Agreeing with Soper twice in a week

It is a red letter day when I agree with Barry Soper twice in a week.

Today he lambasts the government for their plain packaging nanny-statism:

There was a time that Parliament resembled an opium den, so thick was the smoke around the place. It was virtually compulsory to smoke everywhere, the debating chamber, select committee rooms and Bellamys was always acrid with smoke.

But suddenly smoking became untrendy. There were howls of derision when the final bastion of the butt, Bellamys was declared smoke free and the smoking stalwarts were forced into the Wellington wind to try and strike up. In recent weeks even that’s been banned, from the front forecourt of Parliament anyway.

I think there is a real case for bringing back smoke-filled rooms for hatching of plots.

They now have to skulk around the back of the building to partake. If they were sent packing from there, the custodian of our pure air, Parliament’s Speaker knows it’d cut to the very heart of democracy, MPs off the precinct aren’t allowed to cast a proxy vote.

So some of them had to stub their butts out the back to get to the final vote last night on another measure to make cigarettes even more unattractive to the punter, plain packaging.

They’ve had it across the ditch for almost four years and the results are varied, depending on who you listen to. The baccy companies say smoking’s actually increased while the health industry fewer people are fagging.

Now not wanting to sound like a bleeding heart but what happened to freedom of choice. If the product’s legal, and of course tobacco is, then why shouldn’t they allow it to be advertised? And before they argue that it’s a drain on the health system, that’s surely covered by the excise tax paid by smokers. And if they do live a shorter life, then they won’t be a drain on the pension.

If there’s to be a level playing field, how about looking at that other addictive product that arguably causes more pain and suffering than fags – liquor?

It isn’t pensioners who should get a gold card simply for daring to live past 65. I think smokers should be given a gold card for killing themselves off before they get the pension. It’s bloody generous of them to do so, and more importantly, they’ve voluntarily paid way more in taxes than a non-smoker.


– NZ Herald

  • Skydog

    I’m sure liquor labeling is well within radar range of all the do gooders. The following target will be sugar and the days of the bright red coke bottles will be a thing of the past.

  • Graham Pilgrim

    I can name 4 relatives and close friends who have died agonising early deaths in the last 5 years, agonising for themselves, and all who had to witness the suffering, directly as a result of smoking related diseases

    I cannot name 1 who has died as a result of alcohol consumption, be it from accident or over consumption.

    • Brian_Smaller

      I don’t care that your relatives or close friends died from smoking. It contributed to the poor health and death of relatives of mine, including my parents. That still doesn’t make this law change right.

      If the government wants to do something then ban sale of tobacco completely.

  • venator

    Yep. Soper is turning into a bit of a dazzler. What will he write next week?

  • cows4me

    The puritans will be feeling pretty pleased with themselves doing God’s work and all. I’m reminded of the old adage the goes in this vain , “first they came for the smokers and i did not care, then they came for the fatties and I did not care”, you know the rest. These people won’t be happy with this small victory it will be onward to rid the world of it’s evil vices and all will feel their wrath. This isn’t God’s work, besides the straight out destruction of private property rights it also borders on fascism and totalitarianism. Think I’m been silly, watch and wait. And shame on National, once again you lower the bar and are looking more like the sickly shadow of the scumbags you replaced.

    • Mike Webber

      It does not border on fascism and totalitarianism, it is pure fascism and totalitarianism. I have never smoked, but the dangers and death from smoking are greatly exaggerated, as the Libs found when studying this some years ago. At that time four times more tax on cigs was collected than the extra spent on smokers health care. I always thought that putting rolled up leaves in your mouth and setting fire to them as somewhat weird and obviously not good for you.

  • oldmanNZ

    Is it because hdpa is a smoker? I recall see her smoke…. But not sure if it was a prop, like max key had a cigarette prop.

    • Graham Pilgrim

      I was wondering if Barry Soper himself is/was a smoker. It would explain his rather tiring voice.

      To me, smoking is a little like Islam. Most of the world acknowledges that it is dangerous and absurd, but its followers will defend it to the death!