A recent Customs report suggests that the New Zealand Government may lose up to $10,000,000 in revenue per year from a black market in tobacco as a consequence of raising taxes on both cigarettes and loose tobacco. The predictable Government reaction will be more restrictions against home growing and even more taxes, but this essay will argue that if the Government had any sense they’d drop the whole hubris-fuelled idea.
An example of how the Kiwi political class has more shit for brains than it does grey or white matter was provided by Nicky Wagner’s response to the report. She said:
“We’re monitoring it very closely, we’re intercepting [tobacco] the border, you may be aware that the Customs and Excise Act is changing in the New Year. That cuts the amount of growth for personal use from 15 kilograms down to 5kg… We’re attacking it on several different levels.”
So rather than accept that they may have made an error, or that the 40-year failure of the War on Drugs may have taught us anything, or that the failure of alcohol prohibition in America may have taught us anything, our politicians are just going to double down on pissing our taxmoney up the wall.
Tobacco prohibition, however gradually it might be brought about, is a sadistic idea dreamed up by morons.
Some might ask, given the evident physical dangers of smoking tobacco, how this can be.
The answer: tobacco is a mental health medicine. This is not generally understood by either doctors severely brainwashed into taking a physicalist perspective towards everything or by politicians who are generally either ignorant or indifferent to mental health and the people suffering from a lack of it.
It has long been noted that people who are hard done by and the majority of severely mentally ill people smoke something, almost always either tobacco or cannabis.
An article from the Journal of the American Medical Association points out that “individuals with mental illness smoke at rates approximately twice that of adults without mental disorders… and comprise more than half of nicotine-dependent smokers.”
In other words, half of the haul of increased tax revenue from the Smokefree New Zealand policy comes out of the wallets of mentally ill people who are taxed for trying to obtain relief from psychological distress.
And the higher they pump the tax up, the more the mentally ill will just have to keep paying, because people with high levels of psychological distress have no other reliable way to control that distress when it gets out of control than to have a cigarette.
Why the Smokefree New Zealand policy is so cruel can be summarised with a line from a recent article in the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research: “people with high levels of psychological distress do not benefit to the same extent as others from existing tobacco control measures.”
In fact, people with high levels of psychological distress lose out immensely from the Smokefree New Zealand policy, because they have to pay more for tobacco which leaves them in increased poverty, which increases the psychological distress (and thus the demand for tobacco).
Here’s a question that the gutless chickenshits in Parliament will never have the courage to ask themselves: Is there a connection between the tobacco prices and our world record teen suicide rate?
They won’t ask themselves that question, because they lack either the integrity or the courage. The rest of us, for our part, might like to consider this question: will the attempt to ban tobacco be any less of a futile waste of resources, achieving nothing but human misery, than the attempts to ban alcohol and cannabis have been?
This column contends that it will not. The crusade against tobacco has all the hallmarks of being another futile, self-destructive suicide mission foisted on an unwilling populace by the morons in Parliament.