I’m all for the plain packaging of cigarettes. I don’t smoke myself, and I really object to being subjected to other people’s second-hand smoke. In much the same way that cyclists feel they have the moral high ground over cars, I’m convinced that it is my right to sit outside at a café and eat my lunch without being enveloped in a cancer-causing cloud of smoke. So as far as I’m concerned the fewer smokers the better.
But my favourite part of this new legislation and all the legal to-ing and fro-ing which has followed is not the prospect of fewer smokers. I doubt it will deter anyone who already smokes, so for now I can’t see it making a big difference to the air quality at lunchtime. No, my favourite part is how the whole thing is so clever. Clever politics, who would have thought?
For starters the campaign itself is a master stroke. The Government could have just banned smoking altogether. But that would make puffing on a cigarette seem dangerous and therefore ‘cool’ to young people looking to break the rules. That path might have ruined tobacco companies in Australia, but I think it could also have increased the rate at which new young smokers took up the habit, albeit illicitly. So instead the Government is making smoking as uncool as possible. Good work for forward thinking, politicians.
And then there are the judges. The people presiding over the hearing are clearly enjoying themselves, if the comments printed in the newspapers are anything to go by. The tobacco companies appear to be grasping at straws, and those questioning them seem to think it’s jolly good fun to poke holes in their arguments.
For instance, Imperial Tobacco’s senior council Bret Walker suggested during the proceedings that while a health warning on rat poison was legitimate, the proposed health warnings on cigarette packets were all about ‘destroying’ a lawful product. In response Justice Virginia Bell pointed out that while rat poison could, if one followed the warning label, be used safely, cigarettes, if used as directed, could kill. And what is senior council Bret Walker supposed to say to that?
To find out more about the case read the YOURLifeChoices article Plain packaging for cigarettes
Have your say
What do you think? Is all the hoo-ha a big waste of time, or has the Australian Government finally got it right?