier to sue tobacco companies is a Marxist notion based on the belief that big business is bad
  • making the tobacco industry responsible for reducing smoking? Have these people been smoking something that isn’t tobacco?

Where do these totalitarian nanny-state ideas come from? From a bunch of university academics of course. It’s no coincidence that these people – who are state employees – almost always come up with ideas that further the state’s plans. All around the world we see that academics are hand in glove with the state, history shows that most of the leftist ideas come from academic circles, and a great many politicians come from academic backgrounds. Why do people teach in universities (or any school)? Because they want to control what future generations think, and people who want to control other people are attracted to politics, so a move from academia to politics is perfectly natural. Just think about Helen Clark’s career.

The bottom line is this: the state has no right to control what people put into their bodies. Furthermore, it is unjust to penalise shop owners and tobacco companies when attempting to control what people put into their bodies. The state should butt out and mind its own business, because it has no business taking an interest in tobacco in any way whatsoever (no pun intended).

I hope to see a free world where shops can sell whatever they like to whoever wants to buy it and each smoker bears the cost of their decisions, rather than having taxpayers bear the cost when they are dying of emphysema. The cost of health insurance would be a true and just disincentive for smokers.

What do you think about this proposal and the points that I have raised?

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Related posts:

The pointless death of an undercover policeman

The minimum drinking age

Sue Kedgely can’t force people to live healthy lives

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