Tobacco taxes, poverty and organised crime
Bill Shorten Opposition leader
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.
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).
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