Smokefree? Then Cut the Crap!

Written By: - Date published: 3:30 pm, March 18th, 2013 - 48 comments
Categories: drugs, health, Social issues - Tags: , ,

Apparently the government is concerned for the general health of people in New Zealand. Apparently, an expression of this concern is the roll out of policy initiatives that will result in New Zealand being smoke free by 2025.

As a fairly heavy smoker of some years, I have no problem with the stated goal. In fact I welcome it. But here’s the thing – the government obviously doesn’t give a shit about the general health and well being of people in New Zealand.

Last July I wrote a post outlining a strategy that would go a long way towards the government achieving a smoke free New Zealand. I stand by what was said then given the information I had to hand.

Currently available Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs) such as gum, patches or inhalers are bloody expensive (really, not much cheaper than smoking)  and just don’t address the many incidental pleasures and habits involved in smoking. In fact, they seem to only adequately address the desire of pharmaceutical companies to spin vast profits from selling overpriced sources of nicotine to nicotine addicts.

The long and the short of current government policies is to reward pharmaceutical manufacturers by pushing a captive market their way while financially punishing and socially vilifying the addicts who comprise that potential market.

A couple of weeks ago I sourced two electronic delivery units and enough nicotine to last well over a year at my currently high nicotine consumption rates. Taking everything into account (units, nicotine, carrier solution, postage etc)  costs work out at somewhere between $2 and $3 per week over the next year as opposed to the weekly $50 or $60 (and rising) of smoking or buying existent NRTs every week.

So here’s a system where all the attendant pleasures and habits formally associated with smoking remain; a system where the health concerns have been eliminated. And because the user is able to determine the dosage of nicotine, the amount of nicotine can be incrementally reduced to zero at a pace that suits the user.

And what has this government done? You guessed it. A system that has no known (and very likely will have no known) negative health effects that puts former smokers firmly in control of their nicotine use has been fucking well banned from retail sale.

The excuse is that nicotine is a medicine. (Except when it’s sold as tobacco of course.) Which is nice for the government’s ongoing take of tobacco tax and nice for pharmaceuticals looking to gouge the very people the government claims to be concerned about.

48 comments on “Smokefree? Then Cut the Crap!”

  1. Lightly 1

    interesting. have you got a link to the product online or a link to the ban?

  2. shorts 2

    I’ve a concern about the stated goal – why?

    For what purpose is a smoke free NZ so important?

    I don’t believe for a second this govt or any other gives a rats arse for my personal health except where in comes to the potential I may cost the taxpayers for health treatment I might not have needed if I didn’t smoke

    I am curious as to how you’re doing with electronic cigarettes, as its something I’ve been considering too

    • Bill 2.1

      I’ve no desire to smoke tobacco or cigarettes after 20 odd years of smoking. What more can I say? The addiction side of things is dealt with including those components of the addiction that are more to do with ritual etc.

    • bad12 2.2

      The revenue gathering Government using tobacco addiction as a means of such revenue gathering is further exposed,

      Strange isn’t it that this same Government has not banned ‘duty free’ cigarettes despite there being evidence of overseas travelers part funding there jaunts off of the back of a black market in the products brought through duty free,

      Yet banished is a nicotine replacement tool??? this apparent contradiction wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that it is the monied frequent flyers who are gaining the profits from on-selling duty free tobacco products and such monied folk are more likely to be National Party voters…

      • Mark 2.2.1

        Haha, that is about the most ridiculous conspiracy theory I have ever heard.. can I use it? No doubt all these Nact mate frequent flyer rich pricks are probably travelling back and forth over the tasman every day so they can make what.. $90 on a carton?? Fuck, I’m wetting myself.. is that you Wussel.. with a level of economic intelligence like that it must be..
        Oh, that was good.. but back to reality..

        I’m a heavily addicted smoker, have been for 30 years.. apparently the tax take from smokers far exceeds the cost to society, and subsidises a whole other bunch of health initiatives.. isn’t that a good thing in your eyes?

        I have also tried (used) pretty much every illicit substance.. none of which have had anything like the addictive effect of nicotine on me.. except possibly pot when I was a teenager which I severely regret using then.

        I have the Greensmoke stuff.. not bad, especially on long flights (1 hour +), but there is nothing like that ritual of lighting up and smoking.

        But what should we do.. ban tobacco?.. tax it more?.. plain packaging?.. health initiatives?..

        • bad12 2.2.1.1

          Aw PG when are you going to drop the charade and revert back to the usual handle, yes the trying of all the illicit substances will explain nicely the apparent brain damage inherent in your comments,

          Scoff all you want, sports teams, rich pricks,little old granny’s, none of whom smoke all totter through ‘arrivals’ with the full compliment of duty free tobacco products and the frequent fliers are the worst of them all,

          Only a fool or a drug addled deranged retard would suggest that anyone indulges in the rigors of international travel on the basis of a trade in black market tobacco products, those that do indulge in the black market aspect of that travel simply do so on the basis of an incidental perk,

          For those that travel internationally on a weekly basis as part of their employment the perk of black market duty free tobacco products are a grand little earn,

          Funny how as the tax on tobacco products rose so did the uptake of duty free tobacco products…

        • tricledrown 2.2.1.2

          mark how does 1.2 billion in tax equal 6 billion in damages to the economy!
          The rest of us are subsidizing your slow sucky suicide!
          it would be more satisfying if just one cigarette did the job then you would have no complaints or addiction excuses!
          Its hypocritical that we prosecute people who indulge and push less dangerous drugs like heroine cocaine p etc and tobacco which kills hundreds times more people !

          • McFlock 2.2.1.2.1

            I have some doubts about an economic analysis that remembers excise tax but forgets fifteen or twenty odd years of zero pensions paid to half of smokers (at pre-excise levels, anyway).

            Particularly after you dropped the”suicide” zinger.

            • tricledrown 2.2.1.2.1.1

              Mc flock the govt inquiry into tobacco proved 4,700 people a year died from tobacco related deaths!
              Loss of income through time off work and early deaths and other related losses ie damage done to families by loosing family members early ,loosing the support of elders in the families of those who die early has a knock on effect that was proven to have serious economic effects for those left behind!
              That money that wasn,t paid out in pensions also had flow on effect(keynsian)in lowering economic activity!

              • McFlock

                Ah. So the pension bubble by 2050 is an economic bonus.
                And what about those people with no dependants, I wonder. And did that factor use average consumption by weight of tobacco at the time, or project decreasing consumption by smokers with increasing excise?

                It’s amazing what economics can come up with when the prevalent prejudice has a desired outcome. One only needs to look at the tories for that.

  3. ghostrider888 3

    True Article Bill; conventional NRT is potentially another medico / commercial scam. Alan Carr suggests cold turkey, however this is easier said… cos nicotine is one of the most addictive substances in the pharmacopea; Still, it is about prospective tax burden as shorts identifies, and a fair amount of authoritarianism imo; consider the cost of other Western life-style choice activities to the public purse. I don’t know, sport, work-related accidents, the effects of poverty come to mind for a start. Having faced the reaper a few times now, growing own tobacco for accompanying the odd cup of tea sounds attractive.
    Anyway, the future costs of the rate the locals consume booze and other recreational drugs is going to sting more imo; talked with a couple of profs. working in the field recently: Addiction is a growth industry baby!(still, inflicting ones smoke on children and others? not so cool Marlboro Man)

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Alan Carr suggests cold turkey, however this is easier said…

      I went cold turkey – in the end it was the only way I could give up. It was hard for the first week, during which time I had a couple of puffs on a couple, but after that the craving for smoking went away pretty quick.

  4. McFlock 4

    lol

    Although I have no intention of quitting, my sister and her husband used those successfully.

    I seem to recall that NZ1’s (I almost wrote “Winston’s”, but that might have led to confusion 🙂 ) funded their kids <4 doctor visits in 1997 via a coincidental $300mil rise in tobacco excise. After that the nats kept hiking the excise to fund any old policy.

    But it was labour who hiked the fees while making quit therapies free for all.

    • Bill 4.1

      Maybe I’m happy enough to be addicted to nicotine too. Which doesn’t matter, because the health concerns were and are around smoking. And I don’t smoke.

      Meanwhile, the NRTs are not free in perpetuity. You get (maybe) two goes at patches that are paid for from the public purse, ie – the manufacturers get their full whack of dosh. And if the various gums and patches don’t work over the long haul, then you have to pay full (and grossly inflated) prices for whatever NRT your chemist can supply.

      But my question, aside from the stupidity of the ban, is to do with the justification of an inhaler consisting of the same ingredients as an e-cig costing between $50 and $60 and lasting maybe one or two weeks when an e-cig costs about $20, will last over 300 recharges (over a year) and an excess of a years supply of ingredients will cost less than $100 – including overseas P&P?

      I mean, both items are manufactured by companies out to make money. Yet the (arguably far less effective) pharmaceutical product is many, many times more expensive than the other.

      • McFlock 4.1.1

        I suppose that goes as to whether nicotine should be a controlled substance and the effect on supply restrictions in a capitalist medical health system – pharmac is socialist, but it only has so much negotiating power with the private enterprise suppliers.

        Personally I’d say that the obvious answer is no, NRT should be just as accessible as cigarettes themselves. Unless there’s some problem with either the e-cigarettes or the refill solution, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be.

        I CAN project motives onto separate but powerful players – big pharma of course wants people to ask their doctor to write a script so they can pay an exorbitant amount for a restricted product, and ASH have a real bee in their bonnet about things that allegedly “normalise” smoking. And the nacts are happy because it removes one avenue of escape that addicts have to stop smoking if they want too, thus ensuring sustained tax revenue from the increased excise levies the nacts impose to pretend they give a fuck about people. But that’s all cynical supposition, of course.

    • bad12 4.2

      Yes we have been here befor, from the Chairman of the ‘Quitline program’, 1st line of His annual report, if my memory serves me right the 2012 edition,

      ”Quitline reaches 9% of smokers”, from a study by a university professor who’s name escapes me right at this moment released about the same time, ”2% of those who try will be successful at quitting and within 12 months over 60% of that 2% will have started smoking the stuff again”,

      The evidence is there if you choose to dig it out, attempting to tax people away from the Nicotine Addiction does not lead to any great degree of cessation,

      Given that the largest cohort of those who do smoke are to be found in the lowest income brackets we have to then consider what is the effect of higher taxation upon these people who cannot quit the addiction,

      Obviously if you are on a low income then the only discretion in that income is usually to be found in the food budget, it then becomes apparent that such overt taxation will be as damaging to the health of those addicted to the product as the product is supposed to be…

  5. nthshoredoc 5

    Not sure why you think NRT is ‘bloody expensive’ it’s been subsidised in NZ for quite a while now and is only a rX fee or not even that if you have reached you rX limit for the year.

    • Bill 5.1

      I think it’s bloody expensive because I picked up an inhaler containing nicotine at a chemist to have a look and it was priced at over $50.

      • nthshoredoc 5.1.1

        If you’re dumb enough to buy NRT over the counter at the chemist it is expensive.

        You can get it next to free on Rx.

        • Bill 5.1.1.1

          Not sure what Rx or rX refers to (prescription?). But if you are saying that I could go to my doctor, pay my $40 or whatever for the visit and get (say) patches and just keep going back for years to get my supply of patches topped up, then that’s news to me.

          Is that what you are saying? That prescriptions can be repeated ad-infinitum?

          • nthshoredoc 5.1.1.1.1

            You can go through your GP but it’s cheaper still to go through one of the services like Quitline

            http://www.quit.org.nz/62/help-to-quit/nicotine-patches-gum-and-lozenges

            Good luck with trying to kick the habit.

            • Bill 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Yeah -nah. The question was whether endless repeat scrips are possible? It’s a serious question given as how these government policies are basically driving the ‘captured’ tobacco industry customer base over to an equally captured or monopolised and far more heavily subsidised pharmaceutical market.

              As bad12 quotes at comment 4.2 – these NRT simply don’t work for the vast majority of smokers. But with tobacco prices going through the roof, many of the million or so smokers in NZ are being driven to using NRTs…that the pharmaceutical industry makes a killing on- courtesy of the public purse.

              Meanwhile, a cheap and effective alternative (that just happens to not be under the control of the pharmaceuticals) has been effectively banned.

              Meaning that both smokers and non-smokers are being duped and ripped off if those scripts are able to be endlessly repeated.

              • nthshoredoc

                The pharma industry in NZ doesn’t make much money out of NRT at all as it’s been tendered out by PHRMAC since around 2005.

                NRT approximately doubles the effectiveness of smoking cessation programmes although it’s still not flash at around the 6-7% range after six months – failing NRT you are best to ask your GP about buproprion or varenicline which gets success rates up to around 15% and 25% respectively.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Best to spend the money on prevention rather than cure

                  it’s a few millions of dollars p.a., at a guess, for big pharma

            • Colonial Weka 5.1.1.1.1.2

              Can you please answer the questions?

              Are NRTs available long term?

              Can you access prescriptions for them without having to see a doctor?

              What’s the maximum length of prescription time?

              • nthshoredoc

                Are NRTs available long term?

                Yes

                Can you access prescriptions for them without having to see a doctor?

                Yes

                What’s the maximum length of prescription time?

                12 weeks

                • Bill

                  So including the cost of an appointment, it’s possible to get 12 weeks of an NRT that has a reducing nicotine content (eg patches that progress from 20mg down to 5mg or whatever) And that costs roughly $200 per year at $40 + per doctor visit + prescription charge.

                  Alternatively, importing nicotine and an e-cig pack (two batteries, recharger etc) that allows you to control your nicotine dose costs (tops) $150 for more than a one year supply. And it doesn’t require dropping all of the ingrained habits associated with smoking.

                  Then we have the issue of public monies pointlessly subsidising the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.

                  In the current situation where the government is hell bent on penny pinching and where it also claims to have the health of the general populace at heart, why is it spending unnecessary money on strategies that have questionable results and literally assuring that more smokers become ill or die by blocking access to an affordable and safe alternative?

  6. just saying 6

    Bill,
    In your various links, I couldn’t find where you had sourced the product.
    I realise there are issues with publicising this. Could you perhaps email me with the info?
    This product could help my health and my budget.

    And if not…
    Bad12, I’ve been meaning to ask – what do you store your cured, finished tobacco in for the long term?
    [B- Done 🙂 ]

    • bad12 6.1

      Lolz, we are getting way off topic here, but, i buy those big paper rubbish bags from the supermarket, cut them in half and staple the bottom of the half that has npo bottom in it givoing it a bottom and making two good sized thick paper bags,

      Once i have stripped out the middle rib of the leaves i grab bunches of dried leaves and give them a first cut, as fine as possible with one cut of the scissors and into the paper bags the cut stuff goes and from there into the hot water cupboard THIRD shelf up which allows the cut leaf to remain stable and doesn’t radically dry the stuff anymore than what it is,

      My hot water cylinder has been wrapped, so if yours aint, possibly the top shelf of the hot water cupboard would be better,

      From there i give handfuls of the stuff a second cutting on the table to make it fine enough to roll, the ready to smoke, the stuff then goes into those dutch biscuit tins which i have cut a thick piece of cardboard with which to line the bottom of the tin with, (cardboard and paper are good at stabilizing this and other smokable’s as they allow for the transmission of moisture back and forth),

      And finally i have another biscuit tin which i have a small amount of finely cut smokable tobacco in for rolling ciggys, (have found that this tin when opened and clposed during the day to get a rolly going will on the wetter days provoke the tobacco to get damp or dry depending upon the time of year so keeping little bits,(half a days smoking) in that tin means if it gets too damp or too dry there’s not much hassle in mixing it back into one of the tins of cut stuff,

      Hope that helps, lolz i had a great grow this year, in the ground at the start of November and all pulled by the end of January, cased and cut up and in the hot water cupboard now, i have a half rubbish bag to give the first cut,(which i was supposed to do today), and the leaves off of the 3 plants i kept in the ground longer for seeds drying in the shed…

      • just saying 6.1.1

        Thanks Bad12.
        Glad to hear you had a good year!

        • bad12 6.1.1.1

          Welcome!!!, as an afterthought the reason i use multiple paper bags is the ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ analogy,

          i use 12 bags and next year all that’s left in them from this season,(lolz lot’s), can go into on full size rubbish sack and then reside on the next shelf up,

          My habits a whopping $100 a week at current prices so it’s all money in the bank as far as i am concerned,(saving up for when they get around to making growing ya own illegal),

          i havn’t bought any since the first week in December…

          • RJLC 6.1.1.1.1

            You go to a lot of trouble to enable a slow death or shortened lifespan for yourself.
            Such determination.
            Hats off.

            • McFlock 6.1.1.1.1.1

              AS if non-tobacco related death n old age is any quicker.
              And yeah, there’s a calculated trade off of quality of life vs length. Frankly, the prospect of another fifty years in a society run by sanctimonious pricks drives me to drink as well as tobacco.

  7. Rich 7

    A “smokefree NZ’ isn’t going to happen by 2025, or anytime after that. The two holdout groups of the underclass and rebellious alternative culture types will prove very difficult to shift.

    I guess they’ll change the definition to something like 75% non-smoking, cigarettes banned in public, cigarettes only obtainable from a (huge, organised-crime run) black market or something like that.

    • Colonial Weka 7.1

      Or cigarettes on prescription (see Bill’s original post linked above).

      I can see the potential for the e-cigs to become trendy and desirable. NZ has been successful at changing attitudes towards smoking. I think there is a lot further we can go with this.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        And if e-cigs become trendy and desirable then smoking ends, aye? (And big pharma loses it’s publicly subsidised pay-cheque) Win/win I’d say.

        • bad12 7.1.1.1

          Lolz, i am willing to put money on it that the only ‘means’ of attempting this ‘smokefree NZ’ by anytime will be through taxation,

          i am so sure of this simply because i do not believe that those at the top of the food chain are after anything but some easy to get at tax monies from those who have no way of stopping the use of the product being taxed,

          It’s exhausting to keep repeating this,but, if ‘they’ were serious about dramatically reducing the amount of smokers in NZ ‘they’ would simply have had us all register as users of the product with our doctors over the period of 6 months to a year and at the cut off point only those with a doctors scrip would be able to purchase cigarettes,

          In doing that no-one presently under the age of 18 could register as an addict and thus use of the product legally bought would in the future die off as the present generation of smokers did,

          Either way, through taxation or the prescription method i describe above there would develop a small black market,(Lolz maybe a big one), but,way less tobacco than is being smoked today would be being consumed…

  8. Colonial Weka 8

    Reading the Herald link, ffs, could they not get an actual legal opinion from an actual legal expert? Medsafe say e-cigs are illegal (I’m guessing they are overstating the case), and the smoke-free trust people are saying they’re legal as long as the seller doesn’t make therapeutic claims.

    While I don’t believe that the nicotine in e-cigs is completely benign (all drugs have side effects), I definitely support the idea that people should be free to choose, and that choice should be affordable to all.

    Am curious about this from the medsafe dude

    “”Nicotine is a deadly poison and when intended for administration to humans it is a scheduled medicine,” said group manager Dr Stewart Jessamine.”

    Nothing to qualify that?

  9. Huginn 9


    Kim Hill interviews Richard Hurt, the director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Centre, visiting New Zealand for the Inaugural International Cancer Symposium organised by the University of Otago.
    (Duration: 32′16″)

    Dr Hill makes the point that there is considerable variation in our response to nicotine and that strategies to quit smoking have to be tailored to suit the individual.

    He made the case for inhalers by arguing that nicotine isn’t the problem as much as all the other substances in the smoke. So nicotine delivered by inhaler is relatively benign.

    Most interesting, from a political pov, was his description of the evolution of the modern cigarette into a carefully engineered technology of ruthless exploitation that bears little little resemblance to the cigarettes that our grandparents smoked.

    It would be interesting to find out whether the tobacco lobby has had anything to do with this ban on nicotine inhalers.

  10. Huginn 10

    Here’s the link to the Kim Hill interview:

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday/audio/2463680/richard-hurt-big-tobacco-and-nicotine-dependence.as

    Sorry, I wasn’t able to insert it nicely into the previous post.

  11. millsy 11

    To be honest, Im getting rather uncomfortable with this whole ‘smokefree by 2025’ thing. Are we going to ban the sale of tobacco? Cant see that working out too well. The last time prohibition was tried on such a scale, we had nice chaps like Al Capone, and John Dillinger in the headlines….

    I dont like smoking, and I supported the contrversial law to ban smoking from bars (sky hasant fallen in yet, though a few nightclubs here have gone to the wall since that law was passed, including the iconic “Mill”, co-incidental, maybe), but I think things have gotten really far, with the plain packaging, the tax hikes, and the covering up of retail displays, not to mention councils banning smoking in bars, banning smoking in prisons (they would have been better off to make smoking a privilige that inmates had to earn), and now we hear that DHB’s want to sack staff who smoke, crazy.

    Seems to me that this is all about Tariana Turia’s desire to be bracketed with Apriana Ngata and Maui Pomare.

    The e-cigarettes sound interesting, and I think allowing their sale and distrubution is a good idea, better than going on at us about who naughty we are for lighting up. It will probably make them smoke even more…

  12. beatie 12

    I started smoking 30+ years ago. I’ve had periods of non-smoking, the longest lasting 8 years. I’ve tried the gum and the inhaler but found them both addictive. I tried the Alan Carr method and found it incredibly easy . Unfortunately it’s so easy with this method that I’ve start again thinking I’ll just read the book and bingo. At present I haven’t smoked for 3 months and don’t miss it. As I get older it is much harder on me physically and I simply can’t afford it even ‘tho I smoke rollies. Also it just so lovely to have my sense of smell back.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      Which must mean your sense of taste also improves?

      • McFlock 12.1.1

        fuck I need to smoke more – got into the office this morning and was overwhelmed by a stench of what must have been spagbol’s misbegot cousin. Sheeeeit. Took a while for my nose to shut down.

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