Lantern Post

Read. Think. Write.

Smoking in New Zealand

If, by chance or choice, you happened to be living in New Zealand and still wish to light a cigarette or two when mood takes you, it might not be as easy as simply lightening up whenever and wherever.  Those days have long gone.

In years since every cool man and woman on, and off, silver screen smoked and dangerously handsome cowboy casually lit up a cigarette on the heel of his boot in Marlboro TV commercial, we have been all but bullied into understanding that smoking tobacco is dangerous. And indeed it is.

So is drinking alcohol, eating fatty, sugary and highly processed food, taking drugs, having unprotected sex, and, depending who you listen to, the whole myriad of other things. Most of which hold appeal for number of people, if not for any other reason but for the thrill of doing something ‘naughty’. Yours truly included. Not for the thrill, but for the freedom of personal choice. Because there is a fine line between personal choice and regulations of it.

I neither dispute nor doubt well researched, documented and publicized dangers and health hazards of smoking. On the contrary, I support the effort to make every teenager, every man and woman fully aware of its risks. My own daughter does not smoke because of those messages, even though I do. And for that I am immensely grateful.  

I smoked my first cigarette at the age of 13. It was a ‘rollie’ my grandfather made. I still remember every detail of the ritual he performed to make rollies; the silver box with dented lid where he stored the golden, fragrant tobacco, old-fashioned lighter he had since the war and called it ‘fajercag’, super-thin cigarette-paper, and how he balanced it all on his lap while making rollies. No, he did not roll one for me. I stole it from him without his knowledge, and was a while before he found out what I was doing. He not only gave me a stern talking to, but called my grandmother to deal to me. And believe me she did deal to me! But smokes tasted like him. They smelt like our kitchen. And I smoked ever since.

My first jobs were in the offices where thickness of smoke in the room was proportional to the vigour of debates engaged in.

And then I arrived to New Zealand where nobody ever smokes inside any public building, including bars and pubs. Without the slightest hesitation I embraced the idea and never again smoked inside any building, including my own home. So rain or shine, if I want to smoke, it is strictly outside.

But every year it is getting little bit harder.

Initially it was enough to just go outside and light up. In case of rain, snow or generally bad weather one could stand in a doorway with doors firmly shut behind, to have at least some shelter.

Not anymore.

There is a law now prohibiting smoking within certain number of meters from the public buildings, and signs enacted to alert you to it. Absolutely no smoking is permitted on the grounds of any school, University campus, public park, and hospital. Recently, a campaign was contemplated to ban smoking on the streets of Wellington. The idea made it to the national prime-time news. Smoking pollutes the air on the streets and give overall bad image to our shiny capital, viewers were told.

No wonder smokers hide behind rubbish containers, at the back of buildings and generally try to make themselves invisible. If not told outright how very silly and irresponsible they are, at the very least long, concerned looks are bestowed upon them. From total strangers who deem it their civil duty. Because it is for the poor smokers own good.

What do we call a group of people who are ostracized for ‘their own good’?

For the same ‘their own good’, prices of smokes in New Zealand are astronomical. This is because huge taxes are levied on smokes. As deterrent. Meanwhile the Government collects lucrative revenues from the poorest parts of society, as this is where most smokers come from. To buy over-priced smokes they go hungry, and send their kids to school without lunch. There is nothing to suggest the Government uses money collected from tobacco taxes to provide free school-lunches, or in some other way improve children’s welfare.  So for whose ‘good’ is it then?

All those initiatives and campaigns are due to the Government’s commitment to have an essentially smoke-free country by 2025. No smoking in New Zealand!

We might have violence, (latest figures show one in four women in New Zealand are sexually assaulted before the age of 16, and one in three are sexually assaulted in their lifetime), child poverty, (230,000 New Zealand children live in severe and persistent poverty), unemployment, (as of September unemployment has risen to the highest in the last 13 years, with youth, those between 15 and 24 not in employment, education or training, at 13.4%), child abuse, (New Zealand has one of the highest rates of physical child abuse in the developed world), but there will be no smoking in New Zealand!  

The last campaign is plan packaging. Plain packaging means the removal of all appealing factors on cigarette packets. This includes the stripping of all brand logos, trademarks, colour and designs on the outside and inside of the packs. If plain packaging comes into effect in New Zealand, even embossed logos and coloured filters on cigarettes themselves will be removed.

All cigarettes sold in New Zealand will be packaged in one generic type pack with a single dominant background colour, the brand name in small plain font and dominated by health warnings, including graphic pictures of destroyed lungs and alike.

The Australia is already introduced plain packaging. As of 1 December, all cigarettes sold in Australia will be in plain packs. This after the tobacco industry challenged the Government over the introduction of plain packaging laws, but lost as the High Court ruled in favour of plain packaging.

According to the World Health Organisation, plain packaging is effective in preventing smoking uptake and relapse in three main ways: by reducing the appeal of smoking, making health warnings more visible, and decreasing the misleading perception about smoking. In New Zealand the average age to begin smoking is 14, and plain packaging is designed to target those age groups by reducing the appeal of smoking.

Three main companies dominate New Zealand tobacco industry: British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco and Philip Morris. Imperial packaging will not stop people smoking believes Imperial Tobacco since people smoke because they chose to so, not because of the packaging. There are now anti-plain packet views aired on TV. Their main message says: ‘We agree that tobacco is harmful. We disagree with plain packaging because it prevents companies using the legal branding they’ve created and invested in’.

The New Zealand tobacco industry will fight adamantly against the proposed law.

The big question is whether or not the plain packaging is going too far? Should alcohol and fast, unhealthy food come in plain package with graphic displays of clogged arteries and damaged livers?

The plain packs New Zealand website counters this by saying that ‘Tobacco cannot be compared to any other product. It kills one in every two users and is the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as the manufacturer intended’. I would have thought that consuming unhealthy food constitutes use exactly as intended.

Whether or not plain packaging will rid the country of smokers remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, millions of dollars will be spent on legal battles over the advertising rights and intellectual properties of tobacco giants with endless funds dedicated to legal fees.

I am now off to have a smoke stashed inside the dented silver box in the privacy of my back yard. Not because I support smoking in any way. But because I am free to make my own choice.  And refuse to be made into a second class citizen because of it. At least for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

27 comments on “Smoking in New Zealand

  1. jalal michael sabbagh.http://gravatar.com/jmsabbagh86@gmail.com
    November 10, 2012

    Explicit post.So true and so clear about personal choice and freedom.Next they will tell us what to wear and what to buy.You are a great lady.Jalal

    • Daniela
      November 10, 2012

      Thank you very much Jalal -;)!

      As you know, in some way and in some countries they already do tell us what to buy, eat and wear!

      Many thanks for reading and commenting,
      Daniela

  2. sharechair
    November 10, 2012

    Wow. I learned a lot from this post. I have not heard of the plain packaging. I’m going to learn some more about this. Thank you, Daniela!

    • Daniela
      November 10, 2012

      Thank you very much, as always the Lantern glows all shiny when you visit -)! Yes, we do have rather caring Government over here … some call it ‘nanny state’ -:)!

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

  3. Clare Flourish
    November 10, 2012

    I dislike the smell of smoke. It sticks to clothes and hair. On the minus side, now pubs here do not stink of cigarette smoke, they stink of stale beer-breath and BO!

    • Daniela
      November 10, 2012

      Hi Clare,

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting -:)!

      Smell of smoke is repulsive to lots of people and that of course is understandable. Personally I prefer tobacco smell to stale beer-breath and BO any day -:)!

      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

  4. Our Adventure in Croatia
    November 10, 2012

    hey Daniela, this ties in very well with a program shown on Channel 4 TV (Unreported World) last night in the UK. As more and more countries are banning cigarettes advertising (so sales therefore go down) the big tobacco companies are going heavily into third world countries, and children as young as 4 or 5 years old are addicted to nicotine. Read this link about the programme from Channel 4, and if you manage to view the documentary you might find it shocking, we certainly did.

    http://www.channel4.com/programmes/unreported-world/articles/the-making-of-indonesias-tobacco-children

    • Daniela
      November 10, 2012

      Hi -:)!

      Thank you very much for your comment! Your brought an excellent point! Just like all other dirty and otherwise undesirable, for whatever reason, industry, production, activity, smoking has now been pushed to so called ‘third world countries’! So child laborers toiling in the back street ‘production lines’ will have ‘pleasure’ of smoking as well as working long hours for next to nothing … despicable!

      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

  5. Waldo "Wally" Tomosky
    November 10, 2012

    Your article is very well written (as always) and fair minded. I have given up smoking (several times, sometimes twice in one year).
    Forgive me but I am about to get a little “yucky.”
    I worked with a gentlemen who complained bitterly about my smoking in my own well-ventilated office with the door closed. And as he complained I had the joy of watching him pick his nose; which he did constantly. Talk about being oblivious! He was the epitome of those who like to complain about smokers but never seem to see their own faults.
    By the way, do they have plain packaging for index fingers?
    Sorry, but this memory will NEVER go away. I have been emotionally damaged.

    • Daniela
      November 10, 2012

      Hi Waldo -:)!

      Thank you very much for you reading and commenting -:)! I appreciate your support and encouragement!

      It is indeed so; as humans we often see others faults very clearly and are ready to voice concerns, while in the same time remain rather oblivious to our own.

      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

  6. free penny press
    November 10, 2012

    As a smoker, I absolutely respect the rights on non-smokers. Have no qualms about smoking being banned in Airplanes, offices, Restaurants but if I’m outside, I draw the line there. Very insightful post..thanks for sharing this information with us!!

    • Daniela
      November 10, 2012

      Same here – I am completely fine with all that -:)! But I am NOT at all fine by having to endure derogatory remarks from passersby by and other self-appointed good doers, or for paying extortionate prices for smokes for so called my own good. As adults we should be free to make our own choices. Making information on hazards of smoking widely known is commendable, after that ought to be matter of persona choice.

      Many thanks for reading and commenting,
      Daniela

  7. makagutu
    November 10, 2012

    So is drinking alcohol, eating fatty, sugary and highly processed food, taking drags, having unprotected sex, and, depending who you listen, the whole myriad of other things.
    First of my dear, I think you should correct drags to drugs … then add ‘to’ listen in the above paragraph. you can delete all that of course, just keep the one below

    Enjoy your smoke my dear when it still lasts. We have cages in the city centre for smokers since there is a smoking ban in the streets and you see them all squeezed in this small space having a puff.

    • Daniela
      November 10, 2012

      Cages … now that is an interesting concept that evokes some rather disturbing images!

      As always thank you for reading, commenting and provide helpful corrections!

      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

      • makagutu
        November 11, 2012

        I will show the cages sometime soon, you may just have a good laugh

  8. ahmrita natural mental health
    November 11, 2012

    Great post! A client of mine once said, that she did not want to quit smoking, just because it is the only naughty thing she ever did in her life ;)

    • Daniela
      November 11, 2012

      Thank you my dear for reading and commenting -:)!

      I can so relate to that lady! My aim was to raise nearness that, while smoking is indeed dangerous, so are many other activities human engage in … and because someone choose to smoke that does not make him/her a second class citizen!

      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

      • ahmrita natural mental health
        November 11, 2012

        Totally agree with your sentiments!

  9. Mari
    November 11, 2012

    I agree with you completely!! I no longer smoke but I did for over ten years, and though by personal choice I never did so inside my home, I do feel as though more and more our choices are being made for us. Sadly, I believe sometimes it’s necessary because unless there’s a regulation in place some people tend to not respect the right of those who do not smoke.

    Great topic, Daniela!! It is definitely quite a controversy depending on where you live.

    Have a wonderful Sunday! (:

    • Daniela
      November 12, 2012

      Hi Mari,

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting -:)! I respect regulations and understand that sometimes they are necessary, however I support freedom of personal choice. Making personal choice also comes with responsibility to not harm others.

      Kind Regards,
      Daniela

  10. writecrites
    November 22, 2012

    My thoughts are in line with what Mari said above. Regulations are necessary because unlike yourself, many smokers, using personal choice, feel no responsibility to respect the rights of others. They feel it’s their right to smoke wherever and whenever they please and anyone who doesn’t like it, well, too bad. That’s the main difference between smoking and all the other things that are bad for us. None of those things (eating fast food, etc.) directly and immediately negatively affect so many others in the same vicinity. Yes, there are exceptions, and there are indirect costs to society from eating fast food, etc., but nothing so immediately and pervasively uncomfortable, irritating and life threatening as second-hand smoke. And yes, I used to smoke—two packs a day. The bottom line is this: It’s your personal choice to smoke or not to smoke (or do any of those other things that aren’t good for you), but your rights end where mine begin. And that’s why we need a ton of regulations.

    • Daniela
      November 24, 2012

      Hi,

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful comment. I indeed agree that my rights end where your begin, as well as vice verse -:)!

      Many thanks,
      Daniela

  11. Raoul Alexandersson Bloggar igen
    December 28, 2012

    Jebote yihaaaa Balkan whoman ..hide
    Great Daniela ..precha malo im swede -:)

  12. Raoul Alexandersson Bloggar igen
    December 28, 2012

    Hide ! Or litsen :-) yea i now him again ..yea great this are great reading

    • Daniela
      December 29, 2012

      LOL -:)! Hide I will,

      Cheers Raoul!
      Daniela

  13. gita4elamats
    December 29, 2012

    It is the same in Australia.

    • Daniela
      December 29, 2012

      Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, it does not surprise me that it is the same in Australia -:)!

      Best Wishes,
      Daniela

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