This year has been absurd in so many ways, we should embrace the madness


OPINION: The last column of a year is tricky. I am so finished with 2021, to dwell on it has little appeal. My gaze back embraces rather the absurd. It starts with the end, the decision to ban anyone aged 14 and under from smoking tobacco from 2023.

Now I have no moral authority to say anything about smoking or most other vices.

Do what you need to do is my core philosophy of how people choose to navigate their lives. Don’t hurt others. And accept the consequences of your choices. So if smoking or some other social evil is your thing, so be it, I’m not judging. Not able to.

And if abstinence and a healthy lifestyle are your choice, take advantage of your time. You have my respect, please don’t ask me to join us.

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I quit smoking because I just want to rest from them. I also broke a contract with my wife, Paula, to resign. She is also Chief Justice of the Johansson Supreme Court, so the court’s hostility weighed heavily on me. So on New Year’s Day once again in the breach.

After a few years of being out of work, working in the hive allowed me to start over. It is also over the course of a quiet cigarette, it must be said, that some inspired choices were made. But now, a year after leaving the building, I have no more excuses.

So, I’m an imperfect messenger, but I still think Minister Ayesha Verrall’s ban won’t work. The ban never does. By participating in the vaping negotiation last quarter, I came to understand some things. Based on the data, the price was not lowering Maori and Pasifika smoking rates, they had leveled off. Smokeless 2025 was impractical on the wider smoking decrease curves that I have seen.

Two-thirds of this government also wanted to legalize cannabis. They were right in principle, the ban did not work, but on execution. It wouldn’t have helped with Smokefree 2025, however.

An even more absurd regulatory idea that I remember was to require vapers to be quarantined in the same areas as cigarette smokers, even though there was no evidence that passive smoking from a cloud of smoke. vaping was anything but boring. The policy was supposed to steer people away from the most harmful product, cigarettes, and switch to obviously less harmful vaping.

Instead, the absurd logic of the policy amounted to giving methadone to recovering heroin addicts, but telling them they could only take it in an opium den. The hand brake was applied to this idea.

The fastest growing commodity that was smuggled into New Zealand at the time was tobacco, which is increasingly costing the taxpayer in police costs. The price had this effect. By increasing excise taxes, the state unwittingly created a black market in tobacco.

Associate Minister of <a class=Health Ayesha Verrall.” style=”width:100%;display:inline-block”/>

ROBERT KITCHIN / Tips

Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall.

These market participants will be happy with Minister Verrall’s new ban policy, it will be good for business, although they probably want it to go further. After all, we humans have enjoyed tobacco since before 1000 BC, so black traders have time and human behavior on their side.

The National Party’s absurd sense of opposition policy both thrilled and dismayed in equal measure this year. Even when they were good, they looked terrible. The honorable exception was Dr. Shane Reti, who remained determined, diligent, loyal, serious and dignified. Still, if you got a dollar every time you heard a National Party MP swear loyalty to Judith Collins, inflation wouldn’t be a problem. You would have held up.

In the end, Lady Macbeth, a White Knight, a Black Prince, and a supporting cast managed to push National over the brink and then pull him out. Now, they’ve turned a page, just like that. Chaos, what chaos? Never happened. Bring ’23.

But leading is not easy. Just ask the young leaders of School Strike 4 Climate in Auckland. They fired for having occupied “a racist space dominated by white people”, and only then could they begin to decolonize. During this time, the planet burned down.

So like Greta Thunberg said, blah blah blah to it all. Which could, in turn, also be said during another big (in) climate action, the cycle bridge announced and then quickly killed. One way or another, over $ 50 million of taxpayer dollars has been spent on nothing to change the climate or the congestion.

The new traffic light system has landed, but no part of the country has been given an appropriate color for the system’s own criteria to decide them. This at first glance is absurd and thanks to the cosmos our real traffic light system doesn’t work that way.

Shakespeare knew that to reduce something to absurdity is to reduce it to nothing and go away, free and happy. He also knew that the spirit is needed when the state becomes too powerful or when we care too unnecessarily about our souls.

This year is absurd in many ways that this break is the time for you to walk free and joyful, away from it all. And for other flawed people like me, don’t feel guilty about taking advantage of it.

Jon Johansson is a Wellington-based communications consultant.


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