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.