Kiwis back smoking ban

Written By: - Date published: 10:50 am, August 4th, 2010 - 62 comments
Categories: crime, drugs, health - Tags:

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.

62 comments on “Kiwis back smoking ban ”

  1. Lats 1

    In an ideal world we would scrap all existing “drug” laws and start from scratch. Allow proper scientific findings on harms, costs and benefits to set policy, rather than listening to knee-jerk moralistic arguments from groups like family first, etc.However, we don’t live in an ideal world, and too often legislators from all corners of the house are either ignorant of the facts, or are too frightened of slipping in the polls to allow common sense to prevail. I don’t think we can point the finger at only the Nats, the Health Select Committee returned its findings on the harms around cannabis use while we were under a Labour government (and one with support from the Greens from memory) and still we saw no moves towards decriminalisation, even though moves in this direction would clearly result in less overall harm to society.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      Alcohol would be banned, right out of the gate.

      Prohibition failed last time it was tried, and will fail again. Anything like alcohol that is so easy to produce can’t really be banned.

      Tobacco similarly would see a black market developed if banned, either by 2020 or as Marty suggests allowing only personal use. However while people get actual joy out of marijuana, I don’t think people particularly enjoy smoking – those who say it “helps them relax” etc are simply relieving withdrawal symptoms (same thing with coffee – a study found that those who don’t drink coffee generally feel as ‘alert’ etc as a coffee-drinker does after they get their morning fix).

      • Lats 1.1.1

        I think the joy from smoking tobacco is part of the payoff from the addiction, you feed the monster and it rewards you. And I agree that prohibition is generally a pretty poor model, as you say it didn’t work too well in the USA in the 30’s, and it certainly isn’t working for cannabis here, not if stats suggesting that 50% of kiwis have tried it are accurate. Incidentally this means that 50% of kiwis are criminals in the eye of the law, which in itself suggests the current laws are a bit silly. Better to regulate, control and tax in my opinion.
        Ultimately I don’t think government has any right to dictate what I may or may not do to my own body, and as long as I pay my way, I’m not harming anyone else, and any potential costs to the health system etc. are met, then what I do is entirely my own business and nobody elses.

        • mcflock 1.1.1.1

          I love it when people tell me I don’t really enjoy the ritualistic and contemplative nature of smoking a cigar at the end of a long day.

          • Lats 1.1.1.1.1

            Thats not at all what I said, but if thats how you interpreted it, fair enough. I will say that in my experience cigar smokers are more into the sensation than ciggie smokers, for cigar smokers it seems to be almost a sensual act. Maybe thats why Bill Clinton used one with Monica Lewinski…

  2. Olwyn 2

    I’m afraid I get bored to death with the numerous conversations about what to ban and what to restrict. People being unable to afford to go to the dentist, people living in substandard housing of uncertain tenure, and the failure of our economy to provide people with living wages seem to me far more pressing concerns. This self-righteous desire to simultaneously impose both privation and a secular form of puritanism on the masses seems analogous to advocating amputation without anesthetic.

  3. BLiP 3

    Weren’t the Right getting their knickers all in a bunch about something they termed Nanny State?

    • Alwyn 3.1

      Can you please tell me who are the “right” you are implying want to ban all tobacco?
      If you think that ASH is a right wing organisation I fear you have been smoking something a lot stronger than tobacco.
      The main proponents of the ban on tobacco appear to be the Labour party. National may have members who don’t like it but they are hardly as rabid as some of our left wing groups.

      • Armchair Critic 3.1.1

        I don’t recall Labour advocating a ban on tobacco – got a link?
        I think BLiP was referring to “Nanny State” and “the right” in more general terms than just a hypothetical ban on tobacco. Could be something to do with the National party, who
        ..[were] founded on principles of individual responsibility, private enterprise, and reward for individual effort.
        according to their website, and whose vision and values include
        Competitive enterprise and rewards for achievement [and] Limited government
        but believes the best way to support limited government and private enterprise is Nanny State Regulation.
        Or it could be something to do with ACT, whose principles are:
        That individuals are the rightful owners of their own lives and therefore have inherent freedoms and responsibilities
        That the proper purpose of government is to protect such freedoms and not to assume such responsibilities.

        But those inherent freedoms, and the government’s protection of those same freedoms, does not extend to deciding what clothes one can wear. I understand communist China also liked to tell its citizens what to wear, in times gone by. More Nanny State from the right.
        In short – the current government says one thing and does something quite different. While they say they dislike “Nanny State”, they are quite happy to foist it upon us.

      • exbrethren 3.1.2

        The main proponents are part of the NACT/MP govt – Turia & Harawera. Alright they might not be right but they are part of the rightwing govt.

      • BLiP 3.1.3

        You miss the point. Part of the the election last year was to smear the Labour government with the Nanny State label – apparently a majority of New Zealanders were all against being told what to do. Now, it would seem, we are quite happy to be bossed about by a bunch of do-gooders.

        • Rex Widerstrom 3.1.3.1

          Now, it would seem, we are quite happy to be bossed about by a bunch of do-gooders

          I loathe being bossed around by do-gooders. And I see equal levels of do-gooderness in National and Labour. But that doesn’t really accord with the fact that:

          60% of Kiwis back an end to commercial tobacco sales by 2020

          That’s a majority of NZers telling their government what to do, not vice versa.

          Having said that, I don’t think they should do it. I tend to favour the approach outlined by Marty:

          more effective anti-smoking measures aimed at helping addicts quit and stopping people getting addicted in the first place… banning the displays, bland packaging, removing the flavouring, publishing the ingredients

          many of which have been introduced in Australia recently. While it’s early days, I’ve heard anecdotal evidence it’s working, though I have to say not amongst the smokers I know and whose second hand smoke I am forced to tolerate.

          My “magic wand” solution would be all the above plus giving all existing smokers an ID card identifying them as such. Only on production of such a card could tobacco products be purchased. Overnight, no new smokers… so at least the problem is no longer ongoing.

          • BLiP 3.1.3.1.1

            Yeah yeah yeah – I went out on a tenuous limb to have a swing at National Ltdâ„¢ – never miss a chance, as they say. Mea culpa.

          • McFlock 3.1.3.1.2

            A survey sponsored by ASH that is some sort of mandate?
            Anecdotal evidence is any indication whatsoever that population-based initiatives are having an intended effect?
            “Forced to tolerate”? Let me get my violin…
            make em all carry ID cards?

            Yup – that sort of crap is why I have significant amounts of contempt for anti-tobacco campaigners.

      • Rich 3.1.4

        Banning tobacco is a Maori party policy.

        A cynic would suggest that this is some kind of deal for the gangs, who would get to make lots of dosh from selling illegal tobacco (and weed).

        • felix 3.1.4.1

          That’s not what “cynic” means. The word you’re looking for is “moron”.

  4. Xiao Banfa 4

    Hear hear olwyn! I’m sick of people who dwell on fringe issues like marijuana etc… We need to get back to basics and ensure people have the necessities of life.

    Personally I’d take a cautiously liberal approach on drugs, tobacco and alcohol but there are so many issues screaming to be resolved before that.

  5. loota 5

    Both alcohol and drugs are big issues IF you believe that community violence, organised crime and road deaths are some of the issues screaming out to be looked at.

    Also health spending.

    But it may be better to not look at alcohol/drugs per se but at alcohol/drugs in the wider context of these other issues, certainly I’ll give you that.

  6. Kiwis back smoking ban

    I guess people are so chuffed with the outstanding success of banning cannabis that they’re now keen to see the benefits of banning things rolled out to other sectors. /sarcasm

  7. Olwyn 7

    Loota: With regard to smoking, it would seem, going by statistics, that other factors play at least as big a part in longevity as tobacco consumption, since of the 12 countries whose longevity is greater than ours, nine of them smoke more than we do, some substantially more, one smokes less and the other two are not listed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_cigarette_consumption_per_capita

    As to violence and organised crime, these seem to be largely associated with inequality if the Spirit Level is anything to go by.

    • loota 7.1

      Indeed, tobacco is just one of a number of major lifestyle factors which have a large impact on a citizen’s life expectancy at birth.

      Nevertheless, an epidemiologist could go through those stats above and estimate how the life expectancy of every single one of those countries would go up measurably if tobacco was not available.

      In other words, the life expectancy in the best countries would get even better.

      • mcflock 7.1.1

        but then an epidemiologist would also have to look at average consumption per smoker, not just total smokers, and by analysing the dose-response relationship could identify a level of smoking per individual that would have a negligible impact on individual health and overall incidence rates.

        Just like they do with vehicle safety, occupational health, and aircraft alterations.

        But that would be rational. Instead their only position is “ban it to save lives”, lumping processed tailormades in with rollies, cigars, pipe tobacco, and even snuff.

      • Olwyn 7.1.2

        As I said in the beginning, I think that a living wage, stable housing, etc are the real concerns. And I still don’t like it much when people talk about what to do with others, as if organising other lives was an exercise similar to rearranging the toys in the wendy house.

  8. Shona 8

    Marijuana is not a fringe issue. One of the reasons it was criminalised in the US was to make it easier to jail Latinos. It has been used as a divide and rule tactic by the power elite ever since. The victims of this tactic crowd our prisons and justice system .People are labeled, stigmatized, catergorized and marginalized for using it for all of their lives. A conviction for cannabis destroys careers and keeps often brilliant people from achieving in and contibuting to our society.Ignorant lazy nosey cops just love to use this unjust law as a pretext for fucking up young peoples lives.
    Tobacco and alcohol just destroy peoples bodies and minds and wreck their families and the cost is an enormous burden to the health system so that’s ok then .???? WTF
    The Oakland CA experience of taxing the medical cannabis industry has proven clearly the valid tax base for leagalising the weed.

  9. mcflock 9

    “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. ”

    Bullshit. The question was “not widely available for sale”. This does not mean the product is banned, nor does it even mean that commercial sales are outlawed. It just means not sold in as many places as coca cola.

    ASH “research” is as reliable as tobacco industry “research”.

  10. Bill 10

    Strange that nobody is hitting on the self medicating aspect of drug use.

    As somebody commented, smokers claim that tobacco helps them relax. We can go on about how they are simply reducing their withdrawal symptoms rather than relaxing, but the point is that smoking is indulged in for medical reasons. To avoid stress. To relax.

    Same with alcohol. Who hasn’t at some point exclaimed that they really could do with a drink? Again, not unusual for the indulgence to be in response to a psychological state.

    And I’d suggest that all the other drugs, from caffeine to opiates are often taken as a response to a state of mind…essentially self medicating. And the drugs that give a pleasurable pay back at least in the short term, possess a bonus which makes them preferable to ‘non-kick’ substances such as camomile or whatever.

    Moving on. Poverty sucks.

    And it seems that all else being equal drug use tracks poverty/ wealth. So if a cigarette appears to mitigate the stress of a shitty poverty ridden situation then should we be targeting the cigarette or should we be targeting something else? Such as our acceptance beyond a bit of hand wringing, of having people live in shitty, poverty ridden situations?

    How many times you heard that the cigarette is the only remaining pleasure a person perceives? And how often is that person a poor person that has no or very limited access to other forms of pleasure that requires money to attain? And before somebody responds that the money saved by quitting could be used to buy other pleasures, the ‘bang for buck’ aspect of pleasure needs to be taken into account. A packet of tobacco or a pack of cigarettes delivers many moments of pleasure and relief over a very long time.

    Allow cigarette smokers to register as addicts and provide them their tobacco for free and for life or until they choose to quit. And ban its sale and advertising completely. If people want to grow it and try to cure it and blend it, then hey. They’re keen. Allow them.

  11. Didn’t work and won’t work in the future. The prohibition was a veritable goldmine for criminals as they were raking it in from people who just wanted to have a good time. That will happen again. Having said that it makes perfect sense when you realise that the English empire made most of their money ever when they grew opium in India and exported that to China and every country they wanted to and the CIA is now doing the same with the Afghan opium. Long live GOD. (Gold, Oil And Drugs.)

    Prohibition was never good for the general population but always for the powers that be who could sell it illegally and at a premium. All those smokers could make a real difference politically if they stopped smoking and said screw you with state controlled drugs that poison us and make us ill and are used to extract more tax from us. Now that would be a coup.

  12. jbanks 12

    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.

    You’re forgetting that tobacco doesn’t have a link to psychosis.

    • BLiP 12.1

      While you’re avoiding the fact that it is the use of tobacco in combination with marijuana that causes the psychosis. Thus, although vicarious, there is a clear link.

      • jbanks 12.1.1

        ahahaha next you’ll be trying to tell me that pot smoking is not linked to lung cancer.

        • BLiP 12.1.1.1

          And you’ll be telling me that because its been so wet today, global warming is bollocks.

      • Mac1 12.1.2

        I’d be interested in seeing such a link, BLiP.

        What is it with trolls such as jbanks above that they begin their posts with faux frivolity?

        • BLiP 12.1.2.1

          I did see a more reputable source but cannot seem to lay my cursor on it for the moment – http://www.hipforums.com/newforums/showthread.php?t=155674 .

          There are many interesting articles about tobacco use by those afflicted with mental illness and there is some indication that while smoking may relieve some symptoms, long term it is more harmful to the patient than continuing with marijuana. Also interesting is the conflict between the studies which show an apparent link to marijuana and schizophrenia is not duplicated with other drugs such as LSD and peyote. At this stage, the science is far from complete and, while the media/police/state like to escalate the fear factor, the evidence is tremulous at best. In relation to tobacco, the science is definitely in and proves tobacco causes significant damage to the brain, a symptom of which is depression amongst younger smokers.

          The faux frivolity is confirmation that they really are trolls. jbanks and his cohorts often don’t believe a word of what they are posting and are simply up to mischief. I’d ignore it most of the time but every now and then its quite fun pointing out the glaring discrepancies in their stated position and reality even if its just for the lols.

          • Mac1 12.1.2.1.1

            Cheers, BLiP. Steddyeddy, a commenter at the link you gave, cites half a dozen studies on nicotine and deleterious mental effects. Lay your cursor there, lad.

          • jbanks 12.1.2.1.2

            “I did see a more reputable source but cannot seem to lay my cursor on it for the moment http://www.hipforums.com/newforums/showthread.php?t=155674 .”

            This is why no one can take potheads seriously and the status of weed won’t change. When asked for evidence you post a link to rap music forum. Good one cheech.

            Here’s some peer reviewed studies:
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12446534
            CONCLUSIONS: Cannabis use is associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia, consistent with a causal relation. This association is not explained by use of other psychoactive drugs or personality traits relating to social integration.
            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539839/?tool=pmcentrez
            Conclusion Cannabis use moderately increases the risk of psychotic symptoms in young people but has a much stronger effect in those with evidence of predisposition for psychosis.
            http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/325/7374/1195?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=1&author1=Patton&author2=Coffey&title=Cannabis+Cohort&andorexacttitle=and&andorexacttitleabs=and&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&fdate=1/1/2000&tdate=3/31/2006&resourcetype=HWCIT
            A strong association between daily use of cannabis and depression and anxiety in young women persists after adjustment for intercurrent use of other substances.
            Frequent cannabis use in teenage girls predicts later higher rates of depression and anxiety.
            Depression and anxiety in teenagers do not predict later cannabis use; self medication is therefore unlikely to be the reason for the association.

            read it & weep

            • felix 12.1.2.1.2.1

              When asked for evidence you post a link to rap music forum. Good one cheech.

              Where is this “rap music forum”? You hallucinating again, Chong?

            • BLiP 12.1.2.1.2.2

              Nothing you have posted refutes the causal link between the combined use of tobacco and marijuana in the development of mental illness. Twerp.

              • jbanks

                When I said that marijuana is linked to psychosis, you replied that this was only because tobacco was being used with it.

                The research I posted concluded that marijuana is in fact linked to psychosis.

                There may be a causal link between the combined use of tobacco and marijuana in the development of mental illness (although you can’t show this) – but this is beside the point when it’s been proven that there IS a causal link between smoking marijuana and the development of mental illness (which I’ve shown).

                You’ll have to do better than that stoney maloney

                • BLiP

                  You’re an idiot. None of the reports you link to include the contributory nature of tobacco in the assessment procedure. For the reports to have any validity in this discussion, each subject would have to be a non-smoker.

                  • jbanks

                    Cute, the stoner thinks that his amateur meta-analysis nullifies hundreds of medical studies showing weed is linked to psychosis.
                    Unless you can provide some medical literature evaluating the psychoactive effects of using marijuana and tobacco together then you’re just spouting unfounded biased speculation.

                    • BLiP

                      Oh, you mean like this?

                      The researchers found no significant effects of cannabis or tobacco use on the risk for onset of psychotic symptoms when they simply categorized participants by their highest ever level of use. However, when examining changes in substance use over time, they found significant effects of progression to both daily cannabis use and daily tobacco use on the risk for onset of psychosis.

                      Or maybe this?

                      A significant proportion of young patients treated for first-episode psychosis are at risk of mental and physical health problems associated with substance misuse and/or regular tobacco use.

                  • jbanks

                    “Oh, you mean like this? http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/712641

                    Did you even read the discussion for the so called “study”?

                    However, one of her “caveats” is that the study did not include a statistical model that analyzed tobacco and cannabis together.
                    “The findings for either one of those drugs could be confounded or explained by the use of the other one,” she said. “It may be that tobacco is not relevant [but] the cannabis use is, but the people who smoke cannabis also happen to be using tobacco.
                    Dr. Corcoran noted that the study is retrospective and based on self-reports and that its findings may not be applicable outside the population studied.

                    Smoke up all you like. I begrudge no-one the experience, but don’t delude yourself from the fact that what your doing is actually directly harming you.
                    Shit though what doesn’t these days.
                    Life is short enjoy it. Smoke, drink, eat, f%*k, its all good.

  13. Joshua 13

    wow, so you are prepared to keep paying the cost of treatment for these x-smokers?

    The reason most people will agree with banning smoking, is because of the effects it has on them, passive smoking etc, but mostly because people are sick of seeing taxpayers money been spent on hospitals to help people who have been warned and warned of the adverse health effect it has on their body. So unless we manage to charge smokers with a extra tax, that somehow pays for all the operations and health consequences of this Habit, it will always have that support to ban it.

    • BLiP 13.1

      There is already an extra tax on tobacco to cover this. Can’t you get anything right?

      • Joshua 13.1.1

        It doesn’t event cover a fraction of the costs we deal with because of this habit. You should do some research before making statements of the kind

        • Lats 13.1.1.1

          Actually it does. The annual tax take from tobacco excise tax is approximately $1 billion. The estimated cost to the country is $1.7 billion, but included a number of factors which should in actuality not constitute a cost. For example, given that smokers on average live about 15-20 years less than non-smokers, included in their “cost” figure is lost income for smokers dying early. Given that on average about 1/2 this time would have been spent on the pension, smokers dying early actually save the government money. Here is a quote from the Smoke-free Coalition and ASH in their report on tobacco taxation in 2007:

          “it does seem reasonably apparent that the tax contribution of approximately $1 billion annually by smokers exceeds substantially the external costs of smoking which fall on non-smokers. If savings on pension costs from premature mortality were added as well the net fiscal contribution of smokers, to the fiscal gain of non-smokers, would be further increased.”

          It seems unlikely that the Smokefree Coalition and ASH would have any reason to distort their figures in favour of smokers.

    • Lats 13.2

      Smokers, through tobacco excise tax, already more than cover costs incurred on the health system. They are actually subsidising us non-smokers by a small amount.

  14. Kleefer 14

    I’m ashamed that so many of my fellow New Zealanders are opposed to individual freedom but I’m not surprised. The War On Drugs has killed millions worldwide but it’s won some populist politicians a few elections with the help of its ally, Tough On Crime. I don’t personally smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs but I don’t see why that should allow me to stop others doing so.

    • loota 14.1

      I’m ashamed that so many of my fellow New Zealanders are opposed to individual freedom but I’m not surprised.

      What about the freedom to NOT spend the last two years of your life on chemo, on oxygen, breathless and blue after taking a dozen steps, sounding like a broken down Darth Vader with your thinning skin breaking down in ulcerations.

      Man that’s an individual freedom worth defending, yeah?

      captcha: unaware

      • Joshua 14.1.1

        Not to mention us the taxpayer are paying for there equipment and treatment.

        • Lats 14.1.1.1

          Don’t forget that smokers are taxpayers too, so they are paying for equipment used in their own treatment. Seems pretty fair to me.

      • McFlock 14.1.2

        as opposed to the cheap, quick and painless things non-smokers die of?

        Oh, I forgot – non-smokers live to be 100, then suddenly drop dead quickly and painlessly, therefore costing nothing in healthcare.

        Loota, seriously, we all die. It is frequently a slow and painful process no matter what the cause (although palliative care does seem to be entering a new age at the moment). Banning tobacco isn’t going to stop that. Deal with it.

  15. big blouse 15

    I grow my own fags, up in smoke gummint [not needed — r0b].

  16. Michael Over Here 16

    I’m not in favour of illegalising tobacco but I’d like to see more restrictions on public smoking and the littering that comes from butts being tossed out of car windows and on to our streets and eventually to pollute our sea.

    • loota 16.1

      Drift the tobacco purchase and use age up to 21.

      Maximum pack size of 10, and make them cost as much as 20 today.

      Improper disposal of tobacco packaging and parapehanlia to attract large fines.

      No smoking allowed on the premises of any restaurant or bar.

      I’m sure a few other things could be done.

      • McFlock 16.1.1

        yeah – we could all grow up and also see the litter from McDs wrappers, chewing gum and beer cans. Maybe look at the causes of the litter problem, not just harass the usual suspects.

  17. RedLogix 17

    I’m pretty much with Bill and Olwyn on this. Externally imposed prohibitions simply do not work, unless and until the large majority of the people have also internalised the same values.

    For instance, Islam’s belief/value system quite effectively creates a virtual prohibition on alcohol, not just because there is a rule against it, but because the large majority willingly incorporate such a rule into their daily lives. They observe the rule, not so much through fear of being caught, but because the mere thought of drinking and being drunk is shameful in itself. (And yes I’m perfectly aware that like all religions Islam has it’s own fair share of hypocrisy on this matter, but the prohibition is a generally observed widely enough to make for a valid example.)

    The point is, people will stop using drugs when they want to, which has both an internal and external aspect. If you ask someone “Why do you drink/smoke?”, the answer will either come in the form of, “It makes me feel better”, or “It’s how I have fun and socialise”. Both are expressions of emotional needs.

    When someone says, “Drugs make me feel better” it begs the obvious question, “Why did you feel so bad in the first place?”. That’s the essence of what Bill is saying above. The drug is of course a short-term palliative/antidote to a deeper long-term physiological symptoms of emotional hurt. The three primary drugs we commonly use in our society each corresponds to a primary emotion:

    Alcohol is the antidote for fear symptoms.

    Nicotine antidotes anger.

    Marijuana antidotes grief.

    Understanding this important correlation unlocks the door to self-understanding; and with that comes the ability to face the real causes of the pain…and eliminate the need to self-medicate away the symptoms.

    Equally there is an external social element to drug use. Far too many of us have no idea how to have fun in groups with first getting shitfaced one way or another. This kind of behaviour IS ammenable to external social approbation and change. Call it ‘social engineering’ or ‘pc nanny state’ if you will, but I’ve yet to see any coherent justification for failing to aspire to something better. If the world COULD be rid of the dreadful harm caused by alcohol and nicotine alone….why would we not?

    The temptation is to impose the external change, to attempt the social engineering, without paying respect to the internal drivers of drug use. That’s a mistake that’s been made many times before. The example I gave from Islam above gives a partial clue about how to avoid this trap, although our very non-ecclesiatic society likely responds to rather differently packaged cues.

  18. Nick C 18

    “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.”

    Are these the same point or different points Marty? I.e. do you generally oppose people making a profit, or only when it comes to tabbaco products?

  19. How about electronic cigarettes? Solves all the problems.

  20. Smoking bans are great if only they would be a little more considerate of us smokers,it is an addiction after all.

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  • Joint statement from the Prime Ministers of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand
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