OPINION: As New Zealand moves towards the Government's stated goal of being smoke-free by 2025, stories such as those that appeared on Tuesday's front page will become more frequent.
Bar owners are protesting suggestions that smoke-free areas in and outside their establishments will no longer be permitted, while smokers say that will banish them to their own homes because they enjoy a cigarette with their alcohol.
Both groups see themselves as victims of people who know what's best for others. For some it is an attack on personal liberty - after all neither cigarettes nor alcohol are illegal substances - yet the use of both contributes hugely to the health bill and the deaths of New Zealand citizens.
The anti-smoking campaign of the last two decades was successful and widespread.
The biggest club in the country comprises those people who used to smoke.
Smoking is no longer socially acceptable.
People cannot light up in restaurants, cafes, bars or workplaces.
Nobody would nowadays dream of smoking at the table after a meal or smoking inside somebody else's home.
That unacceptability has probably been the most effective incentive to would-be non-smokers.
Nobody likes to be a pariah or treated like a leper. And the truth is the second biggest club consists of people who want to stop smoking.
Smelling like an ashtray is hardly conducive to feeling confident and attractive.
Standing outside in the wind, cold and rain is arguably more dangerous to a smoker's immediate health than the noxious fumes being inhaled.
The problem lies in overkill, so to speak.
Banging on about a particular subject, especially when the target of the "advice" already feels bad about themselves can be counter-productive.
Millions of dollars are spent on advertising the dangers of smoking but smokers don't care.
Righteousness turns people off and often the message is lost. When smokers say they have the freedom of choice they are fooling themselves.
That is the equivalent of an alcoholic claiming he or she has the freedom to drink.
Everybody knows that is not freedom, it is addiction.
Perhaps the target audience should really be our young and the parents of young children because within a few decades the hardened smokers will be gone.
If you don't start it will never be a problem, but again the problem is not the message but how you get it across.
Teenagers take up smoking because they think it is cool and sophisticated or because one or both of their parents smoke.
Young people don't fear smoking-related illnesses or death because they "know" it won't happen to them.
That is part of growing up.
The example has to be set in the home.
Smoking parents need to care more about their kids than their habit.
Banning the sale of cigarettes and tobacco is an obvious solution.
So would raising the price so high that nobody could afford to smoke.
While some fear the growth of smuggling and a black market, many more smokers would be grateful that the decision was taken out of their hands.
- Taranaki Daily News
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