Isn’t it about time we banned smoking?

In recent months, much has been written about the potentially harmful health effects of seemingly harmless household products such as Vegemite, Listerine and chocolate.

Chocolate, it appears, is very high in saturated fats, Vegemite; too high in salt, and Listerine, wait for it, can give you throat cancer.

The extensive media coverage of these ‘issues’ compelled the manufacturers of Listerine to take out full-page advertisments in the national press re-asserting the product’s health benefits, and more recently Coca-Cola has been compelled by the Food watchdog to take the same action by way of apologising for mis-leading the public regarding their product’s sugar content.

Now it might just be me, but I really don’t need a Government watchdog to insist that Coca-Cola spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to tell me that their product contains sugar.

Consider the following scenario.

Imagine, if tomorrow I decide to launch a product which has no health benefits whatsoever, contains a multitude of toxic chemicals, is designed to be inhaled by the consumer, contains a highly addictive substance and is more than likely to kill the consumer after regular usage.

Wouldn’t someone along the way insist that the product be removed from the shelves until such time as these adverse claims could be categorically disproven?

It seems that in the case of cigarettes, the opposite is allowed to continue. Why do we allow a product that continues to kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide to be made readily available on the streets – legally – purely to profit the manufacturers..??

In 2003 there were 15,511 smoking-related deaths in Australia.

That’s four people that die every day as a direct result of smoking. If my new product killed four people every day, I would be charged with murder.

Why do we continue to allow the tobacco industry to get away with the murder of thousands of Australians each year without anyone being held to account?

Sure there are many arguments about freedom of choice, however we refuse to allow people to legally end their lives via euthanasia, why should we allow people to kill themselves (and affect the health of inncocent others through passive smoking) to continue?

Isn’t there a compelling argument to call for the complete banning of this product that does absolutely nothing other than ultimately kill the consumer?

I once read a strategy that made perfect sense to me. Simply make it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone born on or after a certain date. Under this scenario – anyone buying cigarettes would be required to show ID to purchase them.

This would lead to a gradual phasing out of the prevalence of smoking – allowing those who currently smoke to do so – while making way for a future generation of non-smokers.

It may not be a perfect solution – there are bound to be kids who can obtain cigarettes from older friends or family members. But coupled with a strategy that makes it illegal to supply children born on, or after the “no smoking” birthdate would go along way to ridding this “product that kills” from future generations.

Choke on this:

– Tobacco use accounted for 7.8% of the total burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003.

– There were approximately 6,507 smoking -attributable deaths in NSW alone in 2004 , accounting for 18% of deaths from all causes among men and 10% of deaths from all causes among women.

– In NSW alone, there were 55,591 smoking-related hospital admissions in 2004 -2005.

– In 1998 – 99, the social costs of tobacco use in Australia were an estimated to be $21.1 billion, about 2.3% of the gross domestic product.

What say you?


28 Responses

  1. A couple of things:

    Aside from the fact that I am socially liberal (or libertarian – I’m not sure which is the correct term) – that is, I believe people should be able to do whatever they want as long as they don’t harm anyone else (so smokers should avoid inflicting passive smoking on others) – my main problem with your argument is prohibition never works

    “You can never make prohibition work. Aa href=””>As long as there are substantial numbers of people that want to use the product, there will be a supply forthcoming. What will happen is that the cost of the drug will go up in order to finance the illegal activities that are necessary to bring it to market.”

  2. I love the birthdate solution.

    And I tend to agree on prohibition – it does not work – just look at you and me, they try to prohibit being gay and it failed with us! 😉

  3. I agree that prohibition doesn’t work.

    However I think that the birthdate solution in some form has merit.

  4. Reb,

    Just make the habit to damn expensive and fine the hell out of those who wish to make others suffer….Are they not inadvertently blowing carcinogens into my lungs in pursuit of their buzz? Just one more reason universal health care will never work in my country….Why must the average citizen pay for the costs of somebody else’s “leisure” activity? Smoking, drinking and eating oh my…….

  5. However I think that the birthdate solution in some form has merit.

    We already have prohibition based on age, and it doesn’t work.

  6. I’m a dirty filthy 20 cigs a day fagger (that’s with a “ger” on the end) and I’m beginning to wonder if they shouldn’t just ban smoking. Honestly, smokers are now treated with such contempt by various by-laws etc that it’s plain insulting. A courageous government would restrict the maximum level of tar and nicotine in cigs to say 4mg (the max is now around 16mg) dropping over a period of say 4 years. They would also restrict the places where cigs were sold. Problem is, the taxes collected from ciggie sales is enormous.

  7. Is this an urban myth or is it true?

    Governments actually like people to smoke because:

    – they die earlier
    – the medical costs are less than the social security / pension costs
    – the taxes also offset the medical costs

    And so – by having people still smoking the government actual makes money.

    As I say, this may be a myth.

  8. Likewise James…sigh. Gave up for 4 months and then back on the dreaded ciggies again.

    How about: FREE patches instead of $25.00.

    How about the fact that cigarettes are the only item that you do not actually have to ENTER the supermarket to buy..see every Coles and Woolies, there is a sales point OUTSIDE the supermarkets.

    Agreed James..ban all cigs over 4mgs.

    Allow tobacco substitutes such as Herbal Life smokes which contain no nicotine (the addictive bit) to be freely sold.

  9. “We already have prohibition based on age, and it doesn’t work.”

    That’s because once you reach ‘smoking age” you’re then allowed to smoke.

    Under the proposal I read, no one would be allowed to supply the individual with cigarettes at all.

    For example, let’s say the date is going to be 2020. Then anyone born on say 1 Jan 2020 or anytime thereafter is not allowed to buy cigarettes, and any retailer, family member or friend could be prosecuted for supplying cigarettes to anyone born after that date.

    I reckon it’s a sound proposal, and is perhaps the only way we’ll ever see generational change in attitudes to smoking.

    Clearly, the shock and awe tactics of previous ‘health’ campaigns don’t work.

  10. joni, on April 14th, 2009 at 12:45 pm Said:

    Governments actually like people to smoke because:

    – they die earlier
    – the medical costs are less than the social security / pension costs
    – the taxes also offset the medical costs

    There was an economic ‘exercise’ undertaken some years ago that highlighted the economic gains that accrued from early deaths due to smoking. It certainly wasn’t commissioned by government and all governments of the day distanced themselves from the findings.

    As for:

    Just one more reason universal health care will never work in my country

    One is reminded of Ghandi:

    A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.

    Or if one doesn’t like those ‘foreigners’, try Hubert H. Humphrey a former Vice-President.

    the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

    No universal health care in the ‘richest’ nation on earth. Rich? Lol.

  11. Having kicked the smoking habit for around 2 years, I simply love to hear how cigarette companies are being fleeced of funds through courts in the US. One can only hope similar class actions will eventually be presented before courts here in Oz, in return for the cigarette companies placing ‘addictive’ substances, various poisons, including cyanide, in cigarettes, while denying such actions in the past. They now admit to doing so in an effort to expedite court proceedings.

    In the 90s, lines of trucks laden with tonnes of cigarettes made their way from western Europe, along the silk road, through Istanbul, destination, the new growing cigarette market of China, all contraband. Never exported by air, but by road, always. The brands were Rothmans, PallMall, Benson & Hedges. No small players. How did that happen? I will suggest it happened with the full knowledge of the cigarette companies, breaking into a whole new market being the Chinese middle class.
    Now the table has turned. Russian and Chinese cigarettes in ‘forged’ packaging are flooding western Europe.
    There are in the least 2 stores in the western Suburbs of Perth where I could purchase ‘contra’ cigs at between $6 and $7 for a 20s pack. Rothmans, State Express 555. I no longer have need for cigarettes.

  12. I started smoking when I was 11.

    I gave up “cold turkey” when I was 32.

    I craved cigarettes (on and off and to varying degrees) for nine years. (Sorry, OB, hang in there!)

    Nicotine is a most insidious drug as it immediately addicts the brain for craving more.

    It still astounds me… after all the education and advertising, that people still smoke…

    I watched my father die of emphysema (a cigarette contracted disease of the lungs), he drowned in his own body as his lungs were slowly consumed by his own bodily fluids.

    The last month of his life were morphine filled hours of an awful, throat rattling, search for air as he slowly, painfully died.

    As I tell people who smoke – I refuse to preach – if you want to slowly kill yourself – that’s your choice…

  13. Woof, has it been 2 years already?

    Scientists believe that, in addition to smoking–related processes, there must be other factors that cause emphysema in the general population since only 15 to 20 percent of smokers develop emphysema. The nature and role of these other factors in smokers’ emphysema are not yet clear.


    I guess the above means that 80% of smokers don’t develop the dreaded disease hence the following:

    “The destruction of elastin that occurs in emphysema is believed to result from an imbalance between two proteins in the lung––an enzyme called elastase which breaks down elastin, and AAT which inhibits elastase. In the normal individual, there is enough AAT to protect elastin so that abnormal elastin destruction does not occur. However, when there is a genetic deficiency of AAT, the activity of the elastase is not inhibited and elastin degradation occurs unchecked”.

  14. If prohibition doesn’t work, why are drugs illegal?

    Let people have their self-harm poison of choice, why only alcohol and ciggies? Give them the lot or ban the lot!

  15. Apparently our Government can’t afford the 6.5 billion shortfall in tax if cigarette’s were banned. I read that somewhere, and didn’t get the link.

    I smoke, but am taking the quit smoking pill that apparently reprograms receptors in your brain. I have cut down by 50%, and have deliberately gone out and left them at home. I still have cravings, so I must not be reprogrammed yet.

  16. I guess the above means that 80% of smokers don’t develop the dreaded disease hence the following:</i.

    nah, they get cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas, and acute myeloid leukemia.(US statistics)

    Make Smoking History:

    Tobacco smoking was responsible for 7.8% of the burden of disease and injury in Australia in 2003 (9.6% of the total burden in males and 5.8% in females). Lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and ischaemic heart disease accounted for over three-quarters of this burden.

    Apparently our Government can’t afford the 6.5 billion shortfall in tax

    The total social costs of tobacco use in 2004-05 amounted to $31.5 billion.

  17. Kitty, I don’t drink, or go out with bad men. If I stop I won’t have ant vice at all.

    It actually paints a disgusting picture, doesn’t it? I’ stopped for 4 years, never stopped craving during that time, but couldn’t stand the smell.

    I was sent to Melbourne for a weeks training, and was back to smoking a pack a day within the week.

  18. The common factor in those that have given up smoking but still crave smokes after years is the psychological aspect of smoking (IMO). It came up time and time again on this forum’s predecessor.

    I quit on 5th Sep 2002 and haven’t had cravings now for about 6 years – why? When you give up you MUST also treat the mental aspects, not just the physical. I used , but that is just one one of many that take this approach. Also mentioned previously is Alan Carr’s method:

    Each must find their own way, but I believe the mind is probably the most important part of this process.

  19. Bacchus, thanks for the links. I’ll visit them both.

  20. My pleasure Angel – Smokenders cost me money, but I reckon it’s saved me $thousands over the last 6 years 7 months, and taking care of the cravings was well worthwhile too – a fellow at work gave up by using other methods (Zyban) about 18 months before me, but was still experiencing cravings a couple of years after I’d had no more – He’s still not a smoker, but that was down to enormous willpower in the end (and smoking related cancer diagnosed in his family).

  21. ‘Woof, has it been 2 years already’ Angel

    Yep. Notice how I do not hassell re your smoking habit?
    All I say is, tough it out Angel. You can do it. Just think with all the money you save on cigs, you could easily be Vics version of Imelda Marcos (of shoes, that is).
    Why, you may also have enough to purchase the Geelong Football Club.

  22. Gee.

    New research suggests that if cigarettes were to increase in price, more people might consider giving them up.

    I guess the fact that they’re gonna kill you, still doesn’t seem to way heavily on some people…


  23. BTW,

    I smoked from the age of 16 through to my mid thirties, with various attempts at kicking the habit – sometimes successfully – during that time but inevitably taking it up again.

    At the peak, I was smoking two packs a day, which takes quite a concerted effort.

    I agree with Bacchus, that a lot of it is psychological (after one has recovered from the pyshiological addiction).

  24. Just adding a little to James of North Melbourne, on April 14th, 2009 at 12:42 pm re 4mg cigs being the maximum. Also what about a sliding scale..the milder the cheaper as an encouragement to quit or at least cut back.

    One thing that I was surprised (ie disgusted) to discover that non-nicotine cigarettes such as Honey Rose are Not Approved as a quitting measure as the powers that be decided that having a cigarette of any sort is bad, bad, bad. However, I have found that one does need a psychological thingy while the phone = a cigarette, a drinky-poo = a cigarette.

    Honey Rose allow you to go through the motions of smoking but as they contain no nicotine the receptors aren’t going sproing as per normal cigarettes.

    The downside is that Honey Rose are difficult to come by as per above because they’re not an approved Quit method. However they are available online from:

  25. “New research suggests that if cigarettes were to increase in price, more people might consider giving them up.”

    Yes, exactly what I suggested…..Seems “human nature” prevails again…..or as Legion put it, “black-and-white”.

  26. An interesting topic in itself..why prohibition doesn’t work but leads to a blackmarket. And this includes pricing things above the means of the average person.

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