I have a great new idea to stop road fatalities

Make cars too expensive to buy and use.   No, seriously.  That’s the approach we use for smoking, so why not for cars and other things we want to socially engineer to be too expensive for most to use?

From 1 January 2016, the price of cigarettes will increase by 10 percent, the fourth and final scheduled annual increase.

The government has yet to announce whether it will commit to further annual price increases, but has said it wants to make the country to be smoke-free by 2025.

End Smoking NZ chairwoman Marewa Glover not only wants the increase to continue, she wants the government to raise it.

“I found with our studies people tend to have a budget. So they might say their budget is $15 for tobacco, a day and then they just make it work. They’ll buy loose tobacco, they’ll shift from the manufactured tobacco packets to loose tobacco and start rolling their own, to make it go further.”

“They try and reduce down the number of cigarettes per day. They try and stay within their budget and what helps them by also shifting to a cheaper brand,” she said.

Dr Glover said a 20 percent increase would make smoking unobtainable for more people.

“A lot of people have a price, what we call a break point and if it gets to that then they go ”oh no, that’s it, I can’t do this anymore, I have to quit’, and they will make a serious attempt.”

But, Dr Marewa Glover isn’t stupid.  She knows that if you make something too expensive, or you effectively ban it, people will try to find a way around it somehow.  

But there also needed to be more innovative ways for people to quit and she wants law changes so products such as e-nicotine for e-cigarettes were more freely available.

Under the current law the sale of tobacco is regulated and people are banned from importing, selling and distributing e-liquid, which is needed for e-cigarettes to work.

Instead a person can buy nicotine e-liquid online and import it for personal use only, but they can’t distribute it pack it and sell it.

She said the restrictions were a real barrier to stopping people smoking.

A recent study by the Health Promotion Agency of 18-24 year olds found that half the people in that survey were interested in trying electronic cigarettes to help them to quit.

But unable to access the e-nicotine, the product was virtually useless, she said.

“I have been seeing people who have got an electronic cigarette and they managed to obtain for their own use sufficiently strong nicotine e-liquid. I’ve seen immediate quitting

It’s a consumer product that smokers are switching to, of their own choice. They’re finding it themselves, they’re paying for it themselves and it’s the most preferred quit method in the UK,” she said.

Ten years and nobody will purchase cigarettes or other sources of viable nicotine and that’s it then.  New Zealand will be smoke-free.   If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

Apart from the ludicrous justification of saying this is “consumers making choices” off their own bat, has anyone considered how this will impact our tourism industry?  You only have to follow the cloud of cigarette smoke to find them as they come off their buses to take a photograph and “experience” New Zealand and “all it has to offer”.

Sure, making things unaffordable is a way to do it.  But let’s not say that this is consumers quitting out of free will and willingly making choices.  The fact is that smokers already pay for the societal costs they cause, and they are already driven from all public buildings, most eateries and public events.  We’ve rightly shamed them not to smoke inside their cars or rooms with children present, and yet we still persecute these law-abiding people and their choice to smoke.



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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.