No More Winnie Blues.
"Winston - tastes good like a cigarette should."
So what do you think of the coalition’s decision to cancel Smokefree measures intended to stop young people, including an over representation of Māori, from taking up smoking? Enabling them to use the tax revenue to give other people a tax cut?
David Cormack summed it up well:
It seems not only insane, but almost comically unbelievable. Like something a pantomime villain would propose before getting their comeuppance. But it’s real. I know I should probably stop being surprised by just how malignant this new government is, but this wasn’t something I was expecting.
You can read all about my own experiences stopping smoking if you’d like. The following post from New Years Day was previously paywalled, but I’ve removed that so you can read all of it:
So yeah, one of the lesser known changes the new coalition has announced is cancelling Smokefree initiatives. I say lesser known because I can’t recall it being discussed during the campaign, at all. Can you? Pretty sure I don’t remember this billboard:
But sure enough there was a line in the New Zealand First (NZF) manifesto from before the election indicating what they planned to do:
“Support ASH (Action for Smokefree 2025) in their policy to divert tobacco and cigarette smokers to much safer products, as in Japan, and stop attacking the low-income with exorbitant taxes ($2 billion) whilst claiming to support Smoke-Free by 2025.”
I thought to myself - hmm, surely the changes the government has announced aren’t supported by ASH, an organisation that has always taken a hardline on reducing smoking. That can’t be right, can it? They won’t welcome this?
Turns out they don’t:
So not actually supporting the objectives of ASH, as the manifesto pretends. But don’t worry folks according to NZF smoking isn’t actually all that bad.
You know how people often use the example of a cup of coffee? For example something like - for not much more than the price of a cup of coffee per month you could subscribe to this newsletter. Well it turns out that you really should go for the newsletter - for the sake of your health!
Because according to the scientists over in NZF land, and this is a direct quote from their manifesto: “NZ First supports age-appropriate access to nicotine, which in adults, is generally as safe as caffeine is.”
So that was news to me! To be fair NZF are advocating that nicotine should be administered by vape rather than smoking a cigarette, but even so I’d like to know what the heck they are putting in their coffee to make it comparable to inhaling nicotine by whatever mechanism.
According to NZF vaping is the solution to the problem, which rather ignores the fact that many young people are taking up vaping having never smoked cigarettes.
This is what they have to say: “NZ First fully supports a Smokefree New Zealand but we must split nicotine away from harmful smoking. That’s what vaping has done. Vaping has us seriously on track to become smoke free far quicker than punitive taxes ever achieved.”
That sounds like another completely false claim. Smoking rates have declined in Aotearoa due to education, making cigarettes increasingly unaffordable by taxing them to fund the associated healthcare costs, and through programmes like Smokefree. All of which have been around long before vaping.