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Op-Ed: The War on Tobacco — Yet another gift to organized crime

Stop pretending to know what you’re talking about. You’re wrong and you know you’re wrong. So does everyone else.

Vaping has become a new battleground between tobacco lobbyists and anti-smoking campaigners
Vaping has become a new battleground between tobacco lobbyists and anti-smoking campaigners - Copyright AFP/File JOEL SAGET
Vaping has become a new battleground between tobacco lobbyists and anti-smoking campaigners - Copyright AFP/File JOEL SAGET

If you have a negative IQ, your best choice of career is a prohibitionist policymaker. Prohibition of anything has never worked at all, ever. Tobacco policy obviously isn’t an exception. Prohibition has always made organized crime richer by the day.

All you need are a few naïve out-of-touch idiots. Tobacco is now going the same way, making billions for criminals. So now they’re passing as many laws as they can to make sure organized crime continues to live in luxury.

This is the current state of play:

“We’ll prevent young people from ever smoking!” is the current catch cry. No, you won’t. You think organized crime is going to give up a multi-billion cash cow just because you pass a law?

“There are toxic chemicals and pesticides and things in tobacco.” Yes, there are. None of those chemicals need to be in tobacco at all. Tobacco can easily be grown and harvested without any of this garbage from start to finish. Have you done anything at all, ever, about removing those chemicals? No, you haven’t.

Vaping is bad!” It wasn’t bad. It was unregulated, with no oversight. There were no issues with vaping until quite recently and now it’s a huge issue. There were no problems with vape fluid, either. In theory, vaping can remove all the pollutants and contaminants. Therefore, according to this logic, vaping is bad, but an out-of-control black market is somehow better?

Raise the prices so people can’t afford tobacco!” … Which makes tobacco much more valuable for organized crime on the black market. It also makes people poorer, so it obviously fits someone’s political agenda.

“Plain packaging and health warnings!” Not working. You’re warning people about the same toxic materials hazards as the omnipresent pollution. You know, the pollution you do nothing about? Petroleum products and common contaminants are everywhere, not just in tobacco.

“Figures show…” No, they don’t. They show something quite appalling. Figures show that respiratory diseases are climbing constantly despite fewer people smoking. The CDC mentioned a huge disparity in these figures many years ago. Tobacco isn’t causing this.

While you’re at it, check out the total lack of clear macro focus in many of these stats. The big picture is garbled as usual.  If you wanted to know the actual status of a given situation, would you do numbers like that?

There’s a word for the current state of tobacco regulation. That word is “failure”.

Here’s a checklist:

Stopping people smoking: If illegal sales are anything to go by, the impact is minimal at best.

Preventing the distribution of illegal tobacco: More or less the same as any other illegal drug, and adding enforcement demands on resources for affected agencies.

Improving public health: Really? How would you prove that? From what I’ve seen of figures, any demographer could make a strong case that’s not happening.

Spending millions on something that doesn’t work and can’t solve the problems: Bingo! What a surprise, eh?

The solution is simple enough.

Create a safe form of whatever drug it is. As any drug expert knows, the safer form is the preferred form, even for junkies and lifelong addicts.

In the case of tobacco, many alternative delivery forms already exist. Regulated and licensed quality controls will do. Lozenges, dosage-regulated vapes without the garbage, patches, the list is endless.

Above all –

Stop pretending to know what you’re talking about. You’re wrong and you know you’re wrong. So does everyone else. You’re destroying all credibility in tobacco reform. Just shut up and do it properly.

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Disclaimer
The opinions expressed in this Op-Ed are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Digital Journal or its members.

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Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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