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Plain Packaging of Cigarettes in Australia

Added on July 1, 2011
In Response to the Tobacco Companies’ Objection to Proposed Legislation for Plain Packaging of Cigarettes

NoNannyState.com.au is a new website initiated by Imperial Tobacco Australia Ltd to object against the Plain Packaging Legislation, that will force all cigarettes to look the same and be covered with health warnings for at least 75% of the package.

 

Their objections are as follows:

  1. the high taxes that the government collects from tobacco should give free reign to the tobacco companies to package as they wish
  2. smokers are over 18 and therefore should have the adult right to do as they please
  3. the same laws should apply to alcohol, but don’t

 

Regarding the 1st objection, it’s true that revenue raised in NSW in 2006/07 exceeded the cost of tobacco to society. The total social costs of smoking (both tangible and intangible) were about $8.4 billion whereas NSW tax revenues from tobacco abuse exceeded smoking-attributable expenditure by $208 million.

 

But just think for a minute what that first figure means.  In 2006-7 smokers cost our society more than $8 billion. How does one translate this figure to one that describes the real short and long-term cost to the individual and their family?  We know what it costs in terms of medical care, surgery & other treatments, palliative care, etc. But what does it mean in real terms to the family of the man who dies prematurely from lung cancer, to the mother who can’t lift her children due to emphysema, to the infant born prematurely and low in weight because her mother smoked heavily during pregnancy?  What does it mean to the life potential (and quality of life) of the teenager who started smoking socially at age 14 and now 5 years later spends a considerable portion of his income on supporting his addiction?  What difference does it make how much additional revenue the government raises, when no amount of money can justify these costs.

 

As for the 2nd objection, we all know that young people have easy access to tobacco long before their 18th birthday. But apart from that, the government legislates the behaviour of adults in almost every aspect of our lives. We choose governments according to how closely their values align with our own and we give governments permission to legislate adults’ behaviour. They legislate the speed at which we can drive, the age at which we can work for an income, the amount of tax we must pay the government to allow them to manage our country effectively.  We legislate where, when & how much alcohol we can drink. We legislate our marriage laws, our rights to enter and leave a country, how much to pay our employees. In fact one of the few things that is not legislated is how much damage we can do to ourselves by tobacco abuse and expect society to pay for.  So why shouldn’t the government take an extra step to protect people from themselves? Whether this is the best way to do this may be debated, but the right to do it is clear.

 

The 3rd objection is valid and I believe alcohol regulation could be better managed.  But the argument that tobacco should be less regulated because another industry is, does not hold water.

 

If you are a smoker and genuinely wish to cut back or stop smoking, you can get help at http://yourmindcoach.com.au/help/quit-smoking/

 



About Judith Lissing

Judith Lissing is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Wellness Coach, with 15 years experience in teaching stress management and meditation. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours in Immunology and a Masters degree in Public Health, both from the University of NSW. She is also an Associate Lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of NSW since 1999. Judith is trained in Wellness Coaching with Wellcoaches U.S. and holds a Diploma in Hypnotherapy. Prior to coaching professionally, Judith held a statewide management role with NSW Health working with all levels of staff across the health sector.




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