Not only are nanny state laws illiberal and infantilising for adults, they often overlook better solutions. Nowhere is this clearer than with government anti-smoking policies.
North Sydney Councillors have unanimously voted to ban smoking in their CBD. Not content with prohibiting adults from engaging in a lawful activity, councillors also indicated they wish to extend the ban to cover vaping.
They are ignoring that vaping has proven effective at rapidly reducing smoking rates in the UK and US. By removing harmful substances and leaving the nicotine, e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco. But despite being an effective harm reduction tool, nicotine vaping remains illegal in Australia.
Governments say they want people to stop smoking. However, their smoking cessation strategies punish smokers instead of assisting them in quitting.
North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson echoed this thinking when she said, “…this is about non-smokers tonight. Smokers have been considered over the decades.”
A stroll through the excessively extravagant recent history of smoking legislation shows just how lavishly smokers have been ‘considered.’
Tobacco advertising was banned in 1976. Continued tax increases and excise rates mean Australia now has the most expensive cigarettes in the world. Cigarette packaging has gone from vibrant colours to graphic health warnings, to a dreary plain olive green.
There are smoking bans in government buildings, shopping centres, sporting grounds, pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Further, all this ‘consideration’ has caused unintended consequences. Plain packaging has been a boon for the illegal tobacco trade as counterfeiting becomes easier and packets are significantly cheaper.
These illegal products not only fund human trafficking and terrorism but avoid the quality controls of regulated tobacco products.
Everyone who smokes knows it is bad for them. But the decline in smoking rates has stagnated since 2013.
E-cigarettes are largely flavoured compounds, the ‘exhaust’ of which are tiny amounts of nicotine dispersed into the air in water vapour that evaporates within 10-15 seconds. What the government has banned is essentially lolly-flavoured steam.
There is a growing argument that if we really want to help people quit, we should explore the potential benefits of vaping. But we need to overcome the heavy-handed, nanny state tactics that are intent on shutting off that path.
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