The previous Australian government introduced further, massive taxes on tobacco and these taxes have hypocritically been retained and extended by the present government because of its love for the almighty dollar. The approach of savagely punishing smokers financially along with the scare/shock campaigns has been an abject failure. During the last year for which statistics are available smoking rates actually increased for the first time in a number of years. Increasing the value or cost of an item can actually make it appear more desirable.
Evidently, the Australian government has paid little attention to the failure of the prohibition (alcohol) experiment in the U.S. in the thirties. The ridiculously expensive tobacco taxes will have a number of dire social consequences. The number of poor people and their children who do not have adequate nutrition or clothing will increase. Organised crime will have a field day. According to reports up to 13% of the tobacco market is already controlled by crime syndicates. In the past crimes such as burglaries, holdups and personal robberies were largely associated with illegal drug users. Now they will also be associated with tobacco users.
The war on “illegal” drugs has failed. It would seem that legalisation may be the only way to reduce crime and put criminal syndicates out of business. The Australian government has taken the opposite approach and now wants to add tobacco to the list of drugs fuelling crime and social chaos.
The amount of money collected in tobacco taxes is about double that used to fund the health system. If smokers were to stop smoking, for even a month, what massive new tax would the government then introduce on something else? There are more intelligent and effective ways to discourage smoking than that taken by the Australian government. However, they have one huge disadvantage. They don’t bring in billions of dollars!