Over the last couple of days the new laws have been proposed in Australia and if they come to pass, cigarette companies will have to promote their cigarettes in olive green boxes with some form of reminder of the horrific damage those little things can do.
“We want to make sure that the glamour that might have been attached to smoking in the past is dead and gone,” the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, said a couple of days ago. “Cigarette packs will now only show the death and disease that can come from smoking. The new packs have been designed to have the lowest appeal to smokers and to make clear the terrible effects that smoking can have on your health.”
In a way, they look like the front cover to a series of Stephen King novels.
So, anyway, I’m bracing myself for the inevitable public media battle that happened round about the time the UK began preparations for the smoking ban in all pubs and restaurants. What I’m talking about is the two factions of anti and pro setting up their camps, waiting patiently for dawn and then beginning their assault of hyperbole and conjecture against each other. And it is so very very boring.
‘We are smokers!’ cry the pro-league, ‘Everyone is entitled to live free and smoke hard. It is our right to smoke. To take away that right blah blah cough weeze figures and facts.’
‘We’re non-smokers!’ shout the anti-league, ‘Everyone is entitled to live free and live hard. We want smoking banned. Blah blah let’s go jogging blah!’
Both parties managing to cancel out each others arguments by saying that the very people they oppose have the right to do whatever they want to do.
And then you have the other party, the third one that no one really listens to…
‘Well, they should save the money and just ban it out right. That would help the problem.’
Well, yeah, like prohibition. That worked well.
Is there fundamentally wrong with shaming people into not doing something? Maybe. It could be argued that people should be allowed to make their own choices, catch their own diseases etc, but then you open the gates for the nanny state protesters and then we have to run for cover. That’s four parties filling up every internet forum and newspaper letter page until mid-2012.
So how we can end all this fighting. Just ban alcohol. Watch how quickly smokers and non smokers join forces then. Oh yes, we can argue till the cows come home about smoking, but to take away our right to drink?! Well, that’s just insane!
The thing is, that nothing is going to change until, and I swear I’m not trolling, smoking is banned outright. People will still smoke, people will still not smoke and the two parties will continue to resent each other. Because, and let’s be honest about this, black tar heroin has been around for a while and that was in plain packaging way before cigarettes. Hell, it even has the disability of being banned! It’s kind of like a narcotic cash cow, like cigarettes.