I’m supportive of the government’s move to end smoking in prisons. I think the real winners will actually be the two thirds of prisoners who smoke. They will be forced to break their addiction. I don’t think there’s any serious justification for concerns that banning smokes could lead to more trouble in jails or that the prospect of not getting any ciggies will be enough to deter crime (after all, there are many other great things that one misses out on in jail already).
But it’s disappointing that Corrections didn’t even bother to consult with the union first. A good employer should always consult with the union over an issue that could potentially have a big impact on the workers.
On the topic of tackling smoking, I didn’t really think that putting up the tobacco excise tax should have been the government’s first option. Simply putting the up the price punishes addicts and their families, there should be some non-financial ways to disincentivise smoking without taking money out of the pockets of the poor.
The suggestions by Jeffrey Wigand warrant more examination – particularly the ideas of removing branding from packaging, forcing companies to detail the ingredients, and (most effective of all I would reckon) removing the taste improving additives.
Getting rid of the retail displays also needs to happen – is Tariana Turia still working on that or has she given up?
As suggested by Zet last year and Peter Williams yesterday, phasing out imports and domestic commercial production could be another tool. People should still be allowed to grow tobacco for personal use (along with other plants).
On a side note, while researching this I saw an article on pig blood being used in cigarette filters. That should be a worry to Jewish and Muslim smokers. Interestingly, the Indian Mutiny started because of a rumor that new bullet cartridges (which were ripped open with the teeth) were greased with pig and cow fat – using them would have violated the soldiers’ religious convictions.