Friday, 11 November 2011

Battle Lines Drawn For Business AND Individuals

Liberal Vision today carries a must-read article by Angela Harbutt detailing how threatening the Australian plain packaging legislation could prove to other businesses targeted by the health lobby.

It’s a tiny step from there to the decision that it’s the branding of the fizzy drink, bottle of booze, bar of chocolate, or burger that’s the problem – and stripping away the trademark, packaging design and strap line – is not just desirable but necessary.
Quite. The mimicking of tobacco control in attacking such products is regularly detailed on these pages, with each step which has successfully been implemented against tobacco now being pursued by those who are energised against alcohol, fatty foods, fizzy pop, sugar, salt, etc etc. And with each little victory, the focus moves onto the 'next logical step' in the tobacco control template.

Of course, anti-smokers have never been ones to sit still for a minute after achieving that one small law they urge is essential at any one time. The lightning swift diversion of UK bansturbatory resources following the Health Act 2006 - onto hiding tobacco displays, banning vending machines and smoking in cars, and also their own moves towards plain packaging - is testament to that.

So, another danger in allowing plain packaging to pass is that the insatiable anti-smoking lobby will move onto something even more absurd.

And we know what it is likely to be, since head Aussie smoke-hater Simon Chapman hinted at it earlier this year.

[...] over the weekend anti‑tobacco campaigner and University of Sydney academic Simon Chapman turned up the heat with a new proposal to make smoking history, through creating a consumer license to smoke.

Under the proposal, a license would give the smoker a right to a limited quota of tobacco supply, say 10 cigarettes a day or 20 cigarettes a day and so on. There is a fee payable to government to give the consumer the right to use tobacco. The more tobacco the license holder pre‑commits to smoke, the higher the license fee involved.

Under the licensing plan consumers would be asked to pass a test, 'not dissimilar to a driving test' Chapman stated, to qualify for a right to receive a license to legally purchase tobacco.

Based on the questionable notion that smokers lack an awareness of at least three decades of heavily publicised research about health problems that smoking causes, the government would see itself fit to decide for the smoker the amount of cigarettes he or she is allowed to smoke.
Well, you didn't think they were going to restrict their actions to just targeting businesses, did you?

Unabashed, someone claiming to be Chapman himself pops up in the comments to boast about his inspired idea in great detail.

• Gvt would announce and publicise a date after which purchase license would be needed – say 2 years hence (not talking about now .. obviously down the track)

• Current smokers: 1 year out, announcements about “apply now” with advice on processing time: 3m or so applications expected initially.

• All 18+ adults who wished to smoke could purchase a license on-line, after uploading a photo. There would be graduated options (say 1-10/day; 11-20; 20-40;40-60 cigs/day) each costing more as a disincentive to just go for the 40-60 (with thoughts of on-selling your surplus). Social Security & health card holders could get suitable discounts. With each year that goes by, households with computers approach 100%

• At any time, you could cash in the license permanently (no getting another one) – may act as an incentive to quit in future, particularly if the license cost say $100 starting prices (ie cost of about 5 packs of cigs).

• New smokers: those turning 18 and wanting to get first license to smoke would need to pass knowledge test. This could be done from home via computer, with large battery of test questions randomly rotated, to avoid easy selling of answer sheets. This could be regularly updated. Site would have knowledge test readings – at least as onerous as current 100pp driving test manual.

• At retail supply end: all retailers licensed, and equipped with smart card reader linked to national licensing database (which the industry would supply, just as they now supply all shelving). Manufacturers would be audited to ensure that all domestic sales were reconciled with licensed retailers. (ie: no domestic sales to unlicensed retailers); licensed smokers go to shops, ask for (say) “four packs of Winfield”: swipe technology immediately says “supply authorized” or “supply not authorized: only 2 packs able to be purchased today” (in the event that smoker had been smoking more than their pre-commitment number)
And in case you thought you might be exempt since you don't walk upside down ...

• Tourists: Set up license issuing desks at airports & ship terminals? (like now with the ubiquitous mobile phone & rent a car stands). Could be big business opportunity there…
... because not even free citizens of other countries can be allowed to dodge Australia's creeping totalitarianism.

Remember that anti-tobacco holds global conferences to share notes on their policies. If there comes a time when plain packaging is nodded through by our crashingly gullible Westminster representatives, all guns will be turned away from business, and onto ever more coercive measures to restrict personal consumption.

And, of course, just as with minimum alcohol pricing, once a level is set it will be regularly tweaked and made ever more restrictive with each passing year. Perhaps, even, as an annual ingredient of the Chancellor's budget speeches, as The Filthy Smoker pointed out a while ago.

And when they realise that it doesn't work, do you think they'll ditch it, or do you think they'll raise the minimum price to 60p, then 75p, then a pound, ad infinitum?
Likewise, if adopted, Chapman's plan won't work even if that was the intention. Instead, the cost of the licence will be ramped up to eye-watering levels, or the daily ration of fags limited year on year.

So, in the future when you've downed one of your 14 weekly units - complete with diseased liver decal on the glass - you used your government swipe card to purchase at the Dog and Duck, before blowing one of your four monthly ration coupons on a fish and chip supper on the way home, you can look back on the good old days when the target was merely big business.

The battle lines are drawn over intellectual property rights, but once that one is in the bag, the chances are that your own rights to what you freely choose to consume will be next on the agenda.

H/T The Aussie Informer


20 comments:

Carl Minns said...

Licences (entitlement cards) for fags and booze were flagged up by a Labour Parliamentary candidate in 2009 - he just saved his deposit!

http://carlminns.blogspot.com/2009/10/parliametary-candidate-endorses.html

Dick Puddlecote said...

Yes, I remember that Carl. Plus, the year before Julian LeGrand talked about the same thing.

Both were ridiculed at the time, but that was before the tobacco display and vending machine bans. Australia are even further along the road with plain packaging, so the proposal is far more likely to succeed as 'the next logical step'.

When we get to the same situation over here, the licensing idea will be brought up again and, this time, not be dismissed so readily.

The Apiarist said...

"New smokers: those turning 18 and wanting to get first license to smoke would need to pass knowledge test."

Will there be a practical too? You know, to make sure you know which end to put in your mouth and which end to light; to prove that you can light up without poking your eye out with the match, etc.

Anonymous said...

Bring it on. It will only ensure that the black market flourishes and government revenue plummet.

Our local drug dealer has already got a good side line on tobacco since the age limit was raised to 18, enabling him to encourage the under 18s to try something a little different at the same time.

Muppets.

Angry Exile said...

Still can't decide if Simon Chapman is more likely to be a friend of nannies and Big Pharma or a friend of tobacco smugglers and the chop-chop industry. If his dribblings actually became reality it'll be the latter two that profit more from it.

As for the plain packs, I've said it before and I'll say it again here - BAT, Philip Morris, Imperial and the rest should simply pull out of Australia. It's clear that the healthists will never be satisfied and it's also clear that the federal government want to please the healthists and also want to retain the tax revenue. The industry needs to make it clear that the government can't have its cake and eat it. Put 'em on notice that plain packaging will not be necessary because three months before that date supply of tobacco to Australia will be embargoed and the whole fucking lot down to the last leaf sold at the lowest acceptable margin in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea instead. The message to the government will be clear: say bye-bye to the AU$10 billion or so the fed and state governments get from tobacco tax, say hello to increased costs from trying to deal with the suddenly massively attractive (and it's already pretty damn attractive) trade in smuggled tobacco.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Puddlecote

And finally a calorie licence?

DP

Neal Asher said...

AAAAAAARGH!!!!!

nisakiman said...

AE has the right idea, and it would be great to see the Tobacco manufacturers do just as he suggests.

Much as one tries to avoid falling foul of Godwin's law in these comments sections, it is truly difficult not to make the obvious associations when anti-tobacco is the subject.

Several years ago, when discussing the "safe drinking levels" fuckwittery with a friend, I bet him that within ten years drinkers would have to carry a smart card loaded with their weekly allowance of alcohol, to be presented whenever purchasing alcohol at a shop or bar. Sadly, it looks as though I may well win that bet.

I never thought I'd say this, but sometimes I actually feel glad that I only have a couple of decades or so (probably a lot less, according to the "experts", given that I smoke and drink) before I depart this mortal coil. I don't think I'd cope with what the future promises...

Dick Puddlecote said...

Nisakiman: I genuinely pondered the idea of adding an image of a raucherkarte to the post, so understand your Godwin reflex.

And it's a regular refrain from Mr P Snr that he's glad he hasn't got much longer to suffer these bastards, so that sentiment is recognisable too.

Myself, I'm looking forward to being an annoying fucker for the hideous drones as long as possible. ;)

George Speller said...

"a smart card loaded with their weekly allowance of alcohol"

That was already proposed some years ago for under 25s by a Scottish fuckwit doctor.

Anonymous said...

Can we start to kill the fuckers yet?

Anonymous said...

I am a bit over the hill, but I'd still gladly beat the living shit out of that Quisling Simon Chapman, upon whose relatives I wish leukaemia.

Worthless little bastard. Given half a chance, I'd tear his throat out with my teeth.

Damn him. Damn him and everyone who bears the mark of his miscegenated DNA. Damn him, damn his family, damn his friends.Damn them all to Hell.

I may have omitted the fact that I am no great fan of Simon Chapman along the way. Damn him.

Anonymous said...

I remember well,, cigs in plain packets,weak booze in plain dirty bottles,plain deserted streets,
plain simple watch towers and of
course plenty of police in plain
clothes.The East facing side of a long wall was also very plain.
I remember well the final death throes of Marxist/Lenininism as
the then DDR (East Germany)began to
crumble but then the tumour of the
left donned smart suits learned new tricks and headed west where
Westminster.BBC Guardian and other perverted institutions awaited with open arms. The idiots in the streets just like their forefathers who sang on the way to hell on Flanders fields,
our new age idiots just dont know
what awaits them.

Glad I'm over 60

Anonymous said...

@Anon DDR

maybe, but we never took vengeance against the Stasi, the FDJ, Honecker and that worthless subhuman Ulbrich.

They did more damage to Germany than any Russian did.

Lyn said...

Nisakiman I know how you feel about not staying/being around for too much longer under this intolerable regime. The problem is, those of us who smoke stand a good chance of being around a lot longer than these idiots expect! After all, those that are living longer than any previous generation are those that grew up and went on to have their own families during the height of smoking popularity! That said, we may have to make our own way out!

Dick I appreciate your sentiment in your response, but the way I see it is these hideious drones are just far too thick, stupid, ignorant and self obsessed to realise that anyone is having a go at them in whatever form it takes!

churchmousec said...

To Angry Exile: Don't think that that isn't part of the plan -- tobacco companies pulling out. You will see chop-chop and criminalisation of normally law-abiding individuals. Individual tobacco-growing for home use will no doubt also be made illegal.

Be careful what you wish for.

This is how the anti-tobacco marketing is likely to be going forward (from the abc.au.net comments):

Jason - 26 May 2011, 8:24:@50 am): 'Those "university types" now constitute the majority of Australians who support the new measures. The number of people shamelessly hooked on nicotine fumes are declining fast, and with these new measures, will fall even faster.

'It will not be long before smoking is seen to be as immature as pot use, as dirty as picking your nose, and as socially undesirable as flatulence.'


There you have it -- Malawi and flatuence, Australia and smoking.

Churchmouse

churchmousec said...

To Angry Exile: Don't think that that isn't part of the plan -- tobacco companies pulling out. You will see chop-chop and criminalisation of normally law-abiding individuals. Individual tobacco-growing for home use will no doubt also be made illegal.

Be careful what you wish for.

This is how the anti-tobacco marketing is likely to be going forward (from the abc.au.net comments):

Jason - 26 May 2011, 8:24:@50 am): 'Those "university types" now constitute the majority of Australians who support the new measures. The number of people shamelessly hooked on nicotine fumes are declining fast, and with these new measures, will fall even faster.

'It will not be long before smoking is seen to be as immature as pot use, as dirty as picking your nose, and as socially undesirable as flatulence.'


There you have it -- Malawi and flatuence, Australia and smoking.

Churchmouse

Ed P said...

In the EU democracy is dead, subsumed by creeping fascism.
In Australia the economy is being deliberately destroyed by corrupt assumptions about climate.
Smokers, drinkers, fatties are all under attack by "people who know best".
Where may I apply to have my ID chip inserted? I cannot wait for these entitlement cards - give me the chip (the modern version of a tattoo) now and send me to the camp.
The whole world's fucked.

Lyn said...

I totally, Ed P - democracy is dead here and in the EU that is leading us by the nose.

How hypocritical we are to send our troops into other countries in order that they can become democratic whilst governments here are working their socks off to erode democracy at home!

James said...

Murray Laugeson of Health New Zealand goes even further - he wants to see a complete ban on importing cigarettes, with a few hardened smokers allowed to grow tobacco for their own use. It's one reasons he supports e-cigarettes - he sees it as making the ban possible.