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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.

I’ve voted. Did a postal vote and now I have more time for sitting around and playing Far Cry 2, a game that, whilst good, does feel a little bit racist. Having already done my bit for the country, I have already made my choice for next year. That being the party that sends me the least amount of bumpf in the post.

I have had 100s of different sized multi-coloured bits of paper pushed through my letter box. All of them addressed to me personally, or to me and my partner that suggests they really do think about me. Often these envelopes/pamphlets/leaflets/tattooed cats have ended up waiting for me as I come down the stairs at half 7 in the morning. This morning I had one from the Liberal Democrats wishing me a good morning. How this has gone down in a household that’s woken up to the news that everyone has woken up next to a dead body is unclear. Who the poor sod is that has to get up at the arse end of the morning to push this soon to be confetti through my letter box is also unclear. Suffice to it’s got to a point where I’m genuinely glad the election finishes tonight. More so when you consider that, as I live in a Victorian house with five flats and one letter box, my bumpf is just the tip of the iceberg of shit that lies on our communal post table. I should add that one of my neighbours has taken to ripping up some of the leaflets they receive and leaving the shards in a tidy pile next to our unspoiled mass of paper. He did this most recently with a leaflet from the UKIP. Whether this was an attempt by the neighbour to perform some form of dirty protest or just their attempt at a stern warning to any UKIP supporters they feel they may be living with, I just don’t know. Maybe they heard me playing Far Cry 2.

As I’ve said before, I’m quite glad the election is soon to be over. I’ve noted a shift in the public conscience which I only ever associate with football league. Pubs, offices and taxi drivers are filled with the support of one party and the shaming of the other. I hear genuine anger spill out of the mouths of businessmen. Poisoned vitriol that could be used as a chemical weapon aimed squarely their 86 year old gran because she said Cameron looks good in a suit. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve heard political discussions where neither participant has dropped even a hint of where their political proclivities lie. Maybe it’s because of the aforementioned vitriol we think we’re going to receive. Either way, conversations will run no further than:


‘Bunch of wankers’

‘Yeah. Tories?’

‘Posh wankers.’

‘Yeah. True. Lib dems?’

‘Posh wankers who eat musili.’

‘Yeah. I hear you. What about the other parties?’

‘F**k off.’

‘So, are you going to be voting then?’

‘Of course. You?’



And so on until you die or find a repeat of Glee to watch instead.

Come tomorrow the offices of the country will be filled with people who feel like they themselves have claimed the victory of party most people voted for because it menat not having to put up with the other one. Like football supporters themselves, they will walk in, chest puffed out, chin held high and giving two fingers to the loser who voted for the other side. Conversations will consist of ‘us’ and ‘them’, i.e. ‘The problem with you lot is you were wankers. Now with us, we were wankers but wankers where you know where you were’. Then ‘us’ and ‘them’ will make peace when they realise Ted in accounts voted for the other party and both will skip merrily down the corridor to quote bits of satirical dialogue they heard on the Alternative Election Night on Channel 4.

Still, I can moan and pick apart the elections as much as I won’t, but I’m not David Mitchell and Jimmy Carr and I’m not getting paid so I’ll wind it up. At eth end of the day, truthfully, the election is one of the few experiences we can share as a country and, unlike the football league, it doesn’t involve getting drunk in pubs, shivving someone in an alleyway and throwing up on the streets. So it can’t be all that bad.