Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Smoking Gun

A man who sexually assaulted a woman in Melbourne then forced-marched her to a nearby service station to buy cigarettes (see story here). That's where he made his big mistake, of course. These days courts seem to hand out ridiculously lenient sentences, so if the assault had been all he did to her, he might have been walking the streets again in 18 months or so. But forcing her to buy cigarettes? Surely in this day and age of unbridled smoking antagonism, that's Attempted Murder! Forget prison, let's just hang him now!

Today some of the other Australian States caught up to Tasmania and banned smoking in bars, pubs, etc. In a month or two, smoking in all indoor areas, and most outdoor areas, will be completely banned. I grew up a vehement anti-smoker, took it up at 28, quit at 34, took it up again at 38. I've always smoked 1 mg cigs, in the belief that smoking a whole packet in a day was the same as someone else smoking 2 or 3 or their 12 mg ones. According to doctors, I was wrong, and have the same chance of harm as them.

Smoking is addictive, and there's only one way to fix the problem for good. That's to stop the sale of cigarettes, period. The social consequences would be dire, crime would go through the roof until the jitters of being forced to go cold-turkey passed, and there would always be an underground of illegal tobacco growers, just as there is, and always will be, with marijuana. Publicly, the government says that smoking costs the nation a lot more in healthcare bills than the revenue from selling cigarettes raises, but I don't believe that for a minute. The bottom line is that governments are about money, and if there wasn't a profit from selling cigarettes, they would already have been banned.

Who do you believe? I, for one, believe nobody on the cigarette issue, from the Government to the Quit campaigners to the Doctors of the 50's who told us all how much they recommended Camels. Smoking is a curse, and like all curses, it will take a Witch Doctor to see it lifted.

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