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David Hayward
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This is only MY opinion, some of which is tongue in cheek.

The smoking issue is nothing more than the government and anti smoking groups having their cake and eating it while simultaneously biting the hand that feeds them which in my view amounts to nothing more than discrimination and hypocrisy. I have also noticed that racism is the latest tool being employed with subtlety so it is only a matter of time before the Treaty of Waitangi is wheeled out against smokers and tobacco companies.

Over the years I have become sceptical in regards to the extent of the health issue being implied by the government and anti smoking groups at the information they wield and the true burden on society generated by smoking when stacked up against the food, alcohol and drug industries.
Of these four industries tobacco appears to be the lowest percentage, about 25% consumers which through the tobacco excise tax, funds the public health system in New Zealand (to my understanding ). 
According to literature and paraphernalia published by the government and anti smoking groups, smoking is the cause for all cancers, gangrene, etc. and the list goes on to also include graphic pictorials on cigarette packaging with warnings. I have looked for warnings of a similar nature on alcohol and food packaging and to date have found none that compare with that of the tobacco industry products, yet the sugars in these products can turn to fat in the veins which can change to plaque and eventually cancer, not to mention the effects of obesity and diabetes, also we should not forget which products fill the emergency rooms of hospitals on weekends and public holidays in this country.  Where is the equality in regards to these harmful products and their equally devastating contribution to the public health system?

The excuse of ‘health reasons or concerns’ does not wash with me as I see it as small group in society whom are being exploited and taken advantage of for partaking in a product that is legal in this country whereas other legal and illegal products do not get the same consideration or venom applied.
The government and anti smoking groups have also made the point that smokers on average, die approximately 14 years before non smokers. I would have thought that the government would be happy with this statistic, given that as 25% of New Zealanders smoke, a quarter of the baby boomer problem is automatically sorted in regards to retirement therefore representing a savings to the government. All things being equal, where is the non smoking populations contribution, the same place as the non smokers effort to the public health system…… found wanting but believing that ‘they’ pay for the health system not the burdensome smokers.

 
The government in power at the moment was clever in flicking the smoking issue to one of it’s smaller indigenous coalition partner’s therefore diverting attention from itself and enabling a race based foray onto the tobacco industry issue, at the same time reaping the benefits of the excise tax and the proposed tax hikes gained by the minority party, with no adverse repercussions on the major coalition partner, under the guise of making New Zealand smoke free by 2025. The higher the excise tax, the more funds available to the public health sector to cover increasing costs and the higher the contribution made to the consolidated fund.
This is where the convenience of an indigenous challenge is helpful to the government, by using the ‘my people’ argument there is the possibility of entering the Treaty of Waitangi as another weapon in the anti smoking argument. This argument is better to come from the indigenous ’my people’ coalition partner than from the main non ’my people’ coalition government
There is one indigenous party leader whom appeared on national tv proclaiming he was there only for ‘my people’ and their issues alone, he has since jumped on the smoking band wagon and has decided he knows what’s best for and speaks for pakeha and non my people as well.
(The references to ‘my people’ that I have mentioned is what the indigenous parties in this country refer to quite frequently regarding their constituents, it is not me being a smart ass but you get the idea).

Personally I can not see New Zealand being smoke free by 2025. You only have to look at the cannabis industry where consumers of that product are estimated to be at least three times that of the tobacco smokers and everyone knows what joys prohibition brings to the party too.
  
In the last few decades I have heard and read a great deal about the dangers of smoking and when I started the information was not available as it now currently is. My decision to smoke is mine alone and a choice I continue to make even after learning about the effects of smoking in latter years albeit addiction could also be a contributing factor to this choice but a person will only quit if they really want to kick the habit. To pressure someone against their will while participating in an activity that is legal will only increase resistance, it’s human nature. Quite simply, the continued harping on by the government and anti smoking groups, I now find on par with those of door knocking, communication, power and religious groups(uninvited).
I will admit that the price increases over the years have effected my smoking slightly. I will be left with two alternatives should tobacco be out of my price range in the future. I would source the product elsewhere or grow my own, which in turn will cut the government out of their ‘lucrative cut’.
I am also convinced that other smokers may choose cannabis as that would be the easier and cheaper option and New Zealand society does not afford cannabis the same stigma associated with tobacco, whether it be product or marketing recognition.  

I see the plain packaging matter as an inconvenience to all those associated with smoking and a joke. 
Maybe the government could enlighten New Zealanders as to the effectiveness of plain packaging in the cannabis industry.
Plain packaging will have no effect on my smoking habit, just as pictorial warnings on packets did not either.
Plain packaging does raise an interesting issue though. To me, plain packaging is just that. Nothing on the packet, no pictures, no wording, no warnings. To place anything on plain packaging apart from what the product is in plain writing would defeat the purpose.
For the New Zealand government to legislate this policy based on “health” grounds. The government would have to accept that all products that hint or can be linked to health issues would have to come under the same criteria to avoid discrimination of a particular product or its brand. The government would also have to consider that to implement this regime could also effect New Zealand’s branding image of a safe, clean, green destination and/or indigenous motifs used in the saleability and promotion of it’s products and New Zealand to visitors as well as exports.

I agree that there should be restrictions around tobacco. I have no issue with not smoking in public buildings, bars, restaurants, work places, public transport and the like.
Information from government and anti smoking groups is that harmful chemicals are added to tobacco products to aid in addiction, one would think the answer was simple on this matter. It would make sense that if the addiction was taken out you would be left with taste, if a consumable product does not taste good, are you going to continue consuming?
Programs and support for the cessation of smoking is also a benefit for those which choose to quit and readily available information regarding the unbiased ‘facts’, both pro’s and con’s, so as an individual can make an ‘informed’ decision. 
Age restriction. I believe 18 is the appropriate age for smoking should one choose to smoke. At 18 an individual can vote and is deemed an adult, the government can also send this individual off to defend the freedoms that democracy provides New Zealanders, one such freedom is choice.
I do not deny non smokers the freedom of choice. Quit trampling all over mine.

At the end of the day the ‘individual’ makes the informed ‘choice’.

Time for a smoke (menthol green, not ‘my people’ green).   
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Jo Dalziel's profile photo
 
Nicely said mate!! Time the world got to hear what really happens!!
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