Tobacco control is about control – not tobacco

Tobacco control is about control – not tobacco

Tobacco control has never been about protecting the health of smokers.

Not one policy – not a single one – that has ever pushed up the price of tobacco, restricted who can purchase tobacco, limited who can sell tobacco, abolished the right to advertise or even brand tobacco products, banned flavours of tobacco, and outlawed the use of tobacco in private or in public locations, or presence of certain people, has ever been designed, approved, or implemented with the well-being of smokers in mind.

Historically, this might have been more difficult to assert.

There’s an argument that can be made that making cigarettes more expensive makes them harder to buy, so less will be smoked, for example.

But nowadays, the barrel of “good intentions” is running low.

With the vast majority of annoying and tyrannical anti-tobacco brainfarts campaigned for and implemented, public health Nazis are left to pursue policies of diminishing returns. Diminishing returns make it increasingly hard to hide behind moral busybody-ism, as though that were a good excuse.

Thus, bubbling forth from the deepest, purest well of infringements-upon-personal-liberties-that-are-starting-to-look-like-something-Adolf-Eichmann-dreamt-up are three tobacco policies so moronic, so tyrannic, so far beyond the realm of sense that it is no longer possible to pretend that advocating for these policies bears any relation to any semblance of a desire to improve the lives of others.

Prison Smoking Bans

Smoking in all NSW prisons is set to be banned within 18 months after the state’s prison boss expressed his concern about the health effects lighting up in jails is having on staff and inmates. … Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin … wants the grounds of all NSW jails to be smoke-free environments.

What happens when you take a group of violent people with an 80% rate of mental health issues and disorders, lock them up in a cage, and take away their access to legal yet addictive drugs anywhere on the property – inside or out?

Nothing that makes their lives better.

Any smoker can tell you it will be just terrible for anyone involved.

This is perhaps the clearest example of the new class warfare at the heart of nanny statism – the bourgeois latte left handing down directives from Health Officials on High, demanding that the simplest pleasantry be banned in its entirety from the reach of people who are literally locked in cages. And it shall be for their own good.

New South Wales is one of the last states still treating prisoners like people in this regard. This is an absolute travesty.

Denying medical treatment to smokers

From Britain:

a healthy middle-aged man was told he could not have a ten-minute operation to cut a small benign growth off the side of his head, because of his habit.

Mr Merrett, 46, said: ‘I was told, in no uncertain terms, that unless I gave up smoking or signed up to a quitting clinic they would refuse to treat me. I was gobsmacked.’ He claims the doctor told him: ‘These directions are not mine. It’s not me refusing this treatment, it’s the NHS trust.’

Yes, tobacco consumption is creeping closer and closer to becoming legitimate grounds for denying medical treatment.

This is about attributing responsibility for health outcomes – so how about we attribute financial responsibility for health outcomes?

Let’s go over this slowly, for the newly-retired ANPHA lobbyists in the back row:

Tobacco related illness cost Federal and State governments $318.4 million in 2012-13 [pdf].

Tobacco excise raised somewhere between $6.7 and $8.5 billion dollars in 2013-14.

(Check those links, if you like – these are all government numbers)

This is what that imbalance looked like in 2004:

(This graph is proudly brought to you by the excellent Dr Julie Novak from her report ‘Nanny State Taxes: Soaking The Poor in 2012‘ [pdf])

Since 2004, costs have stayed roughly the same, while revenue has increased.

Never mind the $6.5 billion dollar subsidy the tobacco excise delivers to the government each and every financial year – once again the “cost” of tobacco “to” the health system is justified in singling out smokers as responsible for their own condition (somehow distinct from other groups that damage themselves such as the obese, athletes, reckless drivers).

The most important thing is to help smokers help themselves, right?

Nonsensical restrictions on E-cigarettes

There are two established problems with the consumption of tobacco; the health consequences of lighting a plant on fire and inhaling the smoke, and the addictive nature of nicotine.

E-cigarettes are a way to neatly sidestep the first issue whilst still addressing the second. An outstanding development in the fight to minimise the harms of tobacco consumption, you would think. A joy to each and every member of that moral, well-meaning pack of public health nazis in universities, labs, governments and parliaments the world over.


Who cares about smoker’s health?

What if someone sees someone else inhaling water vapour from something that looks vaguely like a cigarette?!

The Economist has put out an excellent review of the patent ridiculousness of the regulatory response to the transition of nicotine from analogue to digital, including some things we’ve written about before:

  • regulating e-cigarettes the same way as tobacco
  • banning the sale nicotinated cartridges for e-cigarettes, as the Australian government has done
  • restricting where e-cigarettes can be used, as though water vapour poses a health threat

Nicotine addiction is largely harmless if a user has a steady supply. This is solely about controlling how and where we are allowed to see smokers, or be seen to smoke. Based on this, we predict an increase in regulations preventing positive or neutral depictions of tobacco in TV, film, music, music videos, blogs, etc – functionally, the extension of the Tobacco Advertising Act to individuals.

In the end, what we can conclude from these barrel-scraping, market-destroying, choice-obliterating policy proposals is that the little tyrants who make them have a myriad of concerns about smokers, but zero concern for smokers.

To these people, the concept of a cigarette is worse than premature death. To these people, the very idea that someone else might enjoy a cigarette is worse than lung cancer.

The objectives of the long, slow march of tobacco control are clearer than ever.

This is not about smoking. This is not about health. This isn’t even about tobacco.

This is about control.

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3 thoughts on “Tobacco control is about control – not tobacco

  1. RAPetrie

    I rest my case.

  2. Jo-Ann Markowski

    I bought some of the e-cigarettes and was outraged that I could not buy the nicotine canisters for them. They do provide other canisters with the e-cigarettes but there is no information with the product that tells you what is in the canisters. I was told by the tobacconist that they were flavoured water but on further investigation (in the literature provided with the product) I found that they said they were not to used if you took anti-depressants. There is clearly some drug in this product that they are not disclosing. They should label what is in these e cigarette canisters. No doubt there is some drug to dumb the consumers down like fluoride in the water supply and it is probably worse than nicotine!

  3. Jo-Ann. I notice your concerns about the ingredients of e-liquid. Please visit my website and click on the FAQ section. This will expkain to you the e-liquid ingredients and where they are also found. is the site. Also there is no water like you would get from a tap. This could be dangerous so deionised water is used instead.

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