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Curing Tobacco

Written By: - Date published: 11:10 am, May 28th, 2012 - 125 comments
Categories: class war, cost of living, national/act government - Tags: , ,

So tobacco is a ridiculously addictive drug that offers no accompanying high for the user. It has pretty dire health consequences and was promoted for years as harmless, chic and sophisticated and the government even gave it away to combatants during WWII by the carton load.

But now the government wants it gone.

As a smoker I have no problem with the prospect of tobacco disappearing. What I do have a problem with is the stupid and cruel strategy being pursued by government. I think it’s fairly widely accepted that tobacco use is more prevalent among low socio-economic sections of society. So why punish the already financially precarious with ever rising prices?  Where did the thought come from that beating people with the proverbial stick was a good idea or even an efficacious one?

If the government was serious about ending tobacco use and avoiding the emergence of a black market in the stuff with all the concomitant illegal activity which that entails, here’s what it would do.

Set a date by which all tobacco users register their status as smokers. Institute a complete ban on the sale of tobacco from that date. And open government run tobacco ‘outlets’ where users can go on a weekly basis to pick up their tobacco on ‘scipt’.

And in 20 years or 30 years, or how ever long it takes all us ‘filfy smokers’ to shuffle this mortal coil, tobacco use will be at zero.

My understanding is that this was the policy used to combat opium use. Registered users were committed to imbibe in registered opium dens and opium use dropped substantially in subsequent years.

Of course, there is a difference with opium. It offers a high to its users and comes in various forms. And so illegal consumption continued and new users popped up all the time. That wouldn’t be the case with tobacco. There is no high. And if tobacco is being offered to users on prescription, then there is no basis from which a black market could form. What would be the point?

There is a reason behind sneaking methadone out from the chemist or procuring home bake or boiling poppy seeds etc and offering these things for sale on the ‘open market’ or ingesting them on a personal level. But tobacco?! It just wouldn’t happen. And the reason it wouldn’t happen is because that high…that pay off… isn’t there.

Give current users their weekly dose of however many grammes or ‘tailor mades’ and they will simply smoke that amount. They won’t ‘on-sell’ it, for the reasons given and they won’t scurry around seeking other sources of nicotine to heighten any buzz. Throw in a level of support for those who feel able to quit and there is a simple effective way to remove tobacco from society without punishing people.

As I said at the beginning of the post, it is the more financially precarious who tend to smoke. Many say it is their only pleasure. Perhaps that is in much the same vein as those who enjoy a fine cheese or a particularly nice cut of meat etc. As such, there is nothing unusual in it. But cheeses and meats aren’t highly addictive. So leave the fuck alone people who can’t generally afford the fine cheeses or the nice cuts of meat and let them indulge their pleasures just the same as everyone else and lay off with the heavy handed punishments.

As an aside to this post I have a question born of curiosity that somebody might be able to answer. I’m going to emphasise, this is an aside and not intended to generate general comment. Is anyone aware of studies that may have been done comparing lung cancer rates among smokers in industrial zones compared to those living rurally? Or studies on the contribution made to lung cancer stats by car emissions? Or on any correlation between the hundreds of atmospheric nuclear tests through the 40’s -80’s and increases in cancer rates due to the release of ‘hot particles’ into the environment?

The reason I ask is that I suspect smoking, deleterious to health as it is, is being used as a convenient ‘catch all’ to divert attention away from other potentially major contributors to cancer rates. It’s easy to blame the ‘personal choice’ of smoking for cancer and generate guilt and opprobrium via the introduction of cancer caused by ‘second hand’ smoke. Governments and institutions can ‘stand back’ from that scenario and castigate the individual for damaging the general health and well being of society. Not so with emissions that result from burning petro-chemical derivatives or molecular sized ‘hot particles’ generated by nuclear testing.

125 comments on “Curing Tobacco ”

  1. shorts 1

    I pay all my taxes
    I also smoke

    I resent being labelled some sort of social pariah due to my addiction (which I generally enjoy)
    I resent being treated as an easy source of extra tax revenue

    I don’t want to give up, but am seriously considering so due to the continual price (tax) hikes – I guess this is a victory for the anti smoking lobby

    bloody wowsers… dictating how I live my life

    could someone please pass me some booze, seems thats all good under this regime

    • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1

      Smokers health cost far outweigh any taxes raised, thats why you are a social pariah.
      No one is dictating how you live your life, just that you pay for it. No different than a Ferarri

      Not much help that they ‘die early’ as the major medical costs are in the last year of life, early or not

        • mike e

          Goose As you’ve pointed out many times before when is treasury ever right!
          Loss of productivity, family leadership, lost time at work that smokers waste.
          If this was a new drug to the market say like kronic everybody would be up in arms.

          • McFlock

            ” If this was a new drug to the market say like kronic everybody would be up in arms.”
            Because marijuana prohibition works so well?

      • McFlock 1.1.2

        Not often I agree with Gos.
        And btw almost everybody, smoker or not, incurs significant medical costs in the last years of their life.

        • Psycho Milt

          Yes, and that matches overseas findings that smokers are actually less of a financial burden than non-smokers because they tend to die (relatively) young from something that kills them quickly. The bollocks about tobacco excise not paying the costs of smoking is just ASH propaganda.

      • Wonker 1.1.3

        Mythical BS – smokers pay more in tax than they consume of healthcare resources. They help fund fatties, the old, and those with the ill-luck of accidents / unavoidable medical conditions.

      • Vicky32 1.1.4

        Smokers health cost far outweigh any taxes raised, thats why you are a social pariah.

        Not true, as Treasury admitted just today. Oh, BTW, ‘different than’, absolutely wrong!!! Very fashionable, very American and therefore super-trendy, but still wrong.

      • Majella 1.1.5

         Smokers health cost far outweigh any taxes raised

        Not so, apparently, according to that recent Treasury   report…smokers pay their way, net-net.

        I smoked from age 14 (when 20 Pall Mall was 2/6) to age 53, with one period of 2 years when I managed to stay off it, and many other periods of at least months.  I smoked through all of those years, and only latterly realised that I actually despised my weakness, and practial enslavement to the tobacco industry & the tax man.

        While I had many times stopped smoking, it wasn’t till last year, with the help of Quitline subsidy & the magical Zyban, that I finally became a NON-SMOKER. now, when I come across a smoker, I can’t believe how bad I must have smelt! That is what makes smokers ‘pariahs’ as much as anythning else – that, and a sense that it’s an on-going choice to smoke, so whatever befalls the smoker, including taxes, is self-inflicted.

        The idea of a government-run outlet is not so far away. A wee birdie informs that the “Smoke Free 2025” strategy already plans this very course within a few years – tobacco by prescrition only. Brilliant. 

        This whole strategy does not impinge on a smoker’s right to consume tobacco in any way, but the circumstances in which that right is exercised will become harder & harsher.

        Does anyone else recall the scene in the movie “Repo Man” (1984 – Harry Dean Stanton) where a character goes to a bar to meet his mother. She’s a smoker and the smokers are all crowded into a glass-walled box in one corner of teh room. There appears to be no ventilation and the smoke is so thick you cannot see anyone till they come right to the glass. Compared with that solution, the current option seems to be extremely considerate!

        • Bill

          The idea of a government-run outlet is not so far away. A wee birdie informs that the “Smoke Free 2025″ strategy already plans this very course within a few years – tobacco by prescrition only. Brilliant.

          If your ‘wee birdie’ is correct, then not only is the current policy cruel and stupid, but would appear to be driven by a high degree of cynicism peppered with a dash of sadism. If the government already knows that the current strategy will not work, then why pursue it? Why not bring in prescription now?

        • McFlock

          So you substituted smoking for the glee of ostracising and marginalising fellow citizens? I think I’ll avoid that trade. 

  2. Campbell Larsen 2

    It does seem like the Govt’s strategy:

    1. Enables the tobacco companies to continue to continue to profit for as long as the market finds buyers at a given price
    2. Generates maximum revenue for the Govt (irrespective of declining #’s of smokers) through taxation hikes.

    Policy that achieves these kinds of ‘outcomes’ are not a surprise coming from the Nats – but if we really want to cut smoking rates and uptake we should look beyond price incentives.

    Much more money on stop smoking programs would be a start – and eventually a move to illegal to sell commercially but legal to grow for personal use – take the profit out of tobacco, because its not just the tobacco companies that are hooked on this easy money – its the Govt too.

    • Uturn 2.1

      I’d agree, as with Just Saying in the next comment. Take it out of the market, and allow users to choose to grow their own.

      • Vicky32 2.1.1

        Take it out of the market, and allow users to choose to grow their own.

        You know what happened to Marie Antoinette * for saying something similar? Not everyone is physically or financially capable of growing stuff. So, please, don’t be so unrealistic. 
        * Except of course that it wasn’t her who said it…

        • Uturn

          You telling me you will die of starvation if you don’t smoke? Smoking is considerably more expensive than cake and not even a food. Get it off a grower friend? Pick a new habit/addiction? Learn to grow? Be realistic. You won’t die.

          Look, my comments here are opinions, if they sway anyone, too bad for them. You won’t find me changing any laws anytime soon. I don’t care if you light up next to me. My habit is I like to think and talk. Cheaper than smoking, won’t give me cancer and eases anxiety – unless thinking is connected to brain tumours?

          Generally, my opinion is that governments shouldn’t be leading a mindset that says it’s ok to make money off people smoking, while wailing about the costs, social or otherwise. You could include alcohol in that concept too. A free market with mass productive capability supplying people who neither want to know the facts or are offered them, are then manipulated for profit: that is pretty much the problem with capitalist anything. I don’t support that.

          In my unrealistic world, a grower would do as he pleased as long as he did not advertise outside of word of mouth or a growers name or sell his product if he chose to supply. There would literally be little or no money in it for corporates to bother. If he got caught selling, his land would be cleared, stock removed, seeds taken and burnt and that’s that. No fines, no jail time. Who would benefit from fines – only the false concern of capitalism that says everything can be reduced to or alleviated by assigning a subjective monetary value or financial penalty (incarceration). No need to get stupidly punitive about it at all.

          The punishment is also a statement: Growing anything uses resources and time. This is the value in production, not flashy sexy advertisements and imagined appeal. Get caught selling, you lose a season and your personal stash too. Next season there would be nothing to stop him growing again, as long as he didn’t get caught selling. This law of course wouldn’t happen in isolation, being a small part of a larger change of policy attitude that would have the government uphold good health and scientific knowledge, regardless of what any particular individual wanted, and was free, to do. What a change, to have government propagate social good, return constructive freedoms to the people and be backed up by science, instead of shrugging it’s shoulders and making a buck instead. In my unrealistic world, of course.

          If a person wants to believe they will die without nicotine, nothing much anyone can do about that. If popping some seeds in the ground is too difficult, what can you do. It’s the profiting off destructive activites; giving people an official, easy and destructive out to avoid looking for solutions to their problems; that is a step too far for my unrealistic dreamworld.

  3. just saying 3

    I completely agree Bill.
    I cringed at the cruelty the price-hike will inflict on many very vulnerable people. If I didn’t have a whole lot of my own home-grown tobacco curing in the basement, I’d be feeling very anxious right now.

    I agree with your strategy for phasing out tobacco. Like many smokers, I support prohibition on tobacco sales as long as current smokers who choose to continue are catered for. Not everyone is able to grow it themselves. I would never want anyone new to get hooked on the stuff. I regret that it was freely available for many of my younger whanau when they started.

    I understand that the governement was already making a net profit on the tax on tobacco before the latest series of price hikes, with the extra health costs caused by smoking, offset by shorter lifespans, taken into account.

    We’re a dying breed Bill.

  4. Kotahi Tane Huna 4

    “There is no high with tobacco”.

    The ‘reward’ is that it speeds up the synaptic response.

    • Reagan Cline 4.1

      The downside is the tar and particles.

      Destroy lung tissue, turning the normal small airspaces into big, less effective ones (emphysema) and raising lung blood pressure leading to strain of the right side of the heart (pulmonary hypertension).

      Also, stimulates the air passages in the lung to produce more mucus and wipes out the ciliated cells that clear it out leading to infection, inflammation, hacking morning coughs (chronic bronchitis)

      Finally, damages DNA in the lung epthelial cells leading to lung cancer. And the cancer causing chemicals get in to the blood stream and then into urine causing bladder cancer, and into other organs, hence the link between smoking and cancers of cervix, pancreaticobiliary system etc.

      I doubt the tax on tobacco and tobacco company profits covers the expense of treatin these diseases.

      Smoking costs everyone.

      But if it keeps mum happy, why worry ?

      • just saying 4.1.1

        “I doubt the tax on tobacco and tobacco company profits covers the expense of treatin these diseases.”

        Actually it more than does. When the reduced health costs from shorter life-spans are taken into consideration, we’ve more than paid for our folly.

        Thanks for the reminder about the health effects though, in a thread like this it’s good that we don’t just skim over less palatable facts. As far as I’m aware, smoking is a risk factor in almost all diseases.

  5. McFlock 5

    On the aside, quite a bit of work has been done into the effects of general air pollution, and in fact particulate levels are a local govt monitoring requirement. The total seems to be in the same ballpark as smoking, but not quite as much for exposure levels five times as great (assuming 20% smokers and 100% exposure to air pollution).


  6. Uturn 6

    One aspect of smoking tobacco you almost touch on with the comment of “no high” is that tobacco was and is still used to ease anxiety. No high is the pay-off, when your greatest fear is the strung out nerves of panic. The catch, of course, is that it was never supposed to be used as frequently as a couple of packs a day, or be attached to fashion. The addictive qualities of tabacco used at modern day levels grossly out balance the initial ‘herbal” benefits. Use to much of it and it recreates the very symtoms you are trying to treat. You have to ask yourself, if you are aware of it, why am I so strung out all the time, and then make wider changes. After addiction sets in, the job becomes difficult. Changes aren’t always immediately possible, from a disempowered position, so the vicious circle continues.

    In the case of the world wars there is annecdotal evidence that use for the panic/anxiety symptom was normal; also simply trying to block out the stench of rotting corpses; and also perhaps the mentality of the age, where military discipline unified all behaviours without question. It could be suggested then that it’s not so surprising that those living a stressful life would be more likely to use. But once you see people having a smoke with a cup of coffee, you have to ask yourself, “Do they understand what they’re doing?”.

    Alternatives away from tabacco could include natural options, such as Kava, if the issue is on-going anxiety/stress, but a program may also require parallel treatment for the existing addiction to nicotine, and require a perspective of personal awareness, depending on the person. People cannot stay in stressful situations indefinitely, without assistance, so environmental issues need to be considered.

    I’ve always been a bit unimpressed by stop smoking campaigns. They seem to be focussed on the wrong symptoms, or ignore that the triggers exist, or maybe don’t even know they exist. Depending on who you are, and the blend, tabacco does smell good, so saying it stinks is silly. Pointing out long term health issues to people who can’t cope with short term triggers is also ineffective. There’s one ad up the road on a bus shelter that has an All Black asking who said smoking was cool? Well, duh, society did, for like, the last 100 years! It glorified it with sexy models, and men riding tough on horseback, and sunbathing on yachts or racing cars or famous sporting heroes and in war films; and then there was your grandad in photos smoking with his war buddies and your dad came back from Korea or wherever smoking; and you love your Dad don’t you? Don’t you want to be like your Dad and uncle? The ad’s ignore personal psychology and wider cultural influence and rely on the same unstable system of peer pressure and drifting pop culture that led people into fashionable smoking in the first place.

    When society finally accepts that popular use does not downgrade a drug with a specific use to a harmless snackfood, we’ll be getting somewhere. When society finally accepts that just because you can sell it, it doesn’t mean you should sell it, we’ll be getting somewhere.

    Putting up prices will stop people smoking tobacco, eventually, but it won’t stop the motivations to find solutions to personal and environmental issues people either can’t overcome themselves or don’t realise they have and the current trend of bumping up the price or shocking with pictures of cancerous gums is just plain cowardice at one level and purposely destructive on the other.

    • McFlock 6.1

      I enjoy the ritual of smoking.
      It is not a way of reducing anxiety for me, it is merely an enjoyable activity.

      I’m not in the demographic for the smoking ads, but they seem designed to ostracize youth smokers. The problem with that is that it makes the teen smoker the “other” – the first fifteen stop smoking, but the antisocial kid uses smoking as a badge of exceptionalism.

      In addition to making the ads less stupid, I’d probably want to look at the nicotine/acidity/ammonia levels in cigarettes to make them less addictive. ISTR nicotine levels are regulated, but the manufacturers simply adjusted other chemicals so the nicotine was absorbed more quickly.

      • Bill 6.1.1

        So, as a smoker, would you have any objection to picking up high quality ‘unadjusted’ product on prescription on a regular (say once a week ) basis?

        And no anti-smoking ads (they only tended to act as a trigger for me when I was trying to stop anyway)…just the option of taking engaging yourself in any ‘stop smoking’ regime…patches, gum, councelling or whatever that was on offer if and when you decided to pursue it.

        • McFlock

          I probably would object. 
          For me the issue is that smoking is right on the border between a population perspective and personal choice. Very few if any side effects of smoking can, in an individual case, be confirmed to be the product of an average smoker’s tobacco use (as opposed to their obesity, working in a hazardous industry or simple air pollution). And then there’s the fact that all tobacco products are judged as harmful as tailormades – that’s like taxing meat at 900% because takeaway burgers are unhealthy.
          If smoking were to stabilise at 15-20%, with moderate use being the norm rather than 60/day, who gives a shit? The real issue is the disparities within the population, e.g. Maori at a rate of ~45% prevalence in high use.
          The other thing that irks me is that ASH get millions of dollars per year to “denormalise” smoking – i.e. encourage society to ostracize and harass smokers. Anti-smokers also seem to be as liberal with the truth as tobacco companies ever were – cf: the comment about smokers costing more to treat than they pay in tax. Open air smoking has a homeopathic concentration and risk.
          Basically people want me banned from parks because I smell. Fuck ’em – if I can’t force hippies to bathe, they shouldn’t be allowed to stop me smoking.

          • higherstandard

            ‘Very few if any side effects of smoking can, in an individual case, be confirmed to be the product of an average smoker’s tobacco use (as opposed to their obesity, working in a hazardous industry or simple air pollution). ‘

            I’ll think you’ll find that smoking is an independent risk factor for quite a few serious medical conditions, you’re quite right though that passive smoking in the open air environment is very low risk ……… and I find it very difficult to argue with your hippie analogy.

            • McFlock

              I agree that smoking is an independent risk factor in a number of conditions, but almost all of those conditions have other significant causes so in individual cases the harm causes by smoking might equally have been caused by other lifestyle or genetic factors (lung cancer and I believe emphysema being the ones where the balance of probability seriously falls towards smoking in individual cases). Most other public health programmes concentrate on situations where there is a clear link between cause and effect even in individual cases, e.g. asbestos, drink-driving, food poisoning, and vaccination (dare I bring that one up again 🙂 ).
              I think it’s a big step to legislate individual behaviours on a public health basis regardless of individual choice –  obesity being the next target. I don’t have an issue with information distribution, free treatment (hell, I reckon all medical should be 100% taxpayer funded anyway) and genuine encouragement (as opposed to bullying and ostracism we have at the moment), but punitive measures “for the health of the nation” strike an ookey note with me.

  7. Lanthanide 7

    “My understanding is that this was the policy used to combat opium use. Registered users were committed to imbibe in registered opium dens and opium use dropped substantially in subsequent years.”

    There’s actually a big difference in what you’re proposing here. You say that opium users had to go to a den in order to imbibe. Lets say people used opium 2 or 3 times a week – they’d have to make a special effort to go out to get this high they’re seeking, in presumably unglamorous surroundings during their high.

    Compare that to cigarettes: you have to go to some shabby ‘dispensary’ to collect your cigarettes once a week. You might spend maybe 30 minutes tops at the actual place if there’s a long queue etc. But once you’ve done your weekly pickup, you’re done with it and can smoke your cigarettes 7 days x 24 hours until your next pickup.

    I don’t see much difference between what you propose and what happens now: people buy cigarettes with their weekly shopping trip and smoke them for the rest of the week. Sure, if people run out at the moment they can easily go and buy more at a supermarket or dairy (if they have the $$$), whereas under your regime they won’t be able to do that, so there is some inconvenience. Then we start having people stockpiling cigarettes, and people who have quit or significantly cut back on their consumption will continue to claim them from the dispensary and then on-sell them to others who need more than the government will provide. Bingo, black market of the type you said ‘won’t happen’.

    • Bill 7.1

      The difference is that financially precarious people wouldn’t be getting penalised for having an addiction to a substance that was gleefully promoted for decades. If methadone can be distributed as a prescription drug, then why not nicotine (as tobacco) through a non-shabby outlet?

      As far as the black market goes, there has been a black market in tobacco in NZ for at least the past 10 years. Putting prices up will only increase the size of that market and lead to all types of social costs beng incurred as authorities attempt to stamp it out. (Jail time for growers/sellers, cost of detection/enforcement agencies etc)

      If tobacco was on prescription and I was receiving 50g a week (or whatever) – there would be no incentive to either under or over report my consumption at the time of registration – why would I stockpile any in the event I stopped smoking? Who would I sell it on to? New smokers arise because tobacco is readily available…which it wouldn’t be if it was a prescription only drug. And smokers tend to smoke tobacco at a constant rate…it doesn’t increase over time as a result of any ‘chasing the dragon’ effect.

  8. Pete 8

    Bill, I’m not sure if there have been any studies done but during the 80’s I went on a school field trip to a set of lungs during which one of the things they showed us were 4 sets of lungs, A country non smoker and non smoker and a City (Auckland) smoker and non smoker.

    The Country non smoker’s lungs appeared light greyish,
    The Country smoker’s lung mid-dark grey
    The City non smokers lungs appears about the same tone as the country Smoker’s lungs
    The City Smokers lungs were very dark grey/black.

  9. Te Reo Putake 9

    Bill, just a small point. I have a neighbour who grows tobacco under lights and, I presume, sells the results. The first part isn’t illegal, but the selling is. The black market for tobacco already exists, due to price.
    I also disagree with you regarding a tobacco high. Tobacco does have a hit, and the many chemical additives in cigarettes add to the ‘pleasure’. However, long term use leads to needing that hit not to get high, as in other drugs, but to get ‘normal’. That is, to sate the craving and return the metabolic system to a balanced state for a short period. Or, to put it another way, smoking merely abates the cravings that come from being addicted.
    As an aside, I’ve always found it weird that tobacco, an addictive substance, is legal, while the plant associated with Bob Marley*, which is not addictive, is banned. Funny old world, I suppose.
    * I have to write referring to his Bobness because the spam filter at work doesn’t like the other names for it! Or the Totaliser Agency Board, dammit!

  10. Olwyn 10

    As with the wartime growth in smoking, it probably trumped the rum ration in terms of reliability. The same stress relief and increase of resolve minus the drunkenness.

    The present hysteria about tobacco seems to pertain to its being one of the allotted areas in which “progressives” are permitted to feel they are making progress without rocking the boat. A real concern about health would treat housing and living wages with even greater urgency, but this unfortunately would be to rock the boat. In the Herald last month, there was an intriguing piece about plain packaging: according to one set of international agreements this might be in conflict with rules to do with intellectual property rights, but consistent with another set of agreements by which we must do what we can to limit smoking.


    It is not about us, it seems, but about the various international agreements to which we are signatories. The Europeans appear to sign up, put up No Smoking signs and puff away as before, but we in NZ are a bit more earnest, and want a star on our book. As I see it, big tobacco and the anti-tobacco lobby are two sides of the same coin.

  11. higherstandard 11

    Here you go Bill.


    I’m sure there’s more if you google something along the lines of rural smokers vs urban non-smokers

  12. DH 12

    Hear hear Bill. This recent article in the ‘paper says a lot….

    “Addiction makes smokers easy game for tax hike – Treasury”


    Turia might think raising the tax is about cutting smoking, the disgusting beancounters sure don’t. They tax smokers because they’re an easy mark; exploitable.

    I detest the dishonesty over smoking. If they really did want people to quit then the answer is the same as it’s always been. Ban the sale of tobacco. Most smokers would support it.

    • Vicky32 12.1

      Most smokers would support it.

      Because of having been guilt-tripped! Well, not me. I have enough to feel guilty about without worrying about smoking, which is not wrong.

      • DH 12.1.1

        Nah. I’m a smoker too and there’s a lot of us ready to give up but need the stimulus. It’s my only major vice & I earn enough for the price not to bother me but to be honest a large part of smoking is a big “fuck you” to all the sanctimonious twats who bleat about smoking. I prefer smokers to self-centred narcissists and I really resent the lies & bullshit the anti-smoking mob come out with.

        I’m with Bill – ban on the sales so no-one can take it up and a scrip for those who want to keep smoking. If we had an honest vote on it & it was banned it wouldn’t bother me, I’d just quit if I couldn’t pop down the shops for a pack.

  13. vto 13

    Well all this just goes to show that you just can’t trust a bunch of humans who organise themselves into a bossy group called government.

    They just keep changing their minds depending on the political whims of the day or the particular level of ignorance dealt.

  14. Augustus 14

    Prescription is the only way to go, Bill. I don’t smoke (wife does), but I am appalled at the price “incentive’ policy. It literally takes the bread of some families’ table. No-one would ever admit it, for danger of being used as a Bennett poster-person, but the best will in the world can’t always defeat an addiction. The assault on self-esteem involved might make some people stop and do as they are told, for others that assault is part of the problem (no-one tells me what to do with my own body).
    I sympathise with the latter notion and believe that “price incentives” are the tool of the elite, who will never be affected personally. Incentive is such a nice, positive word, a real Nat favourite, too. There is every incentive in the world to become a rich white guy wearing suits, but just not all of us can muster it.

  15. JJW 15

    Basically your argument boils down to: “I smoke, so therefore FREEDOOOOOOOM WARGHARBL.”

    But seriously, the approach you suggest is not evidence-based… not even remotely. Price is the most effective way to drive down consumption. When the tax garnered from the sale of said products is ring-fenced to fund widely available cessation programmes and treatment along with evidence-based education is added to that equation you have a pretty robust system where people live longer happier lives free from addiction. Taking price rises out of the wider context of changing attitudes toward smoking and supporting people to quit (and giving them the freedom to choose to quit — it is an addiction) plays right into Big Tobacco’s hands.

    For more on this subject: http://joshuadrummond.com/2012/05/21/application-for-the-job-of-press-relations-and-regulatory-affairs-manager-at-british-american-tobacco-nz/

    • vto 15.1

      “Price is the most effective way to drive down consumption. ”

      Wrong. There is another near identical way to drive down consumption with equal or greater effect – a smack on the head with a block of wood.

      • risildo 15.1.1

        You joke?
        I got that treatment to make the gay go out me @ age 15

        Pinch myself

        No I am still gay


    • DH 15.2

      Total bullshit. Prohibition is overwhelmingly the most effective means of driving down consumption.

      • Populuxe1 15.2.1

        LOLwhut? 😀 history would beg to disagree. 1920s Chicago. Reefer Madness. etc etc. Even if it did drive down consumption it would only create a criminal-run black market (cf: Mary Jane)

      • Mike 15.2.2

        Hahahaha.. Prohibition of anything has never worked in the history of human civilization. All prohibition does is create an easy revenue stream for organised crime. You only have to look at the trillion dollar completely failed ‘war on drugs’ to see how ineffective prohibition is. If human beings want to smoke, eat, snort, swallow a substance then they will; and in my opinion should be allowed to as long as they aren’t causing loss or harm to anyone else. The fact that something is prohibited simply makes it more attractive and more expensive.

        If prices rise in such dramatic increases we will see a huge increase in people growing tobacco. (I have a thousand seeds myself stashed away). It has a 90 something % germination rate and needs virtually no care and attention or watering, etc. Anyone can grow it simply by chucking the seeds in some soil and letting them do there thing.

        The only sensible way I can see is as the article author has proposed through prescriptions for current registered smokers with no new prescriptions being made available. If tobacco is prescription only then there would be virtually zero new users coming up through the ranks and virtually no smokers at all after a few generations.

        Of course taxes would go up in some way, shape or form to recover the lost billions in taxes paid by smokers currently.

        Without wanting to bring up an often used, worn old argument; I’m going to. The drug alcohol is responsible for far more damage to society (health costs, social costs from domestic violence and other violence, drunk driving deaths and accidents, etc, etc, etc) than tobacco use or any other prohibited drug use ever will be. Getting rid of alcohol use would be far more beneficial to society. Of course a much higher proportion of the population views alcohol usage as somehow ‘normal’ or ‘acceptable’ drug use.

    • Bill 15.3

      If a substance is banned then its price becomes irrelavent due to it’s complete inaccessability. Where other attempts at prohibition fail (eg opiates) it’s due to reasons outlined in the post. And, as outlined in the post, those same dynamics do not apply to tobacco if it is made available as a prescription only drug.

      And since tobacco grows quite readily in New Zealand, there is no reason whatsoever why tobacco companies shouldn’t be completely excluded from both the growing and distribution aspects of any programme such as outlined in the post. The government through a state owned enterprise or whatever could execute the growing side of the tobacco as well as (obviously) the distribution side.

      My argument isn’t about individual freedom at all…at least, not in a Randian sense. It’s about approaching a process for the eventual elimination of tobacco from a sensible perspective that will work rather than from a stupid and cruel perspective that will fail.

      • JJW 15.3.1

        What could be more “stupid and cruel” than watching your loved ones die?

        • McFlock

          Not letting them decide for themselves.
          And really, that scenario is a 50/50 chance based on the higher average tobacco use per smoker 15 years ago.

          • Tangled up in blue

            Not letting them decide for themselves.

            Given that nicotine is “highly addictive”; do you not think this influences peoples ‘choice’ to smoke or not smoke?

            • McFlock

              Indeed I do. But I like to smoke. And the only reason tobacco is quite so addictive is because capitalism provided a motivation to make it that way – Native Americans seemed able to use it in moderation, not 3 packs a day. 
              ISTR a quote from James 1 of England talking about how horrible tobacco was as a habit. Juxtapose that with the emergence of lung cancer really only in the 20th century. Then juxtapose both of those with the fact that 50% of smokers drop off in our late 50s, early 60s – more than young enough for lung cancer to have been common in the preceding 300 years.
              My point is that something happened to dramatically change the quantity and prevalence of tobacco consumption in the 20C, and the fact is that the plant itself barely changed.
              My belief is that it was industrial capitalism that created the change, turning tobacco from a pasttime into a drug delivery system. Punishing tobacco users is merely cutting off your hand to treat a symptom, not curing the disease.

              • mike e

                mcflock the average age people died just over a century ago was forty so mst people weren.t around to die of cancer.
                Every addict has a thousand excuses!

              • Huginn

                @ McFlock …28 May 2012 at 6:16 pm

                Spot on –

                here’s Dr Richard Hurt of the Mayo Clinic telling Kim Hill how the tobacco industry re-engineered the simple cigarette into something much more dangerous than simple rolled tobacco.

                He also argues that nicotine isn’t the problem as much as the delivery device which delivers extremely dangerous chemicals into vulnerable lung tissue.

                The electric cigarettes that deliver nicotine but no smoke (except for a little puff of steam) are far less dangerous than cigarettes and are especially attractive to nicotine addicted shit-stirrers who bring them out in al sorts of naughty, boundary-pushing places.

                Finally, Hurt, who used to smoke himself, argues that nicotine addiction is very complicated because addicts’ responses to addiction are genetically predetermined. So raising the price and telling an addict to ‘pull yourself together’ is not going to work and is downright cruel with people who are already struggling. He says there are lots of ways to deal with it and one size definitely doesn’t fit all.


              • Roy

                Lung cancer did not only emerge in the 20th century. It was only the first half of the 20th century that the medical profession became capable of distinguishing lung cancer from tuberculosis. Prior to that, if you died coughing up blood and were found on autopsy to have lungs riddled with masses, it was concluded that you had died of tuberculosis. The ’emergence’ of lung cancer was due to the ability to diagnose it correctly, combined with the decline in the prevalence of tuberculosis.

    • Vicky32 15.4

      But seriously, the approach you suggest is not evidence-based… not even remotely. Price is the most effective way to drive down consumption.

      Missing the point much? You come across as a bit of self-centred elitist, there, friend…

  16. Carol 16

    Smoking was originally the past-time of the upper classes. In the early 20th century, smoking was glamourised (especially in Hollywood movies where it often work as a code for sex). It was seen as the marker of a liberated urbane person leading an exciting life.

    Then the middleclasses learned of the ill affects of smoking, and began to re-image it as dangerous – although that made it attractive to the young, the rebellious and the working classes opposed to middleclass dominance.

    The tobacco industry responded to the re-imaging by targeting the marginalised and the poor – nationally and internationally.

    I can see why Turia is so strongly opposed, because it does contribute to shorter lives of Maori. But I also agree with the people above who show that the government’s response is to just use the issue to raise more revenue for themselves and the tobacco companies. They are not serious about reducing use.

    • higherstandard 16.1

      “…..people above who show that the government’s response is to just use the issue to raise more revenue for themselves and the tobacco companies. They are not serious about reducing use.”

      I think that is a little unfair on both this and previous governments who have slowly but surely tightened the screws on advertising and marketing of tobacco, increased the provision of aids and advice for smoking cessation and legislated where one cannot smoke.

      • Bill 16.1.1

        If advertising was banned completely, would there be an absence of new smokers? No. There might be fewer, but there would still be people taking up the habit.

        If marketing was banned, would that signal an end to tobacco smoking? No, there would be a burgeoning black market.

        If smoking was banned in all public spaces or even criminalised would that end all instances of smoking? No, because just like other illegal substances, people would consume discreetly.

        And if every smoker was freely offered any of all the quit programmes, would that end smoking? No, because even where they might help a person quit in the short term, they would still be able to access tobacco in the medium and long term either through legitimate outlets or on a black market.

        Even putting all the above measures together, which covers the present scenario and then some, would the end result be no smokers? No, because there would be a black market.

        But what if the marketing is banned and the advertising is banned, quit programmes are freely available and a prescription regime is rolled out?

        • McFlock

          The world would be more boring.

        • higherstandard

          Bill I was replying to the statement that governments in NZ have only been interested in revenue for them selves and tobacco companies which I thought was an unfair comment.

          In relation to making cigarettes and other inhalational products containing nicotine prescription only that would decrease smoking further.

          I’d need to think about it further but perhaps making the products restricted medicines meaning that they would only be available from pharmacy would be a better interim step – although I expect the pharmacists wouldn’t be particularly keen.

        • Colonial Viper

          ALL advertising of EVERYTHING should be in black and white, still shots only, and be voiced over in slowly spoken, clear Queens English. And Te Reo.

      • Mike 16.1.2

        Really?? I don’t think it’s unfair at all. In fact I would say that if you thought government (as a whole, not individuals) gave a flying rat’s arse about your health other than it’s cost in terms of tax funded healthcare then you would be naive to say the least. If that were not the case and the health of citizens was more important than money then if smoking cost more than it provided by way of taxes, it would be completely banned tomorrow. After all, government tells us that smoking tobacco kills, which is proven, yet they willingly allow this product to be sold and willingly collect tax from it’s sale. I can’t think of any other product apart from maybe alcohol which they wouldn’t ban completely.

        Government, as is easily shown by much of its policy direction and new statutes, rules and regulations over the last half century, prioritizes profit above people. Just as the highest ethical value of a corporation is profit, so it is now with government, who dances to the tune of its corporate owners, with the word revenue rather than profit.

  17. LoveIT 17

    As I read somewhere else, it is my right to smoke.

  18. risildo 18

    As a smoker I enjoy it.
    I am sick that being told I cannot have a smoke.
    I have tried patches gum..all to no avail bought from chemist and countdown
    I was considering spending vast amount of $ for the Champix as I am do not to fit into the subsidized promotion currently running UNTIL I was told by people I know who are on it that they had the most horrific side effects.I think I will pass on that stuff
    Research shows that it is//was used as a anti depressant?

    The amount of taxes I pay through purchase of tobacco is going up and they intend to make NZ smoke free
    Good luck with that
    .It will drive it into a bigger black market than is currently running
    There is already underground market in most towns in NZ selling home grown baccy.
    I intend to use it
    Trademe is full of sellers selling tobacco seeds so I will learn to grow my own..
    All the information is available on the internet re growing curing and everything else

    But do not be surprised if the sellers to be closed on Trademe…Get in qiuckly 🙂

    It is my life. everyone dies of something

    • just saying 18.1

      I’ve got thousands and thousands of seeds.
      Tobacco plants are very prolific producers. Trade-me isn’t going to run out any time soon.
      If it did, I’d be happy to post them to smokers for free.

      • McFlock 18.1.1

        got any rustica, or is it all nicotiana tabacum?

        • just saying

          Virginnia. Never got the botanical name.
          It’s very mild, but I’m told that it is the lack of chemicals that makes it so.
          Happy to send you some, but I’m very aware of privacy issues. You haven’t got a PO box or summit?

          Btw I had a couple of plants that survived two five day periods of living in a foot of snow last winter- though they looked like they’d died for a while. Very hardy plants.

          • McFlock

            Virginia tobacco is nicotiana tabacum. Other smoker’s (okay, pipes and cigars and strong cigarette blends) plants are nicotiana brazilia and rustica. 
            Made a hobby of it years ago, but I’m probably looking to start up again.
            Mind you, I never got the hang of curing it to suit my taste – but the trial and error is what makes it a hobby, right? 🙂 

            • just saying

              Yeah, you’d probably find it a bit mild. However, you could mix it with some extra-strong commercial baccy!
              Fun hobby.

            • felix

              I’ve never really figured out a good way to chop it up, but I’ve heard you can buy a machine for this purpose.

              What method do you recommend? Particularly keen on tools that don’t require electricity.

              • just saying

                I use a blender, but yes there are such machines, though not originally designed for tobacco. Available, I believe, at the usual outlets.
                Purists swear by them, but (if you don’t mind a wee bit of electricity) blenders are quick and effective and allow for adding honey or whisky etc.

              • McFlock

                I’ve been pondering that in the back of my mind for a while.
                What about pressing it into bricks for a while and then slicing those? Might work for the stuff in the middle.

      • Bill 18.1.2

        At McFlock, just saying and felix.

        Couple of questions if you’re around.

        On the cutting. Is there any reason not to cut the tobacco in the fashion of stir fried cabbage when it’s still fresh (or fresh-ish) and allow the natural shrinkage to give you a ‘fine cut’ final product? My understanding is that a certain degree of fermentation is desired during the curing phase and that mould has to be avoided at all costs…which is why leaves are bundled, sprayed and ‘turned’ so that the outside leaves migrate towards the center of the bundle and the center leaves to the outside.

        So. If the fresh (or ‘greenish’) leaves are shredded and then simply turned over on a regular basis, would that increase the probability of mould and would it allow fermentation to occur? And regardless of whether leaves are ‘pre-shredded’ or not, how long should tobacco sit before being smoked? I’ve read wildly varying accounts ranging from a year or two down to ‘whenever’.

        Second question(s). I’ve got two plants here for experimental purposes. How difficult is it to ‘over winter’ them? And is the estimate of between 50 -100 cigarettes per plant accurate? (Seems awfully low to me, given the initial plant size.)

        Any opinions or knowledge appreciated 🙂

        • McFlock

          The questions are well beyond me – but provide much food for thought and experimentation 🙂
          As for growing the plant, I never had any difficulty in Dunedin, with no special methods. I’m very much a “bung in garden, hope they grow” style gardener. With lapses in remembering to water.
          My understanding is that the thing about storing tobacco is the humidity – to moist and it decays, too dry and it desiccates. Other than that, it’s basically not far removed from paper.  

        • just saying

          I’m no expert, I’ve only been growing tobacco for two years. I live in a bit of a weird microclimate because of the altitude up here. I’m still finding my way, and I suspect everyone has to fine-tune to particular local conditions. My plants are only about three-feet tall at maturity, yet virginnia, even in other parts of this town are more like 6-8ft. But then, I didn’t pull off the laterals which made them more bush-like in form

          How difficult is it to ‘over winter’ them? And is the estimate of between 50 -100 cigarettes per plant accurate? (Seems awfully low to me, given the initial plant size.)

          If you keep them inside, and they haven’t flowered, they stay dormant over winter, and start growing again in late spring. Outside, they seriously don’t like snow or heavy frost, but just looking out the window at the plants in the vege garden, they’ve had a few frosts, yet they have grown large, harvestable leaves since I stripped them of big leaves about three weeks ago. If you have a sheltered spot they should be fine. Extreme weather will knock them badly, if not kill them.

          50 – 100 is probably about my 3ft per-plant-yield. Yet virginna should yield a lot more than that. I’ve heard 8 plants should provide an average year’s supply.

          Your shredding idea sounds like there would be a danger of composting the leaves. I hang them and if the outer edges of leaves look a bit dry, I spray them with water. Three months is okay (if a bit bland), but I’ll keep the bulk for a full year which is supposed to be plently long enough for a ‘superior’ result. Gourmet-quality results may require years. I look forward to playing around with different techniques.

          Hope this helps. Let us know how you get on.

  19. Vicky32 19

    it is the more financially precarious who tend to smoke. Many say it is their only pleasure.

    Absolutely true and true of me! (Though I am not thrilled to admit it). Given that I have suffered through 6 months of misdiagnosis thanks to my GP getting aereated about my being a smoker, no health professional – not even my own son – can convince me to quit.
    If she hadn’t assumed that I must have had a TIA because I am a smoker – and she did assume that, then I would have had the real problem diagnosed by now – as it is, I am still waiting.
    As for vehicle emissions, yeah! I walk along Carrington Road, and breathe in the fog from construction lorries and what I believe are called ‘B-Doubles’, and I cough and retch. I go to Taita, in the Hutt Valley and stay with my friend, in a street which is lucky to see 1 car in a day, and I can smoke without coughing at all! Go figure…
    400 people a year are estimated to fall of their perch every year in Auckland, due to vehicle emissions.

    • BM 19.1

      How can you be on a benefit and afford to smoke?

      • terryg 19.1.1

        by budgetting?

        but I get your point. beneficiaries shouldnt be allowed to “waste” money on smokes. or booze. or lotto tickets. or mallowpuffs (either interpretation). or vogels bread. fuck ’em – stale bread and stagnant water is all they deserve, with a clip ’round the ears for being so lazy yet daring to have a life. we should probably add weekly drug tests and random searches of their homes looking for “contraband” – toffee pops? TOFFEE POPS! HOW DARE YOU! I PAY TAX** SO I GET TO CONTROL EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE, BENNIE SCUM.

        ** well not really, my team of lawyers & accountants ensure I dont actually pay tax. but im rich, so therefore superior and hence entitled.

        /withering sarcasm

        reminds me of a comedian I saw in Boston once, who did a joke along these lines:

        as I walked down the street the other day, I saw a panhandler with a sign that said “need money for food”. I had $20 in my pocket, and I thought “yeah right, you’re just gonna spend it on drugs and alcohol”.

        Then I thought “hang on a minute, I am going to spend it on drugs and alcohol, so I gave him the $20”

        I think there’s a lesson in there somewhere

    • terryg 19.2

      among a litany of other issues, smoking significantly increases recovery (healing) time after medical procedures – ISTR by a factor of 2 or so.

      but so what – you’re an adult and can make your own decisions. And you get to live with the results, as do we all.

      I used to be vehemently anti-smoking. Then the law changed to give us smoke-free workplaces/pubs/restaurants etc. not long after which I stopped caring about people smoking, as I no longer faced the choice between going out and avoiding the resultant fug.

      nowadays smokers piss me off once more, but thats because I’m watching my wife die of breast cancer – every time I see patients smoking in front of the hospital I cant help but think “die faster, fools”. but thats just redirected anger/frustration.

      I’d like to see it banned from sale but decriminalised. if you want it, grow it, as others have said. but take the profit away from Big Tobacco, they are quite literally merchants of death.

      • just saying 19.2.1

        Very sorry to hear that TerryG, and a quite understandable reaction, under the circumstances, to smokers in front of the hospital.

        • terryg

          Thanks, JS. On the bright side, the experience is making me a better person.

          there are 3 main techniques to give oneself cancer:
          1. smoking
          2. sunburn
          3. breathing

          of these, 1 & 2 are the only ones we have control over. alas #2 all too often occurs when we are kids, and of course #1 is astonishingly addictive (heroin is for wimps).

          avoiding #3 is absolutely guaranteed to prevent cancer, and it only takes about 4 minutes. Alas side effects include being dead.

          I hate the smell of cigarette smoke. almost as much as i hate the taste of beetroot. this is why I think smoking beetroot must immediately be banned.

          • Colonial Viper

            Preserved and smoked meats containing nitrates is a good one. Everything from bowel cancer to pancreatic cancer to leukemia gets a nice bump up.

  20. fatty 20

    Did smoking rates in NZ go down at the same time that our obesity rates went up?

    …Not to say they are linked, but has NZ swapped one deadly disease for another?
    And the Maori Party are so busy taxing smokers…when are they gonna start taxing fatties?
    Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia might not smoke, but they might wanna try some boiled broccoli and a treadmill if they are so concerned with health. At least a skinny smoker looks cool…I never seen an fatty look attractive as they hog on a hamburger. And don’t get me started on the drunken dick-wads.

    So why smokers, and not fatties and drunks? This smoking stigma is Foucault’s bio-power in action, its hyper-nanny state and a coercive push towards ideal health based on what will stimulate the market…the market always comes first.
    Ciggies offer next to nothing to our economy, outside of tax revenue they create few jobs beyond healthcare. Junk food and alcohol also clog up our health system and ruin the lives of many Kiwis…but they create numerous jobs outside of healthcare.

    Anti-smoking is neoliberal bio-power…its a selective combination of destroying individual rights and perpetuating individual responsibility, both of these concepts I hate. If the massive tax was also applied to junk food and alcohol, then it would becomes (slightly) more logical…if it stays as just a tax on smokers, then this kind of bio-power is nothing more than a tool for neoliberal capitalism

    • McFlock 20.1

      “Did smoking rates in NZ go down at the same time that our obesity rates went up?”
      Doubtful – as far as I recall the major hit to smoking prevalence has been only over the last 20 or 30 years, whereas sedentary life and crap foods have combined since the fifties. Wikipedia has interesting data on consumption, but that is complicated by the fact that excise increases lower the amount of tobacco consumed by each smoker. Haven’t found prevalence over time yet, but it’s late 🙂
      And of course the big issue isn’t just the national rate, but the concentration of smoking in socioeconomic custers, like Maori and the poor. And then of course BMI is a crude measure applied to different metabolisms  indiscriminately, but that’s another issue 🙂

      • fatty 20.1.1

        Just came across this…

        Don’t really have time to look into it properly, but I wonder if anyone has done a study into the link between the decrease of smokers and the rise of obesity.
        I guess its irrelevant anyway, cause the ciggie tax has nothing to do with health or the good of society…its all economics

  21. insider 21

    It’s fun seeing standardistas arguing for more personal responsibility and less govt intervention in their lives.

    • felix 21.1

      Weird, it’s as if they aren’t robots with a single identical unthinking response to every situation.

    • fatty 21.2

      “It’s fun seeing standardistas arguing for more personal responsibility and less govt intervention in their lives.”

      jesus, that’s a dumb statement

  22. Brian 22

    I hate going to the pub now – I keep coming home smelling of non smokers…

  23. Jeremy Harris 23

    This one of my favourite posts ever on The Stranded, an essentially free market post, where the poster is sick of the government dictating the terms to him of what he chooses to imbibe into his own body, and later in the thread has a conversation about how to circumvent the regulation and tax by growing his own.

    Satire gold!

    • McFlock 23.1

      Yes, because “let me go to hell in my own way” is exactly the same as “let me eat cake while children starve” or even “let me keep wage-slaves because I need a third porsche”.
      Lord save me from idiot tories.

    • Bill 23.2

      Nah Jeremy, you’re revealing yourself to be a complete moron. There is nothing ‘free market’ about the post. If you actually read the post it should be quite obvious, even to those with comprehension problems like yourself, that I’m advocating that the government ban the sale of tobacco to prevent the emergence of new users. But that they do so in conjunction with a programme that caters to the reality of addiction.

      • Jeremy Harris 23.2.1

        Bill, the most moronic that can be said is that prohibition can or will work. It can’t and this speaking as a non-smoking, non-drug using, tee-totaller who wished all substance use was non-existent but the reality is if smoking is banned people will smuggle or grow their own illegally.

        If you refer to my post below talking about the various types of behavioural free markets it is obvious that you refer to some of them numerously throughout your post.

        [okay, it’s pretty obvious you haven’t read the post. If you had, you would have seen that the emergence of any black market is countered by the suggestion contained in the post. Any further comments based on a non reading of the post or that ascribe motives or thoughts to me and you’ll be gone on a one week ban. You’ve been warned. – B.]

        • Jeremy Harris

          Ban me for what exactly, reading your comments:

          As a smoker I have no problem with the prospect of tobacco disappearing. What I do have a problem with is the stupid and cruel strategy being pursued by government. I think it’s fairly widely accepted that tobacco use is more prevalent among low socio-economic sections of society. So why punish the already financially precarious with ever rising prices?

          And thinking you were talking about yourself? Is that not a reasonable assumption to make?

          As for banning me for not accepting that your prescribed “solution” would prevent a black market from appearing, must all posts and “solutions” within them be accepted without debate?

          You yourself point out that the “solution” you propose didn’t work when tried with opium. I don’t accept your premise that opium and tobacco are different, for example tobacco does give a high, especially when first using it.

          Under your “solution” current tobacco users would grow their own or smuggle it in in order to avoid the regulation and cost involved in a heavily proscribed government programme and any excess would find it’s way onto a blackmarket creating a new generation of users.

          • DH

            If you really think cigarettes can be compared with opiates then you know nothing about either. Opiates & alcohol are mind altering, tobacco isn’t. You also get addicted to opiates very quickly. With tobacco you don’t. Prohibition didn’t work too well with booze & drugs because people wanted to get high, it’s scarcely credible that we’d end up with smokeasys full of illicit smokers. It’s not the same kind of high.

            Further to that Bill proposed that the sale of tobacco be banned, he didn’t say that smoking should be banned. Big difference there. Black markets only appear when there’s a profit to be made by the sellers, if the remaining smokers can grow their own tobacco or get it on scrip then there wouldn’t be any money to be made from black-market tobacco would there.

            The black market in tobacco will get bigger as the price of ciggies keeps going up. Banning the sale of tobacco wouldn’t bring much of a black market, would probably only be for the tourists who didn’t stock up enough.

  24. fatty 24

    “Yes, because “let me go to hell in my own way” is exactly the same as “let me eat cake while children starve” or even “let me keep wage-slaves because I need a third porsche”.”

    True McFlock…I dunno how free-market ideology relates to the freedom to smoke, its a senseless argument.
    And even if those two issues were covered in the discussion, Felix summed it up well in response to Insider’s similar statement where Insider tried to link neoliberal economics with personal liberty: “Weird, it’s as if they aren’t robots with a single identical unthinking response to every situation.”

  25. Jeremy Harris 25

    It’s because left wing nut cases seem to be able to conceive of only arguments relating to an economic free market. Seemingly they cannot comprehend of free markets applying in other facets of life; ideas, politics, substance usage, relationships, religion, etc. The overwhelming part of your life is governed by one free market or another. The majority do not involve money.

    As an example free markets fall into three (broad) behavioural categories, that can occur similtaneously:

    Social norms (relationships)
    Market transactions (money)
    Authority ranking (community and social structure)

    This argument relates to number 2 and 3. Bill does not like someone from higher in the social structure taking his money. He resents the fact that the price of his cigarettes is higher than the market price because someone higher in the social structure has determined that it is “good for him” for that to occur.

    I used the term free market in this case not as an economic term but a behavioural term.

    • fatty 25.1

      “It’s because left wing nut cases seem to be able to conceive of only arguments relating to an economic free market. Seemingly they cannot comprehend of free markets applying in other facets of life; ideas, politics, substance usage, relationships, religion, etc.”

      That’s because the “left wing nut cases” use other words within the English language to describe those concepts.
      Free market religion? WTF…are you taking the piss?
      Do you mean freedom of religion?
      What is free market substance usage? Do you mean freedom to use a substance?

      “I used the term free market in this case not as an economic term but a behavioural term.”

      Are you sure you don’t mean individual liberty…freedom to possess agency and the right to choose without coercion?

      • Jeremy Harris 25.1.1

        Freedom of religion and a free market in relgion are the same thing (essentially although I would argue that everyone has freedom of religion just not freedom of religious expression), I was however justifiying my use of the term “free market” that I initially used in my first post that I typed in haste to illustrate that there are other free market than solely economic ones.

        What is free market substance usage? Do you mean freedom to use a substance?

        In this case it would be freedom to produce, buy, sell, possess and use addictive substances. Something I don’t actually subscribe to but again was pointing out a type of (partially non-economic) free market.

        Are you sure you don’t mean individual liberty…freedom to possess agency and the right to choose without coercion?

        You could use that term but at the time of my intial comment I was thinking of how Bill was asking other commenters how to grow tobacco, a behaviour that I considered a “free market” behaviour and hence used the term.

        • McFlock

          Using common language in an unorthodox manner to claim intellectual superiority and linguistically frame the debate in an advantageous way (or even to make thoughtcrime impossible).
          Where have I seen that before?
          Oh, that’s right: a cult.

          • Jeremy Harris

            I’m not claiming intellectual superiority in any way. Merely pointing out that there are free markets other than economic ones.

            • McFlock


              I’m not claiming intellectual superiority in any way. 


              It’s because left wing nut cases seem to be able to conceive of only arguments relating to an economic free market. Seemingly they cannot comprehend of free markets applying in other facets of life; ideas, politics, substance usage, relationships, religion, etc.

              So (to clarify) you’re claiming that you have a thorough comprehension of certain socially-endemic facts and concepts that left-wing advocates do not, while in no way implying that you have an intellectual superiority over them or that you know something they do not.


              • Jeremy Harris

                So (to clarify) you’re claiming that you have a thorough comprehension of certain socially-endemic facts and concepts that left-wing advocates do not, while in no way implying that you have an intellectual superiority over them or that you know something they do not.

                I wrote the response you cite out of frustration with your below comment.

                Lord save me from idiot tories.

                Of course socialists can conceive of free markets outside of economic ones, they just often choose to ignore them because it is more fun to argue over economics and throw around comment like this:

                Yes, because “let me go to hell in my own way” is exactly the same as “let me eat cake while children starve” or even “let me keep wage-slaves because I need a third porsche”.

                Used ad inifnitum to suugest that proponents of free markets don’t care about the poor. We do and I say more than socialists do because of the evidence that economic freedom provides the poor with a higher standard of living than the opposite.

                • McFlock

                  Awwww did somebody say ages ago that you didn’t care about the poor?
                  Just to rephrase,then:
                  There is a clear difference between
                  A) discussing government responses to tobacco use as a personal choice; and
                  B) discussing whether poor people would be better off living with a welfare state or with a top tax bracket of 10%. You being oblivious to this makes you an idiot; and 
                  C) pretending that kids eating pig scraps are not an indictment on how society fails to look out for its most vulnerable.
                  Oh, and normal people provide links or citations or otherwise present the “evidence” they claim exists for something. Deluded cultists simply assert it exists as a catechism of faith. Just saying.

                  • Jeremy Harris

                    Um, you did about 2 1/2 hours ago.

                    To recap:

                    – I stated that I find this post humerous because (and I have to be careful here because I’ve been threatened with being banned) Bill appears to have taken an issue with government raising tobacco taxation (for whatever reason). The Standed generally being in favour of government intervention.
                    – At one point commentors discuessed how to cultivate tobacco, presumably at home on private property, for personal use, in the process reducing tax liabilty and government regulation in their lives.
                    – I stated that was a “free market” behaviour.
                    – I was essentially challenged that there are no such thing as free market behaviour outside of the economy.
                    – I responded.
                    – Now you’ve taken it upon yourself to argue every little point with me.

                    Oh, and normal people provide links or citations or otherwise present the “evidence” they claim exists for something. Deluded cultists simply assert it exists as a catechism of faith. Just saying.

                    Such a debate would go on for days, what you really want is for me to post a single, simple link. Which you’ll immeaditely deride as the work of “evil RWNJ’s” and I’ll describe as emperical research, a few other lefties will jump in decrying the “evils of capitalism” and the obvious “bias of the capitalists who should go live in Somalia to enjoy their free market” and it’ll all be a big waste of time. So I’ll save us the trouble, you can turn off your “generic capitalist insult generating machine™” now.

                    • McFlock

                      Your point only works if you redefine “market”.
                      And I only juxtaposed the debate here with the regular debates about tax and the welfare state – if you see yourself reflected in those phrases, methinks the indictment is from yourself.

            • Mike


              The very word market assumes an economic context. Freedom and the free market are completely different concepts.

    • Bill 25.2

      Oh dear. You don’t even understand that the logical end point of ‘free market’ ideology would see the crass monetisation of those (so-called) behavioural categories …of all human interactions (any other basis for interaction being ‘society’…that thing, the existence of which is denied by free market fundamentalists)?!

      As for telling me what I like and don’t like, that’s particularly moronic and has me wondering whether I should ban you or not.

      While I consider that, I’ll just say this. As long as I can secure access to some fairly basic material needs, I don’t really care who it is that I’m paying money to (ie, I don’t give too much of a fuck about money or social heirarchy)

      But when a government cynically and unnecessarily exploits the already financially precarious by taxing them on an addiction, in the full knowledge that such an act will jeopardise their access to other necessary material needs, then I start giving a fuck.

      • Olwyn 25.2.1

        A thought that has crossed my mind since yesterday: The high tobacco taxes are not only punitive of the poor in the direct, economic sense, they are also used to manipulate public opinion. It feeds into the “If they stopped smoking, drinking, etc, they would be able to feed their families” story. And the taxes on cigarettes are overlooked in the cry “Look what they are spending OUR money on.” The beneficiary holding an expensive cigarette is, by that account, a beneficiary that could be squeezed still harder. In fact the whole project stinks of the presumption that to be poor is to be without rights and completely at the mercy of middle class whim.

        • Vicky32

          In fact the whole project stinks of the presumption that to be poor is to be without rights and completely at the mercy of middle class whim.

          Exactly… If I eat a chocolate biscuit, I am expected to feel guilty! I am reminded that Jenny Shipley, back in the 90s, wanted to introduce legislation to stop beneficiaries from being able to spend money on various things including donations…

          • Bill

            Haven’t been able to verify this as yet, but have been told that pet food has been added to the impermissable items on a food grant.

            Got me wondering about chicken feed (feathered serpents are hardly pets) and the fact that some people buy pet food meat to use in stews and soups.

      • Jeremy Harris 25.2.2

        Oh dear. You don’t even understand that the logical end point of ‘free market’ ideology would see the crass monetisation of those (so-called) behavioural categories …of all human interactions (any other basis for interaction being ‘society’…that thing, the existence of which is denied by free market fundamentalists)?!

        Do you think that human enthusiasm and creativity can be bought? I don’t, it can’t, it is why studies show only 20% of US workers are fully engaged at work. As I’ve already said most of life occurs in free markets outside of the economic sphere.

        As for telling me what I like and don’t like, that’s particularly moronic and has me wondering whether I should ban you or not.

        From the tone your post and specific comments cited above it seemed a reasonable assumption to make.

        While I consider that, I’ll just say this. As long as I can secure access to some fairly basic material needs, I don’t really care who it is that I’m paying money to (ie, I don’t give too much of a fuck about money or social heirarchy)

        Well that would put you outside the overwhelmingly majority of behavourial and psychological research which shows that human beings are constantly evaluating their social hierarchy and have an overwhelming desire to know their place in it, however subjective it is. So again assuming that it would matter to you in some respect was not an unrealistic assumption to make.

        But when a government cynically and unnecessarily exploits the already financially precarious by taxing them on an addiction, in the full knowledge that such an act will jeopardise their access to other necessary material needs, then I start giving a fuck.

        This hardly seems solely a policy of the current government, the Maori party and Mana parties both seem to strongly support it, Hone Harawira doesn’t think it goes far enough. I don’t think Labour have made any noise about it. The only party that seems to support lowering tobacco taxes are those outside parliament.

        • McFlock

          Do you think that human enthusiasm and creativity can be bought? I don’t, it can’t, it is why studies show only 20% of US workers are fully engaged at work. .

          Hollywood and Disneyland might disagree.
          And as for “employee engagement”, that just goes to show that managers are shit and/or the pay is too low. Or as a barista used to tell me years ago when talking about other work: “They’d need to pay $12/hr to get me to turn up to work, $14 to get me there on time, $15 to to the job well and $16 to pretend to like it. And $17 to tolerate a fuckwit”.


          • Jeremy Harris

            If you are pointing out Hollywood and Disneyland as statistical outliers that is an interesting observation, as creative industries with certain management structures are certainly higher in engagement, also sometimes called “knowledge workers”. However I’m guessing you saying Hollywood is trying to trick us or similar?

            Study shows that after a certain level of remuneration motivation generally ends (generally at a level equal to being comfortable and then some – i.e. slightly above average, that old social structure again) and the only things that increase productivity and engagement after that, include things like self determination of work and work volume, membership in a team, communication through storytelling, high performance development, meaningful goals, direct line of sight to clients, etc.

            • McFlock

              you reckoned that creativity and enthusiasm can’t be purchased.

              The entertainment industry would disagree. Not as “statistical outliers”, but as clear cases where people turn up, develop new ideas as paid and required by studios (including “exec notes”), and then fuck off home not owning the copyright. Add the programming industry and practically any research field – it all involves creativity, lateral thinking and inspiration, within client restraints.      

              • Jeremy Harris

                This really is nit picking McFlock, obviously people will not stand around completely idlely in creative industries, will you be satisfied if I amend the sentence to:

                Do you think that full human enthusiasm and creativity can be bought?

                Which from my next sentence talking about engagment it was quite obvious I was referring to.

                • McFlock

                  So 20% of employees are “fully engaged”?


                  It looks like a full fifth of the U.S. working population are counterexamples to the assertion that  full human enthusiasm and creativity cannot be bought.

                  • Jeremy Harris

                    The 20% of people who do give full engagement do so because they choose to, in many cases remuneration has only part to do with it. They do so either because the are in an industry that fulfills their desires enough to be fully engaged or their workplace fulfills their personality and personal requirements enough for them to give their full engagement.

                    Is it that hard to comphrenhend that two people could be at the same workplace with the same conditions, for one the conditions inspire full engagement, for the other cynicism?

                    Again at work there is more than just the economic free market at work, as cited above people need more than just pay. Their “all” is not for sale, just their time and doing just enough not to get fired and more money will not change that, the human spirit requires more.

                    • McFlock

                      So even when 100% engagement is achieved in exchange for money, that doesn’t count?
                      Setting yourself up with a logically irrefutable hypothesis  is also slightly cultish.

                • McFlock

                  Fuck this. I’m off to the pub.

                  • Jeremy Harris

                    C) pretending that kids eating pig scraps are not an indictment on how society fails to look out for its most vulnerable.

                    Surely it’s an indictment on our society that someone wealthy enough to have a computer chooses to blow his money on alcohol instead on donating it to our “kids eating pig scraps”?

                    I’m looking forward to your drunken replies later.

                    • McFlock

                      So because you’re a tory who doesn’t think that those who benefit most from society should reimburse society for their privilege, I have to live like a monk? Talk about a negative externality.

  26. Vicky32 26

    I just put this on Facebook…
    “Well, I have heard it all… and I am not happy! Listening to the BBC WS, someone being interviewed about lung transplants. It turns out that 40% of transplanted lungs come from smokers, and the outcome of transplanting a smoker’s lung is the same as a non-smoker’s. Yet when the interviewer says as much, the man being interviewed, expresses a kind of sneering attitude to donors who were smokers, saying in effect ‘oh well, if we must’, and all I can think is, beggars and choosers, hey? I’ve always said that I want to be an organ donor – but er, no, not really. No teary gratitude for smokers, it seems, but instead, just a grudging acceptance. Who’d give a gift if it’s going to accepted with such ill grace? So, if a bus hits me tomorrow, stuff anyone else – you can’t have my organs. (NZ being what it is, they prolly wouldn’t want them anyway, this doctor being interviewed was in England.) “

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