Don’t smoke, but the government trusts us with the cheese?
OPINION: I will not live forever. I feel both disappointed and liberated by this. Immortality sounds good, but an infinite life would not have the urgency of death.
Some of us will live longer than others. Our gender, race, size and amount of processed cheese we consume are all factors that statistically contribute to the length of our allotted years.
And I love the processed cheese. It’s a key ingredient in many of my favorite foods, as well as a great source of coronary heart disease. It’s also, wait for it, addicting.
Cheese contains a protein called casein, released by lactating mammals to reward nursing infants. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and gives us a nice little kick.
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Cheese is comfort food, and now you know why. Which probably isn’t information you wanted, but explains why cheddar cheese disappears from a platter faster than celery sticks.
It also helps to explain why one third of all deaths in this country are caused by cardiovascular disease.
In comparison, smoking is benign, carrying only one 5,000 of us every year, directly or indirectly.
I don’t want to put the blame entirely on the moldy cheese feet. We are surrounded by excess dietary fat. Temptation is everywhere, from golden arches to overcooked sausage rolls from the gas station.
We understand that the cost of each burger is more than the few dollars we give to acquire one.
And as adults, we expect to be able to decide for ourselves how much risk we are willing to take for the reward that indulgence brings. This applies to almost all human activity, from an occasional connection to riding a motorcycle.
However, we are living in an increasing infantile age. The assumption that we have the competence to decide for ourselves the appropriate level of risk has long been abandoned, not only by those who govern us, but by many subjects.
The restrictions on our ability to enjoy cigarettes are a prime example.
Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall presented the state’s new hammer on smokers last week.
If this plan comes to fruition, from 2022 it will be illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone born after a certain date, assumed to be 2008. Forever.
So, if you were born in 2010, you will be denied the illicit rite of passage involved in making your way through that first package of Benson & Hedges.
Curiously, the minister tries to justify this draconian strategy by reference to the Treaty. According to the ministry, âthe right not to smoke is enshrined in Te Tiriti o Waitangiâ.
To substantiate this claim, the ministry emphasizes the protection of taonga in the second article and asserts that welfare is a treasure as envisioned by those who signed the 1840 document.
May be. Looks like we’re asking the word ‘taonga’ to cover a lot of ground here. An alternative interpretation could be that the guarantee of self-determination, tino rangatiratanga, applies to individuals as well as to the community.
Article 2 specifically refers to the right of individuals to their âexclusive and undisturbed possession of their lands and estates, forests, fisheries and other propertiesâ. If we define “properties” as generously as the state does “taonga”, you can reverse the analysis.
This administration trivializes the importance of the Treaty in our constitutional provisions by invoking it to guarantee the legitimacy of a contentious objective.
At the center of the policy document, however, is the ideology: âThis action plan recognizes that smoking is not an individual problem. Smoking is a community problem and a social problem.
Respectfully, I disagree. Smoking, like eating cheese, is a personal choice. This has costs, but also rewards. The mistake that the Puritans who run this program make is their inability to understand that inhaling nicotine is pleasurable.
Yes, it is risky, but the existence of risk is not in itself a justification for exercising the coercive power of the state.
Smoking is prevalent among those who face the greatest challenges. For some, the comfort that tobacco provides can be a source of comfort in their lives. For me, in times of exceptional stress, smoking has been a means of self-medication.
The state has not taken on the benefit side of the cost-benefit equation. Nor has there been any work on the costs of taxing a popular and widely used drug underground.
Making cigarettes illegal will not stop their distribution or their accessibility, but only the means by which they are distributed and who will benefit from that activity. The new laws will have to be enforced with fines, penalties and, for the unrepentant, jail time.
You don’t need a task force to understand that those who will respond to this market opportunity will be those who are already on the margins of society and inevitably some of them will find themselves locked in a cage. The ban still hurts the poor.
After the close defeat of the cannabis referendum, the Prime Minister said: âI share the opinion of many that the idea that individuals are criminalized for possession is not something that I think most neo -Zeelands argue. “
Incredibly, this administration is aware that laws banning cannabis are harmful while also instituting similar anti-tobacco laws.
We now have a messianic regime that appears to believe it was anointed by fate to save Aotearoa from Covid, guns and hate speech. Why shouldn’t they also save the unfortunate, the uninformed and the ignorant from the perils of tobacco?
The right of agency, to choose, the taonga of self-determination, for its part, should be restricted to those who are best able to exercise it: common smokers and connoisseurs of gouda from Thorndon and Herne Bay.
– Damien Grant is an Auckland-based business owner. He writes from a libertarian perspective and is a member of the Taxpayers Union but not of a political party.