Whenever I see one of the “Not our Future” anti-smoking ads, this is what I think:
Add to this the increasing push to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, and I feel like banging my head against a wall. Now, i’m not a smoker myself, so outlawing the humble durry wouldn’t affect me in the slightest. Nor am I a rabid libertarian, ready to pounce on any supposed example of “nanny statism”. I’m a pragmatist – and I cannot stand the kind of contradictory logic that goes into a campaign like this. It is, at best, misleading – and, at worst, blatantly hypocritical.
- “Smoking is bad for your health!” Yes, it is – but so are countless other activities associated with modern life. Driving is dangerous. Skydiving is dangerous. Or, to take a few more pertinent examples, alcohol is dangerous. Fatty foods are dangerous. Should we strive to eliminate these as well?
- “Ah, but smoking is a burden on our healthcare system!” Yes, it is – but, once again, so are countless other activities associated with modern life. The cost of obesity on our healthcare system is estimated at $500 million per year, whilst alcohol-related costs in 2005/2006 totalled $343 million. Compared with this, smoking costs (which are greatly exagerrated, and partially recouped through targeted taxation) seem far less devastating.
- “Okay… but second-hand smoking kills!” Yes, this is true. It is also true that nobody ever died from second-hand drinking. But the logical deduction from this problem is simply that we must strive to minimise second-hand smoke inhalation. And the least intrusive method of doing this is to provide smoke-free environments for non-smokers and reserved areas for smokers. It does NOT imply a need to ban smoking altogether. A logical analogy would be to respond to drink-driving by banning drinking.
- “Yeah… but what about all those nasty cigarette butts? They’re disgusting!” I agree. In fact, when I see a smoker carelessly discarding a cigarette butt, I quite enjoy picking it up, chasing them down, and saying “excuse me? I think you dropped this.” But again, by logical deduction, we should be targeting the problem of discarded cigarette butts rather than smoking itself. Unless we want to get rid of discarded beer bottles by banning drinking?
About the only argument that can be used to differentiate smoking from alcohol and fatty foods is that the former cannot be safely enjoyed in moderation. Yeah, well… neither can American Idol.
Hypocrisy. Not our future.