Tobacco taxes, poverty and organised crime


Tobacco taxes, poverty and organised crime

   Scott Morrison PM  

Bill Shorten Opposition leader

Richard Dinatale leader of the Greens

While nobody would argue that smoking is healthy or that it shouldn’t be discouraged, the entire Australian federal parliament is guilty of the unintended and horrendous consequences of the current “tax them till death” policy. Australia’s approach to this issue not only makes us the laughing stock of the world but also causes massive harm to our own society. Various political parties and groups have factored in to projected revenues these draconian tax levels.

The hypocrisy is evident to anyone with half a brain. Are “Quit Smoking” aids free? Of course not!

The Negative consequences of this stupid policy

There are many people, who cannot or will not (for various reasons) quit. Quite often these people are amongst the poorest in our community. This reads as “children without shoes or enough to eat.”

Tobacco products are so expensive in Oz that smokers drag their fags until the very end, thus consuming more tar and poisons. The mentally ill tend to smoke and it is always much harder for them to quit than for the general population. My own sister suffers from bipolar type 1, is a pensioner and one of her doctors told her not to try to quit as it would increase her stress levels and thus her illness. I, myself suffer from severe depression and OCD. I can’t see a way to quitting either.

Organised crime is laughing all the way to the bank. This policy is expanding and enabling the reach of organised crime networks. Tobacco is now more expensive than marijuana or ice. Troubled youth, who may have previously resorted to smoking are now taking the drug ice, which is far more dangerous for both the individual and society as a whole.

Alternatives

There are many ways to discourage smoking without targeting the extremely vulnerable. It is possible to set an age for purchase of smoking products (demanding ID) and raising it every year. That should assist in keeping the young from the evil habit. Progressive reductions in public areas where smoking is allowed can also help.

An example of a sensible tobacco policy that I am familiar with, springs to mind. In Taiwan the rate of smoking amongst the young is much lower than that in Oz. Their campaigns against smoking have become a cultural norm. Yet they do not target the vulnerable sections of their society such as the hopelessly addicted elderly, the mentally ill (my brother-in-law in Taiwan is battling schizophrenia and he smokes and is a low income earner).

The Future.

Will any of our parliamentary leaders have the courage to try to solve this problem and set tobacco taxes at reasonable and sensible levels? I can only hope but I doubt it! Australia is heading for third world status in a rush in all areas but one; tobacco prices

Australia, world’s highest tobacco taxes.


Australia now has, almost certainly, the highest tobacco prices in the entire world. While no one is suggesting that smoking is healthy or not a health risk there are many factors at play here. The Australian government is evidently intent on making poorer people choose between smoking and eating. Unfortunately there will be considerable numbers of people who continue to smoke while their children go hungry and without shoes. I am sure that organised crime is switching its attention from indian hemp and other soft drugs to tobacco. The government is obviously oblivious to these considerations.

Then there are the mentally ill. The vast majority of these people smoke and find it impossible to quit without exacerbating their illness. These are also people who tend to be very low income earners or dependent on welfare. The social consequences of massively higher tobacco taxes has obviously not been considered by the Australian government. From increased crime to greater levels of psychiatric disturbance in the community the dire results of these thoughtless snap decisions are growing in the dark.

There is little evidence that financially destroying smokers causes greater numbers to quit. Other countries (such as Taiwan) that are increasingly banning smoking in public areas, yet do not find it necessary to hugely raise tobacco taxes, would seem to have at least as high, if not a higher, rate of quitters.

Lastly, it is self evident that the Australian government is hypocritical about smoking. On the one hand they are demanding that smokers quit or face utter poverty, so say for concern about their health. Yet on the other hand the government certainly does not want people to live much beyond the retirement age. I for one do want to live long enough to get dementia and be plonked in a nursing home (although I suspect that governments of the future will just give such people lethal injections). It may be cute to be trendy but the Australian government has now crossed the bounds of logic and good sense. Unfortunately, the other political groups are not at all concerned about this. This dictatorial and unwise attitude thus cannot be stopped at the ballot box.