A survey by ASH backs up one by UMR back in May showing that 60% of Kiwis back an end to commercial tobacco sales by 2020. I’m surprised by how strong the public mood for a ban is and not quite sure whether I agree.
My fellow writer, Zetetic, has called for a ban on tobacco sales in the past and Zet’s personal experience with the consequences of smoking have led to some pretty strong feelings on the matter.
I agree that the corporations who sell tobacco and the people who get rich off ‘supplying a market’ are scumbags who deserve everything we can throw at them.
And tobacco is a highly addictive substance that kills half its users. The direct and indirect costs are a terrible burden on its mostly poor addicts.
But we don’t ban alcohol just because some companies get rich off it and some people get addicted. And alcohol abuse is a cause in most crime.
For mine, I would prefer first to see more effective anti-smoking measures aimed at helping addicts quit and stopping people getting addicted in the first place. I’m thinking banning the displays, bland packaging, removing the flavouring, publishing the ingredients, not taking money out of the anti-smoking budget like the Nats have, and not increasing the tax on addicts.
If we do move to a commercial ban, I would like to see tobacco and marijuana treated equally: possession, use, and growing for personal use permitted but banned from shops.
We need a clear-eyed review of how we treat all drugs that says: we’re not going to stop people enjoying themselves but we want to prevent addiction and the costs that come with it, and corporations profiting off the addicted.
Of course, we just had a drug review that recommended some minor reforms and the Nats ran a mile, so I don’t hold out hope that sanity will prevail soon.