OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Sock-Puppeting Big Tobacco to Chew on ACT

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  • poffa,

    I don't agree agree with the idea that smoking outside has no effect on others. What happens to the tonnes of ash flicked onto the ground and washed to the sea or is it that all the nasties are now in the air. And butts after filtering the toxins they are feed to the fish we eat. I have been on the beach in Cadiz where the Mediteranian meets the Atlantic and kicked the 1/2 mtr high football field sized drifts of butts on the beach and can't believe these have not in some way impacted on the surrounding population.

    auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 26 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to George Darroch,

    His basic assumption (as I gather from what has been written here) is that much of tobacco policy is primarily punitive, driven not by health needs, but by a societal wish to sanction those who violate norms.

    No, you are completely wrong about this. I simply disagree with the punitive motives where they exist in tobacco policy, and have a fundamental difference of values about society's right to inflict such punishment.

    Society must be defended. He says that he is not driven by this, but I don’t believe him, insomuch as he claims to be comfortable only with measures that do not impinge much on his freedom.

    Eh? I absolutely think society must be defended. I never claimed only to be comfortable with measures that don't impinge much on my freedom. I simply have some rules about when such impingement is justified. When the purpose is to punish people for doing something that only harms them, then I hate the idea. When the purpose is to prevent harms to others, like the indoor smoking ban, I think that's a good law.

    Ben persists in the idiotic assertion that smoking is a choice made by rational adults, rather than a addiction fallen into by teenagers. So, this part is important.

    It is indeed. Most smokers are rational adults. They are not mentally ill. They are not children. They're not criminals. They're people who deserve respect and fair treatment.

    Second hand smoke is very serious, and although there are some situations (a park, for example). Nevertheless, Ben is chosing to ignore this part of things, because it does not coincide with his argument.

    What tosh. Anyone who is capable of reading can see the number of times I've said I agree with the indoor smoking ban, because of the harm caused by second-hand smoke. I'm not, however, convinced about the harms of this inflicted out of doors, except in quite specific circumstances (crowds). I do not count being offended by a smell as an important social harm, I'm sorry. Please indicate to me any studies that show that second hand smoke picked up out of doors is a significant health risk, and I'll make the necessary adjustments to the average gap between humans required to protect people from harm.

    Apologies for the length. I feel like I have to spell everything out.

    Thank you for misrepresenting me so clearly. I feel I really understand what you want me to be saying now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8316 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    If it's in the public's interest, why is it so?

    Maybe the $350 million smoking-related health bill you cited earlier could be redirected to other parts of the health system? Maybe the money spent on promoting 'stop smoking' campaigns could be spent elsewhere? Maybe smokers (a significant proportion of whom come from socio-economically deprived communities) would have a bit more money to spend on things that bring them benefits as opposed to making them sick? Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing if the non-smoking public didn't have to sit inside or go elsewhere to avoid smoke in some public places? Maybe my father (and 5000 other people each year) would live long enough for his gransdon to remember him and learn from him, thereby becoming a slightly more rounded and worldy member of society than he otherwise have become? Less litter?

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    This rather reminds me of the breastfeeding discussion. "You individuals are doing something bad!" vs "this issue is far less to do with individual agency than it is structural!"

    (In any case, I'm the apparently rare non-smoker who really doesn't give much of a shit about open-air smoking. Come, smoke vaguely near me in a park, you hapless addicted souls! I will happily move six inches to the left!)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3628 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'm not, however, convinced about the harms of this inflicted out of doors

    What would it take to convince you? You seem to be simply ignoring well-established public health policy about tobacco and addiction.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    I'm the apparently rare non-smoker who really doesn't give much of a shit about open-air smoking

    I don't either, at that practical day-to-day level. It's just not where the harms or opportunities that motivate any public intervention lie. George explained the linkages quite adequately.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • John Armstrong, in reply to BenWilson,

    It is indeed. Most smokers are rational adults. They are not mentally ill. They are not children.

    Ben, you have asked everyone to enter this discussion in the spirit of openmindedness and willingness to understand an alternative view, but this just demonstrates that you are making no attempt to do so yourself. I haven't got the numbers, but I think it is fair to assume that most smokers start reasonably young. It is also reasonably fair to assume that most are smart enough to understand the risks. And it is also fair to assume that chemical addiction is a significant factor in their continuing to smoke. Sure, they become rational adults later, but by then the chemical addiction compromises their ability to exercise rationality.

    And its disingenuous to imply (as you do) that acknowledging addiction as a factor alongside rational choice is to depict smokers as 'mentally ill' or 'children'. No-one is saying that.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2007 • 126 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    a win-no win for tobaccaddicts
    & a wind win for those downwind

    To keep the alfresco nightshade consumer happy and still able to seek solace in the Solanaceae family, may I put in a plug for chewing tobacco ...
    - but please take a jar with you to spit in!

    Sadly while users may save their lungs this way, they'll still be running the risk of contracting oral cancers.

    Also, just wondering how the non-smoking in prisons is going, I haven't heard of any recent riots...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4679 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    I'd like to understand how you see the relationship between addiction and personal choice.

    I think you're asking this in good faith, but I just don't really feel like answering it, because it's not especially relevant to the argument at hand. Whether choice exists or not does not alter the morality of using punitive measures to influence the decision making process. You've been asking it over and over, and I've only delayed because I've been tempted to answer at length and just haven't had the time. But now I'm sure I just don't want to do it in this context, and certainly not now, as I absolutely have to get back to work.

    What would it take to convince you? You seem to be simply ignoring well-established public health policy about tobacco and addiction.

    A clearer elucidation of the actual harms at work here. The outdoor passive smoking harm is quantified somewhere? I could easily change my opinion on seeing it. Do you have other harms in mind as well? Say what they are. I'm not ignoring public health policy - I'm just not aware of it, it's not my field, nor an interest of mine.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8316 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I just don’t really feel like answering it, because it’s not especially relevant to the argument at hand.

    If you want to talk about personal choice, but wont to talk about addiction, you’re just... [edited, unnecessarily harsh].

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    certainly not now, as I absolutely have to get back to work

    Same

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    the morality of using punitive measures to influence the decision making process

    Fencing off private swimming pools, etc, might also be relevant comparisons - though 'punitive' might not be the right word. Language choices like that suggest an underlying belief system that is of some interest. Just not right now, perhaps.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I’m not ignoring public health policy – I’m just not aware of it, it’s not my field, nor an interest of mine.

    Here’s a good place to start. World Health Organisation, Tobacco.

    Edit: actually, everyone in this debate could get something from the WHO's page. There are some extremely well produced resources there.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    it's not especially relevant to the argument at hand

    Yeah I'm struggling to make sense of that one.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    I'm sure Carrick can suggest some references..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Whether choice exists or not does not alter the morality of using punitive measures to influence the decision making process.

    And I've explained, that while measures cause you inconvenience, they are not punitive. They are preventative. They reduce consumption and reduce the likelihood of others smoking, and make it easier to break the addiction (which most want to do). You still feel like society is trying to punish you - when that is not what the policy wonks in MOH and tobacco control are trying to do. (Well, there are those youth ads which are aimed at making smokers uncool). But for the most part, punitive sanctions are a limited part of the policy mix.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2132 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to George Darroch,

    feel like society is trying to punish you

    which might be worth exploring, but probably not here.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16491 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    As above, so below...

    I think you’re asking this in good faith, but I just don’t really feel like answering it, because it’s not especially relevant to the argument at hand.

    Deja vu - how Brash of you...
    see him do exactly this at about 6:30 in...
    (watch the whole documentary if you haven't before)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4679 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Maybe the $350 million smoking-related health bill you cited earlier could be redirected to other parts of the health system?

    Maybe we'd have to spend way more on pensions if people stopped smoking and lived longer?

    Since Jul 2008 • 1321 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Danielle,

    Come, smoke vaguely near me in a park, you hapless addicted souls! I will happily move six inches to the left!

    To be honest I appreciate the right and need for people to light up without being sneered at, whether it’s because they’re addicted or because they want to. I just wish public spaces would be built with more thought towards encouraging and sometimes shifting people who want to smoke away from commonly used public places and thoroughfares. I’d be happier if we treated smoking in the same way that we often restrict people from taking bikes or food or dogs into certain areas because of how it changes a place and the annoyance it causes to others who are there for different reasons, as long as there are other reasonable places set aside for it. Presently, especially with things like cafes pushing all their smokers out into big long lines on sheltered public footpaths that continue to be pushed as major walking routes between points A and B, we’re encouraging smokers into crowded places.

    As I said earlier though, I think the question of there being a “right to fresh air” is a separate issue that’s not being discussed here. I’m mostly taking exception to the claims that effects of outdoor smoking — whatever they are — are easy to get away from. For many people I don’t think it’s true.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 317 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    For a good discussion of 'benefits' and transfers of smoking costs, see page 45 in this report. The important line is "It is perhaps unnecessary to add that our society should not and does not count as a 'benefit' any shortening of the life-span, and the evidence for this, if evidence be required, is the ongoing provision of healthcare and pensions to retired people."

    In other words: We don't stop providing healthcare to people aged over 65 because their superannuation bill will be less if they die earlier, and in the same way, we don't count it as a benefit if smokers die early and therefore incur a lower superannuation bill.

    The report is also relevant to most of the rest of the discussion here as well.

    For something more succint, if perhaps written in more emotive language, see also ASH's response to the argument that we'd have to spend more on pensions if smokers didn't smoke (even ex-smokers have somewhat reduced life expectancy), as well as to a whole bunch of other tobacco-apologist arguments raised in this thread, here.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 323 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    In other words: We don't stop providing healthcare to people aged over 65 because their superannuation bill will be less if they die earlier, and in the same way, we don't count it as a benefit if smokers die early and therefore incur a lower superannuation bill.

    But purely from the point of view of the public accounts it is a benefit, and it is nonsense to disagree. I certainly agree that smoking related deaths are a horrible blight on society; but I do not agree with non-smokers complaining about the cost to them of smoking, and the cost to the public health system.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1321 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    I don't complain about the cost to me of smoking. I complain about the cost to society of smoking. The cost to society is not measured only by the public accounts.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 323 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    I think it's a;ll bullshit. There are cause celebres, and then there's shit no-one talks about. I just get sick of it. That is all.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    The cost to society is not measured only by the public accounts.

    So whats the cost to society of lawyers for big corporations doing as Keith said:

    asking the Government to change the bill specifically so they’d have less of a case to prove when they sued the government.

    Seems a hell of a lot more than the people who just smoke.
    Massive self interested duplicity or puffing on a fag.
    I know who I'd come down harder on.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1175 posts Report Reply

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