READER REPORT:

Smoking bans good for health, wallets

BEN ROTTO
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2013
smoking
TIME TO QUIT?: Smoking costs large sums of money and smoking-related health issues are having a big toll on our health system.

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We've asked our readers to share their views on smoking bans in New Zealand cities.

It is widely accepted that smoking is terrible for your health, costs individual large sums of money over time, and smoking-related health issues have a big toll on our health system. So, yes smoking bans are a good thing.

I would love our country to be smoke-free. By 2025? Unlikely. 2035? I certainly hope so. 

Many will argue that making smoking illegal will create another avenue for criminals to wreak havoc. But I think tobacco, although addictive, is something that given the right amount of push this country would be able to be rid of much easier than other drugs.

Even if it does become an illegal substance, it wouldn't have that draw to the younger generation that marijuana, ecstasy or cocaine have. It just doesn't have that high. There may be a black market for tobacco for one maybe two generations, but I think it would eventually dwindle.

The way we are going about it is right, making it tobacco harder to get for younger people, increasing taxes, limiting the places where you're able to smoke. It is having a noticeable effect. I'm only 21 but I have noticed the difference in attitudes towards smokers is much more disapproving. I think the social pressure which used to get people into smoking is actually starting to work the other way in some cases and stop people from starting.

Smokers might be starting slightly younger now but the percentage of people smoking and the amount of cigarettes being consumed in New Zealand is actually decreasing. 

Nearly every smoker I have spoken to would like to see it illegal eventually because they know the toll it is taking on them and their wallets. 

Although we have done well to bring our smoke-free policies in slowly and wean the population off tobacco, we have to be very careful about how we approach that next step.

I would almost go as far to classify it as an illegal substance but below that of any other. Make it more like parking illegally. Start the fines off at low rates, and slowly increase them. Of course have hefty fines for any commercial business dealing in or growing tobacco.

But, let people grow their own, perhaps? I have no problem with naturally grown tobacco for personal use. New Zealand is naturally quite defendable against illegal imports so that's not the issue. If police were to just confiscate and issue a fine as punishment supply both demand and supply would dwindle.

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Of course this method would not eradicate it completely but that's not the point. Just limiting it to a select few who have access (which would slowly dwindle over time as the younger generations grow accustomed to not smoking) would have massive positive effects on our economy and health systems.


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