Friday, April 8, 2011

plain smokin'

I read yesterday about this:

... plain cigarette packaging that the Government wants to introduce.

This is what I think.

I quit smoking back in 1997, and I was never a really hard-core smoker anyway, but I do understand how hard it is to give the damn things up.
They have a stranglehold on your mind and body, and many people find it impossible to quit permanently.

I loathe smoking now. The smell is revolting, disgusting, and the merest whiff makes me feel sick and suffocated at the same time.

BUT -- although I wish no-one in the world smoked, I'm not going to tell people they can't. I don't want to live in a world where some 'Expert' decides what we can and can't do, for our own good.
Because, really, in the end we have to take responsibility for our own actions.
Everyone knows the dangers and risks of smoking. If they still do so, it's not out of ignorance.

I'm all for banning smoking in public places, because that affects everyone around the smoker. It is no longer just 'your right' that we're talking about here, it's the right of everyone around you not to have to breathe in that smoke.

But trying to force people into quitting isn't going to work.

You can put picture of corpses on the packets and people will keep smoking. You can charge $100 a packet, and people will keep smoking.
Someone will come up with cigarette cases, or a black market will open up, or folks will start growing their own, illegally.

Seriously -- you CAN NOT stop people from smoking if they're determined to.

And why the hell should we, anyway?

Who has the right to tell smokers that they can't smoke?

I have a strict no smoking rule in my house, and that's fine. When I visit my friends, who smoke, I don't insist they don't smoke while I'm there.
(In fact, out of respect for me, they always ask if I'd like to sit outside with them while they have a durrie.)

Should we continue educating people on the dangers of smoking? ABSOLUTELY.

Should we step up the campaign in schools? ABSOLUTELY. Because research shows that if you haven't started by the time you're 18-20, the chances are good that you never will.

Should we be subsidising smokers with health complications directly due to smoking? Hmmm. I don't know about this. I lean towards no.

Should our government be interfering in our lives to this extent? NO. It's not like they don't have better things to do.

And while I'm no fan of Big Tobacco, who after all are profiteering from an addiction, I also believe that no government has the right to interfere in the lives of ordinary people to this degree.
I hate that we're becoming such a Nanny Country.

There's an excellent video here, from an episode of The Gruen Transfer late last year.

I hope you'll take a couple of minutes to watch it, because a lot of angles on this issue are discussed and it's very interesting viewing.

Also -- I'd LOVE to hear what you think! Do you agree with plain packaging? Think it's a terrible idea? Tell us about it, in the comments.


  1. Agree completely, on all counts. I don't smoke, don't like to be around it, but that packaging is just over the top. Condescending. In fact, I find the current packaging in Australia with the blatant warnings to be condescending. I was taken aback when I saw that last month. What's the difference between this and putting pictures of corpses on Big Macs? Bottles of Coke? Tim Tams?

  2. That's exactly what I think, too, K. I had a small shock when you said TimTams too -- the horror of messing with delectable TimTams!!

  3. I don't think plain packaging and graphic pictures will make a difference.
    The pictures already don't (I know people who will walk up to the counter and ask for a package of 'smoking gives you cancer'. And dedicated smokers know their brands so they'll still be asking for them by name.
    I don't put public funding towards smoking related illnesses, because I consider them to be self-inflicted, but then, I've never been a smoker, so I'm biased there.

  4. I guess if I had a loved one dying of lung cancer, I might support medical funding, but right now, I think the money could be better spent.
    So true about the packaging -- people tend to make a joke of it rather than allow the images to change their behaviour.

  5. As another ex smoker, I completely agree with you. Plain packaging, horrific images and expensive prices are not going to stop people smoking. Tobacco addiction is right up there as a one of the big ones, changing the packet won't break that addiction. It took me 5 years to completely quite - I would start up again for a month or two, or have a social smoke when out with other smokers. Five years on, as much as I hate the small and taste, I still have to occasional craving for smoke, but I know that if I have just one drag, I'll be right back into it.

    I think education in late primary school and throughout high school is the key. Children need to learn that smoking won't make you "cool" as I thought it would. As with many things, prevention is the key.

  6. I agree that plain packaging etc won't stop smokers. They're addicted and can't stop. I agree that education will go a long way to making people aware of the dangers.
    But I also think that some people have a "smoking gene" that has nothing to do with peer pressure.
    My parents both smoked like chimneys, you'd think that at least one of us would also smoke. But none of us do.
    My first husband smoked, sometimes two packs a day. Both of our sons smoke, both daughters do not.
    I have friends who do not smoke. Their daughter does, yet none of her friends do. No peer pressure there...
    It's something to do with an addictive personality. Whatever it is that makes people become addicted; to smoking, drinking, gambling, drugs.
    THIS is what researchers should be looking into.

  7. That's an interesting point, River. I think you could be onto something there.

  8. if someone was driving recklessly and injured them selves we would still be all for saving their lives...
    I think the packaging now is sufficant enough....

  9. Oh, I certainly didn't mean we should just let them die, but there's good argument to say that taxpayers shouldn't be funding medical expenses for smokers. As I said, possibly I would change my mind on this, if it directly affected me.
    And for the record, I think drunk drivers and hoons should have to pay their own medical expenses.

  10. As a non-smoker, I don't want to look at that rank packaging either! It offends me as much as I think it would be ineffective in the fight against smoking!

    And also, I do think smoking is okay in pubs etc. I dunno. I feel sorry for the old guys getting a counter meal for lunch having to shuffle outside for a smoke ;)

  11. So who decides who gets medical help and who doesnt??

    Who decides that 100% of any given disease was caused by smoking??? No "expert" will...

    Would the no medical help be retroactive to cover former smokers???

    I paid taxes all my working life I have also had private health cover all my adult life.

    I can smoke a whole pack of cigarettes in a day yet still drive a car...unlike someone who has drunk a carton of beer....but the drunk driver causing an accident can get medical help but a smoker cant??? whats wrong with that picture??

    I am a smoker going through the throes of giving up...where would this leave me???

  12. Maree, you're right -- who DOES get to decide these things? and how do we know they got it right?
    I guess this is one reason why politicians stay right the hell away from this issue.


Hey, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I love to hear what you have to say even if you disagree with me. I have only one request -- please keep it polite.