Give up cigarettes Invest the money saved Get richer, and get fitter
Maori who smoke.
I’m not usually a banning sort of man. I’m pretty tolerant of other people’s choices, but cigarettes aren’t really a choice thing. They’re an addiction thing, and as an ex-smoker I know about addiction.
Addiction makes you a liar, to yourself, to others. Anyone who says they wouldn’t like to give up cigarette smoking is lying.
But now we have e-cigarettes which deliver nicotine without the harmful smoke. Once they are legalised next year (oh, so slow!), I reckon a health minister really committed to saving lives would give cigarettes until January 1, 2025, and after that they’d be illegal.
History would remember that minister as a global legend, like Irish health minister Michael Martin, whose pub smoking ban was a world-first.
Sure, there’d be a legal battle. Tobacco companies would sue under our trade and investment treaties. But those treaties allow us to take measures to protect public health.
‘‘I never touched another cigarette. Instead, I got fit and I got richer.’’
Uruguay (population 3.5 million) proved that by fighting off Philip Morris’ attempts to stop it bringing in plain packaging.
I gave up ciggies when I came back to New Zealand around 15 years ago after leaving London.
I got off the plane and never touched another cigarette. Instead, I got fit, and I got richer.
A month ago the Government unveiled ambitious targets for improving Maori incomes.
It could double down by banning cigarettes.
I know. Some of you are thinking I’m a meddling dogooder who’ll be after your soft drinks, fatty pies and booze next.
You have an arguable point. I am arguing for a limited beneficial meddling in people’s ‘‘choices’’, so guilty as charged, though I’d die in a ditch in defence of my right to a reasonably-priced beer, and your right to eat sweeties and fatty life- ruining takeaways.
But just imagine if all the smokers saved an annual fortune by switching to vaping.
In many cases that’d be a couple of thousand apiece to stick into KiwiSaver every year, but you can calculate your own savings on the Quitline website.
And the Government sticks in up to $521.43 a year when you save into KiwiSaver.
That’s a hell of an additional return on quitting.
Come retirement, former smokers would all be laughing, as opposed to coughing.