by Tom Chivers
Thursday, 9
December 2021
Reaction
14:30

New Zealand’s smoking ban will backfire

Making it illegal to sell cigarettes to future generations will create a black market
by Tom Chivers
Credit: Getty

We should legalise drugs.

That’s not a surprising position for someone who, like me, comes from the liberal, vaguely Left side of politics. But it’s the one I hold. And I hold it, as do most liberals, because I believe (on the basis, I think, of good evidence) that most of the harms caused by drugs are caused by their prohibition. If you make a drug illegal, you make it impossible to regulate: it is, for example, often easier for under-18s to get hold of cannabis than alcohol, because it is not sold in regulated shops which require ID. There is no quality control or safety management. The argument for legalising drugs is not that drugs are safe: drugs are not safe. The argument for legalising drugs is precisely that they are unsafe, and it is easier to make them safer if you can regulate them.

Which is why it is surprising that, with some already legal drugs, there is a tendency to move in the other direction. New Zealand plans to make it illegal for anyone born after 2008 to buy cigarettes, once those people reach the legal age to do so.

Smoking is an astonishingly dangerous habit. It contributes to something 80,000 deaths a year in this country, according to the NHS: that’s about one death in every seven. It really is amazingly bad for you.

But people are doing it less and less. The minimum age for buying cigarettes has gone up; smoking has been banned indoors, adverts for cigarettes have been banned, and cigarette brands have been forced to ditch their logos. Vaping has become much more common, and while it’s not risk-free, it’s at least an order of magnitude safer than smoking (and risks of it acting as a gateway drug appear to be overstated). Whether through those measures, or education, or simply changing attitudes, smoking has dropped enormously: something like half of UK adults smoked in the mid-1970s; now it’s more like one in six.

This is what the regulation of dangerous drugs looks like. It’s trickier with tobacco than with, say, heroin or MDMA, because a much larger percentage of the population already uses it openly. You couldn’t, for instance, make tobacco prescription-only to addicts, as you could if you were starting more from scratch. But you can use public health measures and regulation to reduce use, and while doing so you can stop under-18s from buying it, and you can maintain rigorous safety standards.

But making it illegal seems to go against all the wisdom we’ve gained from other drugs. New Zealand has done other useful things – they’re making it harder to buy tobacco and restricting its sale from many shops. Those sorts of levers seem more sensible. Prohibition, though, is a blunt tool. If it ever reduces use, it’s not by much; and it increases the harm drugs do, by reducing society’s control over them. Maybe smoking is a special case, or maybe New Zealand has some clever way around all the harms. But I’d be very wary.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
9 months ago

There’s an article today about the UK’s latest anti-covid measures, the so-called Plan B. Freddie Sayers and various commenters make the point we in the West have become addicted to Safetyism. We will give up almost everything to remove risk from our lives. NZ and Australia seem to be taking this trend further than most. They are now locked-down island fortresses. There seems to be no end to the restrictions and regulations they’ll impose, not just directed at covid and, as Tom Chivers points out, not necessarily based on the best evidence, and their population seems to be largely ok with these measures.
There’s another article today regarding Elon Musk’s repeated warning about falling birthrates in the West and the resulting collapse of civilization. Isn’t this just a symptom of the same problem? Young people are now too afraid to have kids. The future is too bleak, at least it looks that way if you read all the terrible predictions from governments and the MSM. Why bring kids into this mess? Why not turn your personal agency over to a technocratic government?
When Americans settled the western US they piled into wagon trains and headed into the unknown, children and babies too. They had more babies along the way, in the middle of what was then a wilderness. A lot of people died. Child mortality statistics from that era are heart breaking, but there was life. People weren’t afraid to live, to take a chance. The world is smaller now, we’re discovering there are limits to growth, but, as developed societies, we seem determined to wring the last vestiges of risk, excitement and life from our daily existence.

Last edited 9 months ago by J Bryant
James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Excellent comment. Well put!

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

For the left, conscious of having no legitimate power, the sadism of compulsive prohibition of what are really harmless behaviours in respect of others is emotionally exciting.

Last edited 9 months ago by Arnold Grutt
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“NZ and Australia seem to be taking this trend further than most. They are now locked-down island fortresses.”

But they are odd cases, basically they dig up resources, or grow them, and ship them out. Human Movement in and out is not vital, as it is in a developed economy. They still did huge self harm, they wrecked their vital tourist industry. They steal from the lives of their young (who lost vital life experience, and then will have to pay for this) to extend the life of their old. This is an obscene thing. All the Lockdowns are in fact this – the theft of the young people’s life and future to marginally protect the old. Sick Stuff, Immoral.

And the Vax for the young? It gives them no benefit, they are much better getting covid and thus natural immunity as it is not a problem to them – but Vax does harm a % of them. The entire justification for vaxing the young is to protect the old. Obscene. “(FDA). VAERS is part of the larger vaccine safety system in the United States that helps make sure vaccines are safe. The system is co-managed by CDC and FDA.” in USA says 11,000 young people have had heart problems from the vax. (this is under reported by 5X is expert guessing) There is every reason to suspect this will have long term bad effects for them – but so many other issues than just the heart!

NZ and AUs should be ashamed at what huge P****** they are, to wreck the young out of fear of some risk to the old. This is Immoral to any society except to modern Post-Modernist Liberal/Left who have no morality at all.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Interesting you put the word “life” in italics. We’ve all become afraid to die. It’s one of life’s great ironies, but people who are afraid to die are generally afraid to live. Certainly, the existence the compassionate arbiters of safety have foisted on us now is simply not worth having. Utter cowards.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Shut the gate, stay inside, do what mummy tells you. NZ is becoming the world-leading femino-fascist administrative state.

Nicola Larosa
Nicola Larosa
9 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

> NZ is becoming the world-leading femino-fascist administrative state.
Wait a second. We invented fascism, and maternal codependence is the Italian way. Now these newcomers down under-under just combine the two, and think they came up with something new? Sheesh!

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  Nicola Larosa

….santa madre di Dio, chi potrebbe contestare che il Bel Paese sia stato il primo ad aggrapparsi ai bastoni!

Val Colic-Peisker
Val Colic-Peisker
9 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Femmo-fascist? Just because the PM is a woman? C’mon. Do not exaggerate – it does not make the argument more convincing. Yes, it’s stifling and authoritarian, but neither femmo nor fascist.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Great observations. Our sense of wonder has been damaged only to be replaced by a cold, supercilious curiosity, in the digital age.

James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago

I’m a former prosecutor. I was in NYC during the Golden Age of Crack, including time as a Narcotics prosecutor (nothing special, everyone did time there, not happily). I share the author’s view that drugs should be legalized. The war on drugs is lost, can’t win, shouldn’t try. So legalize ALL drugs–but please note that this is not the same as saying drugs are good, that I want your little lads and lasses to smoke crack, shoot smack. I don’t, so don’t make that argument. Drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, are mostly bad, and always bad when abused.
I would be quite happy if no one in the world used tobacco products–everyone would be healthier, perhaps happier. But on some level, it’s really none of my business. People can make choices–up to them, not up to me. Should I say I would also be happier if no one ate fried food? If people didn’t drink soda? I don’t, but it’s not my job to tell others what to do in these cases. Some like fried food, some like soda. Up to them. That’s what freedom is all about.
Back to NZ. Jacinda is a vile, evil, controlling, disgusting enemy of freedom. Cue the downvoted, the “JJ is such a misogynist” comments. Give it a go! JA is the only source of truth and the only source of good–she said so herself. No one should be surprised that JA is using the Corona “crisis” as an opportunity to take even more power, to get people to do whatever she feels is best for them.
I would encourage people to watch this video. Truly chilling. JA has probably watched this and used it as a model to be implements in NZ.
Please, Kiwis, rise up against this tyranny!

https://youtu.be/vJYaXy5mmA8

George Glashan
George Glashan
9 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

JJ your such a misogynist. :p

George Glashan
George Glashan
9 months ago
Reply to  George Glashan

insults coming from your enemy are not insults, their compliments. when a an insane person calls you insane, its like multiplying a double negative and makes it a positive

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
9 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

I disagree with you about smoking. It is a vile habit and should be discouraged in some way.
I agree with you in the sense that a black market will develop but to do nothing to curb smoking is totally irresponsible.
Your error, as a thinker, is that you cling to this idea of personal responsibility for everything but this can only be true with people who think. As we said with Nietzsche discussions a couple of days ago, 99% or more of the population need to be led. You need to cut down the sweet drinks to allow medical services to work in the future. You need to try to stop smoking in some way for the benefit of our citizens, even if there are problems.
Personally, I eat quite a lot of fat and almost no sugar. This is because I have read some books and have some ideas. Most people don’t do this. Conversations continue, “They say that fat is bad for you.” Non-thinkers have to follow, or try to follow. There will be governments who legislate against added sugar in food. Good news! The same with tobacco.
By the way, that woman is truly horrible.

James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

“I disagree with you about smoking. It is a vile habit and should be discouraged in some way.”
How do we disagree? I never even remotely suggested that nothing be done to discourage smoking. High taxes. Reasonable age limits. Non-smoking areas inside and out. Maybe even discounts on insurance for non-tobacco use.
But this outright ban is wrong.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
9 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Nope. Smoking, like drinking, is a coming-of-age thing. Young people believe that the downside of smoking is not for them, only for old people. When cigarettes are freely available and legal it sends a message out to all youngsters.
There will be a black market. Some will cheat. Others will understand.
Food is not the same because it is not a coming-of-age thing. The food advice has to be focussed on new parents. It has been demonstrated many times (I can provide citations) that the time of weaning is when young people get an urge to eat sugary food, an urge which never goes away.

James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

How are cigarettes “freely available” with reasonable age restrictions?

Last edited 9 months ago by James Joyce
James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

My comment got flagged because I used a slang term that can also mean something else for cigarettes. Wow!
The point is that cigarettes are NOT freely available with reasonable age restrictions.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

Could I be advised as to why my pleasure, which affects nobody else (given sensible restrictions) is a ‘vile habit’? I think self-righteous posturing by bores is worse.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
9 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Because I have spent time with people who have sprinkled cigarette ash all over me, I have had to visit people in houses which stink, it is the main cause of chronic disease in our society and …. I saw my father die of lung cancer whilst claiming that smoking was ‘his pleasure’. So, I am biased but everybody on this site is biased.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

I niotice that you skilfully dodged my point, which was that regardless of the effect on the smoker it does not damage anyone else. I quite agree that smoking might be dangerous for me (though I have smoked without much incident for 56 years) but why that is your business I’m not sure.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
9 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

I’m in your camp but as a child I watched my dad smoke 60 a day. It was especially bad in the car where the cigarette smoke condensed into brown stains on the windows. But I agree it was his choice and he died of lung cancer, though not regretful as he’d reached the ripe old age of 72 (having drunk Carlsberg special brew for breakfast this was quite an achievement). But I do worry that he may have bequeathed me lung cancer as a secondary smoker throughout my childhood.

David Winsland
David Winsland
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

It is the worry that will kill you rather than the secondary smoking!

Carol Scott
Carol Scott
9 months ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

In the past two years I have lost six friends to lung cancer. Only one was a smoker the others were never smokers and never did jobs that exposed them to risk or lived with smokers. All diagnosed too late as their doctors did not suspect lung cancer. If you have lungs you can get lung cancer and I wish other causes were looked at. If you are worried say you used to smoke and you should get sent for tests.

Last edited 9 months ago by Carol Scott
David Winsland
David Winsland
9 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

My mother died, aged 93, still smoking 30 cigarettes each day. Was she happy, not at all! Happiness was not apparent in her life. I am now 85 and have been smoking since I was 9 and will continue until I die. Is it good for me, I don’t know, but what I have often recently pondered over is whether or not I would be alive today had I not smoked. During the time I was filling my pipe or rolling a cigarette or any activity associated with my habit would I have done something similar to walking under a bus … or not? I don’t know, I cannot know but what I do know is that I am happy with my life.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
9 months ago
Reply to  David Winsland

Smoking actually saved my dad’s life. He was walking around Dublin in the 1970s and realized he’d left his cigarettes at home. He went back for them and seconds later a bomb went off where he would have been walking if he’d not turned back.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

“An assistant professor at Old Dominion University (ODU) is defending pedophiles, calling them by their new preferred euphemism of “minor-attracted persons,” and claiming that their behavior can be “moral.” ODU assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice Allyn Walker wrote his book, A Long Dark Shadow: MinorAttracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity”

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

… 99% or more of the population need to be led.

People having the vote, is that OK by you?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
9 months ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

You are asking the wrong person. I am semi-quoting Nietzsche. Interestingly, about 50% of the 99% can’t be bothered to vote.
I can’t speak for others but I am an older person and there is a reasonable argument for disenfranchising me.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

…well, if human wisdom coagulates at all, then it’s not when you’re in your revolutionary youth. The whole point of ‘democracy’ is to engage the collective wisdom, so the stronger case is for raising the current voting age, not lowering it, or disenfranchising the old.

James Joyce
James Joyce
9 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

It seems very close to reality in NZ!

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

….close to? Case closed actually. All the senior positions in governance, Prime Minister, Gov-General, Chief Justice are held by women. Half of the Cabinet are women and just under half of Parliamentarians. 53% of the 61,000 permanent public servants are women.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

“I share the author’s view that drugs should be legalized.”

And I have been in and around the shadowy drug world from inside, and have seen it, and am against legalizing drugs.

Strange how people come to opposite beliefs, but then I know how ones ‘Reality’ is exceedingly complex, how we build it over a lifetime of taking forks on paths, so none can expect to really end up at the same end place as anyone else – and does not necessarily mean either one is wrong….

Mel Bass
Mel Bass
9 months ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I’ve also seen a lot of the shadowy drug world (from a work perspective!), and I started out anti-legalisation, but in the UK at least, we have little control over the drugs trade, few dealers are ever punished severely enough by the courts to stop dealing, addicts are treated with kid gloves and they play along with rehab/counselling, to get lighter punishments for their associated crimes. We don’t have enough police officers to enforce what laws we have and cannabis use is now largely ignored because it’s impossible to police. Even the drugs counsellors who I know say that controlled legalisation is the best way forward, because you can’t ‘cure’ addicts unless they want to get clean, and most of them don’t, even if they see their mates overdose and die. Meanwhile, in practical terms, every heroin addict costs the economy tens of thousands per year in crime (stealing to pay for their habit), in rehab (usually for the above reasons) and in police/court/NHS time, making legalisation also the cheapest way forward.
Prohibition doesn’t work, and just drives usage underground. Back to cigarettes – they are now so expensive that there’s a roaring underground trade in cheap cigarettes that have been smuggled into the country.

Last edited 9 months ago by Mel Bass
Trish Castle
Trish Castle
9 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

We are trying, but it’s hard work. Unfortunately we have a very compliant population which has now slipped very easily into “showing your papers” to access almost anywhere. Cafes, restaurants, gyms – even the library and swimming pools now. So many think it’s ok because they have been told by this woman that we must “protect the vaccinated from the unvaccinated” – her “2 + 2 = 5” moment. Instead of finding fault in the product which does not prevent them from being vulnerable to infection, the vaccinated are encouraged to think those who have not partaken of this injectable pharmaceutical product should wear the consequences of this product failure. I think in the area I live there are ZERO “cases” of Covid in the community yet everyone is behaving like each other is a walking bundle of contagion ready to strike them dead if they get within two metres, particularly if they don’t possess “papers”. I am lucky in that I live somewhere comfortable where I can withdraw to in order to be able to avoid witnessing this dystopia. I feel for those who feel like me but have no choice but to live it close up every day.https://voicesforfreedom.co.nz/

Raymond Inauen
Raymond Inauen
9 months ago

I don’t smoke, but the thought of banning others from smoking, well that’s one that I just can’t do. Prohibition in all its forms just doesn’t work. All these a anti this or that movements are getting out of hand. But I won’t live long enough to see the new Orwellian world being brought down on us, only catch the first wave of it. I’ve travelled enough and had fun too, something that will most likely be a thing of the past! The world truly has gone off the deep end! I guess New Zealand hasn’t got any other problems either. COVID has given them the perfect pretext to keep on taking away people’s rights! What will be next?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
9 months ago
Reply to  Raymond Inauen

….a digital currency, which will enable the Govt to enforce the ban on post 2008 kids buying cigarettes, and any other things which the Feminarchy disapproves of.

Dan Gleeballs
Dan Gleeballs
9 months ago

For what it’s worth, Tom Chivers, I really appreciate the clarity of every one of your pieces. They remind me of the last chapter in ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.’ – where an A level maths question is dissected, giving insight to his way of thinking.

Excellent. I have an idea how hard it is to write so well, so I just wanted to say thanks. It’s a rare gift.

Last edited 9 months ago by Dan Gleeballs
J Bryant
J Bryant
9 months ago
Reply to  Dan Gleeballs

I second that. He sometimes receives criticism here in the comments section, and I don’t always agree with what he writes, but at least he sets forth his reasoning in clear, concise terms, and he tackles a range of subjects that are inherently difficult to explain to non-specialists.

Will R
Will R
9 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Me too

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
9 months ago

When I get was in NZ in 2017, I paid £18 for a packet of 20 B&H. I would have thought that would be sufficient discouragement for the young to start. It certainly kept my consumption down for the rest of that holiday.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
9 months ago

So smoking ‘contributes to’ 80,000 deaths a year. Flagrant guff. Merely breathing contributes to EVERY death EVERY year.

D Hockley
D Hockley
9 months ago

Jacinda is one of the most disgusting, human beings on the planet. She does not mean to be, which is what makes it all the sadder. She is simply incapable of understanding the damage that her asinine actions will have on the youth, and therefore the future, of New Zealand.

John
John
9 months ago

It’s interesting how this article demonstrates the author’s bias by selecting evidence on the effect of smoking (which he doesn’t do) but not the effect that cannabis (which presumably he does do) has on mental health and the increase in driving under drug deaths, etc
It’s a shame as usually unherd looks in depth at both sides.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
9 months ago

Opioids were, and still are, legalised, tested and regulated – dispensed by informed doctors to their patients.
So how does the legalise drugs argument apply there, given the millions with destroyed lives taking opioids under the supervision of their doctors?
Would it have been better if opioids were illegal?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
9 months ago

There is no quality control or safety management. The argument for legalising guns is not that guns are safe: guns are not safe. The argument for legalising guns is precisely that they are unsafe, and it is easier to make them safer if you can regulate them.

There you go – same argument for guns. We should be very worried that owners of illegal guns might kill themselves and each other with their illegal, unsafe weapons. Instead we should do what America has, and legalise them. Then everything would be better, and the poor criminals would be safer, as we see in America.

Jonathan Gibbs
Jonathan Gibbs
9 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

In the UK practically all firearms are illegal, yet they are used routinely by criminals, who all know that the general population have no access to them. Guns directly affect others when they are used, so banning them is positive. Illicit drugs only directly affect the users. My eldest brother is a heroin addict. We didn’t know this until he was found unconscious in his flat. He had apparently taken a dose, which hadn’t worked, and then another. He’s now got an iq of 80, and is doubly incontinent. If he had known that the dose he was taking was pure, he would not be in the position he is in now.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
9 months ago

Opiates and cannabis were made illegal across the world in the 1920s, so generations have come and gone with no legal right to grow, sell, buy, consume these things. It has worked well.

Last edited 9 months ago by Martin Smith
Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
9 months ago

“And I hold it, as do most liberals, because I believe (on the basis, I think, of good evidence) that most of the harms caused by drugs are caused by their prohibition.”

Fatuous rubbish.

Last edited 9 months ago by Arnold Grutt
Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
9 months ago
Reply to  Arnold Grutt

Insane Rubbish – misleading rubbish, harmful rubbish. Most of the harms of guns are caused by their prohibition. Most of the harms of domestic violence are caused by their prohibition, Most of the harms of pollution are caused by their prohibition, Most of the harms of crime are caused by their prohibition, Most the harms of ……

Drugs mess people up, and also society,