Nanny State

If there's one thing I DON'T do on 0ddness, it's politics. Generally, my reasons given are varied, but the most important reason is due to the fact that it causes many arguments. There's nothing that pisses me off more than seeing I have new comments, then clicking through to read people bitching and whining... Not at ME so much - I don't give a crap what people think about me or my views - but ripping the shit out of one another in a rude manner. Honestly, just because you're behind a monitor, doesn't mean the screen should filter out your politeness.

Hmm, tangent.

Anyways, in recent years, smokers have clearly been "The Big Bad" in the eyes of the government - regardless of the fact that smokers are plopping their nice, hard-earned cash into the coffers of whoever is running the country. The price of them has gone up and up, the warning labels have gotten bigger, the pictures of tumours, diseased lungs, ruptured throats or whatever have gotten more graphic, and in the last couple of weeks, they have now decided to HIDE the tobacco section - either under the counter or behind a screen... And NOW they are talking about stripping all branding from the packets.

It's at this juncture that I point out that I am not a die-hard, live-by-the-butt smoker. I have never puffed on a cigarette, not once in my life. Mum and Step-Dad used to puff away near-constantly, and for most of my childhood years, I stank of smoke. The ceilings had that nice yellow tinge. Clean clothes smelled of smoke. Hair smelled of smoke. And the mornings when the "grown ups" rose from bed, you could hear the hacking lungs and wheezing. I developed asthma...

No, smoking never ever appealed to me.

Now, that said, what I DO take offence to, is the way the government are so anti-smoking, yet depend on the taxes these things raise. I DO take offence to them thinking that the British public are so moronic, that we can't think for ourselves.

Now, the price of cigarettes I can kind of agree with. Sort of. Except that the way they are going, they are slowly pricing out the sale to people that generally struggle to make ends meet anyway. The higher the price, the more people can't afford it, and get pissed at the government. The price raises I can and can't see the point of to be honest. I'm on the fence.

What pisses me off the most is the warnings labels, images, hiding them, and the soon-to-be unbranding of them. Because, let's be honest, it will happen.

Yes, smoking kills. Yes, it causes cancer, impotence, breathing problems, circulatory problems... ALL of the nastiness smoking causes is well known. And yes, the warnings should be on there. But honestly, the size of these warnings is laughable.

My problem with them is, with people that have been smoking ten, twenty, thirty years... Do you honestly believe someone picks up their packet and suddenly sees this label.,, "Smoking kills?? What the..? Why did no one tell me that?! Did YOU know about this?! What!!! It cause cancer too!?! Holy shit, I need to quit NOW!"

As for the pictures, if someone sees a label that says "Smoking will make your bollocks drops off and you will die" do you honestly think that person will see a picture of aforementioned bollocks-dropped-off and decide to quit? No, probably not.

Now a few weeks back, they made "bigger shops" hide their cigarette displays. This, to me, completely cracked me up and pissed me off at the same time. Mainly, it pissed me off.

The official word on hiding them is to prevent the sale of them being glamorised, and to deter children from seeing the pretty displays, thus preventing the children from being drawn in to buying them.

For starters, children aren't allowed to buy them. You have to be 18, or 21 in some shops to buy them. YES, I am fully aware there are shops that serve kids. However, I am certain that little Billy doesn't go in the shop to get his comic, see the display, and instead decide to buy 20 Cancer Sticks over a copy of The Beano.

Children start smoking when they either experiment with other children (invariably with the ones they've stolen from home) or when some twat of a grown up gets them into smoking. If a kid wants to get them, he will. Most will either have someone of the legal age buy them, or have parents that cannot count, and take them from home. YES, some kids will get them from shops that sell to underage people... BUT - the display doesn't play a part in it. If a group of kids smoke, say B&H cigarettes, then they will go into the shop and regardless of what they can or cannot see, will order a box of B&H.

Let's look at it another way - if the government is correct, that hiding the displays will make people stop smoking, does that mean that there is not a single blind person on the planet that doesn't smoke?

Their next step now, is to remove all branding from the packets. They will have a name, and the very very useful warning labels *cough* but that's it. Because it removes further temptation from people to smoke them, as the boxes are clearly what draws people into it...

"Oooh what's that red and white box?"
"They're cigarettes, Dave"
"Wow, the box is sooo pretty... Let me try one..."

What a load of shit. Making the boxes black, white, green... Put barbed wire around them... Make each one create a puking sound when you take it out the packet... Make the filters from monkey penises... If someone wants to smoke, then so be it.

Can you stop people doing it? Ban it? Of course not - look at street drugs. They're banned, they're illegal, it's against the law to take them, to hold them, so sell them... That did the trick it getting people off crack. As soon as anything becomes illegal, you just have to work harder to get it, it disappears underground, and then you have a new battle on your hands.

Granted, I don't like smoking - and kicking smokers out onto the street was a plus for me. Nothing pissed me off more than sitting in a restaurant eating, with someone puffing near by. What's that you say? Having a smoking/non-smoking section? Yes, because smoke KNOWS where to stop... Going to a pub or club for an evening and coming home wheezing and stinking of smoke was not my idea of a good night out, and I don't want to have to breath their shite, so yes, kicking them outside - while still not perfect - was a good thing. And if you are a smoker, and want to puff you shit near my kids, don't glare at me when I make a comment about it.

And you have to wonder... Why just cigarettes? Why is alcohol not subject to such restrictions? It causes lots of deaths, is certainly responsible for most of the Ambulance/Paramedic calls, is responsible for so many problems on the streets - especially at Pub-Chucking-Out o' Clock. I've spoken to Police, I've spoken to Paramedics - all of them talk about the number of drunks they are having to deal with on a constant, regular basis.

So why is booze not hidden? Why is it not subject to plain labels, and stupid pricing?

Because for one, the government know they make shit-loads of money from it. Secondly, to remove alcohol from the reaches of the poor would cause proper rioting.

Yes, the prices of booze are going upwards - but it is still cheap, and I would argue, causes more problems than smoking. You don't often hear about a bloke having 15-20 cigarettes, then going home and beating the shit out of his wife. You don't hear about kids falling under buses because they had two cigarettes too many, and now the police have to knock on the parents door... Want to kerb booze-filled problems? Make people pay for the emergency service they need due to excessive alcohol consumption.

Gotten pissed, fallen down and smashed your head? You're a twat, and should pay for the ambulance and your hospital treatment. Gotten hammered and been arrested for fighting? Enjoy the bill from the boys in blue.

No, I know it will never happen. Again, the government know it will cause an uprising, and people will leave their lesser injuries till they have sobered up. And then you have to question, if you're drunk in a bar, minding your own business and someone starts hitting you and you hit back - are you liable to be charged for the police bill?

And on and on and on...

If people want to smoke or drink, then so be it. They will smoke and drink till their hearts are content. And filled with tumours. But please, don't treat the country like idiotic children that have been licking lead paint... Let the grown-ups decide if they want to do it or not - they know the consequences, leave it at that.

And no, this does not then correlate into "Then street drugs should be fine too" as they are a different kettle of doped fish all together. And a rant for another day ;)

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