Tuesday 29 May 2012

Beyond Plain Packaging

Regular readers may recognise this, as it has cropped up before. You see, crusty Aussie crackpot Simon Chapman has been mulling over the idea of smoker licensing for quite a while now that he has nothing to do since plain packaging was approved.

After a few months of deep academic thinking (stop sniggering at the back), he released a paper on the 21st of the month, but has now perfected it after contributions from fellow stark staringly insane fucktards tobacco control professionals.

You can read the whole thing here [pdf], and I heartily recommend you do so as it's a work of majestic delusion.

Beginning by comparing 'unique' tobacco with any number of other products which fit his pre-conceived idea, he finally settles on equating it with drugs requiring a "temporary licence" (a prescription, to you and me).
I will now describe an alternative form of access regulation – the smoker’s license
Drum roll, maestro, please.
Smart card technology All licensed smokers would be required to have a smart swipecard. This would be required to transact any purchase from a licensed tobacco retailer. No stock could be sold that was not linked via the in-store scanner to a tobacco user’s license.
Hmmm. That's very familiar.

It's quite a crystal ball Imperial Tobacco have there.
Penalties for unreconciled sales would be severe, with threat of loss of retail license
So, on top of the scanning equipment retailers would be forced to install, there would also be the threat of 'severe' fines. Playing with other peoples' businesses again, plus ça change. Chapman again arrogantly assumes that the entire world must bow down to his personal bug bear, regardless of cost. Like a child who doesn't understand why his Mum can't buy that Xbox right now, money is no object ... as long as it's someone else's.
Application for a license could be made on-line or at authorized tobacconists, with supported data-linkable, proof-of-age cross-referencing (passport, driver’s license, birth certificate) required to validate identity. The licensing authority would be able to validate these identities via data linkage.
Not content with imposing huge burdens on businesses, Chapman also sees no issue with a massively expensive database and hardware - paid out of taxation, natch - to administer the scheme. Of course, this will require lots of operatives on large salaries too.
Pre-commitment to a maximum daily consumption The smartcard license would be encoded with a maximum purchase limit selected by the licensee at the time license application. There could be three grades of license: 1-10 cigarettes per day (max.70 per week), 11-20 (max. 140 per week), and 21-50 (max. 350 per week).
There you were, one minute, allowed to buy a legal product on your own terms. Next, it is perfectly acceptable for government to dictate to you. Only the most extreme of those inconvenient libertarians would possibly object, eh?
Maximum daily limit There would be an upper limit of 50 cigarettes per day
Because, you see, Chapman has decided that you must only buy as many as he decrees.
Cost of license fee The license fee would neither be trivial nor astronomical. It would be set at a sufficient level to give smokers some pause in deciding whether to obtain or renew their license. Market research could be used to determine the appropriate level. For the sake of illustration, assume that the lowest level (up to 10 cigarettes per day) would be $100 a year (just 27c a day) and the highest $200 (54c a day). This could be paid in quarterly installments or in full.
And, as we have seen with the Scottish 40p minimum alcohol price - which is now 50p - this would not be ramped up from the moment it was set. Oh no, not in Chapman's world of unicorns and moons made of cheese.

He's only warming up though, because this is when it really goes doolally.
Newly licensed smokers would have to pass a knowledge of risk test ... Applicants would be given on-line educational material of direct relevance to the test, and a large, growing question bank would be developed based on this material, with random on-screen questions being given to each applicant.
Ooh, another new government department. I'm sure the Treasury will be loving this more and more.

Then onto the cast-iron belief, in Chapman's mind, that humans only associate with people of their own age.
Gradual increase in the minimum age for purchase [...] from a given year, the legal age for smoking would be raised each year by one year. As very few smokers commence experimenting with smoking after 23 years, the expectation is that the incremental, progressive rise in the legal smoking commencement age would effectively see very few people take up smoking when the minimum legal age reached around 23 years.
For someone who continually bangs on about kids (who are under the legal age, remember) getting hold of tobacco, this is something the clown must surely only have thought up while under the influence of some pretty strong drugs.

He is the architect of a policy - plain packaging - which has been brought in partly because kids still get hold of tobacco despite it being illegal for them to do so. Yet here he is somehow simultaneously believing that a raise in the age restriction would be impenetrable. I do wish he'd make his mind up.

Of course, those who aren't brainwashed in the tobacco control bubble will quickly recognise many flaws to his Baldrick-like plan. He has set forth a future strategy which could have been written by counterfeiters and smugglers, and they've not had to expend a moment of their time or energy concocting it. It comes fully paid for by the taxes of others and ready made to send their profits skywards. Not only that, but even everyday man or woman in the street will see profit opportunities in owning one of these licences. It's a slow drip steady income scheme just waiting to be exploited.

Non-smokers who currently indulge in the odd benefit cheat by massaging their income will quickly see the potential of owning one of these licences to buy fags for others at a premium, just as they currently bring baccy back from their hols to give to friends for a few bob more than they bought it. This is what happens when the public views laws as unfair or unduly harsh, and that's exactly how smoker licence dottiness would be received.

For Chapman, though, there is no risk from illicit supply at all. Because he's soft in the head. After arguing that poor smokers not being able to afford the licences is a good thing as they would have to quit, he comes out with this hilarious contradictory nonsense.
Would a licensing scheme increase illicit trade? Obtaining a license would not be onerous nor very expensive (relative to the cost of smoking itself), so there would be few reasons why most current smokers would not obtain one.
Because everyone has $100 to $200 just lying around in their account at any one time, especially the less well off.
A license would enable easy access to tobacco purchasing, whereas those without a license would need to take trouble to find illicit sources of supply.
"Trouble to find illicit sources of supply"? With Chapman's plan, it would be difficult to avoid them. They would be in your face like a motherfucker!

For someone of his age group, how can he forget when gambling was banned and there was a friendly neighbourhood bookie on every street corner? Senile dementia, perhaps?
Some argue that the illicit drug trade flourishes in spite of such drugs needing to be sourced illegally from criminals. The implication here is that many smokers are similarly willing to transact with criminals. However, this analogy is badly flawed because while illicit drugs can only be sourced illegally, tobacco would still be readily obtainable openly and legally.
Apart from those who can't afford the licence, are too young to get one, or haven't been able to pass his test, of course. Not to mention areas where legitimate sources might be non-existent after retailers weigh up the massive costs, coupled with punitive penalties, and simply decide not to sell tobacco.
The main explanations for high availability demand for illicit tobacco are the cheaper price at which illicit tobacco sells, the ease of cross border traffic in some nations, and the general level of corruption in which much illicit trade can flourish. None of these factors would in any way be influenced by a user licensing system.
Considering the cost of the licence, just High Street priced tobacco would be cheaper from a reseller than buying your own licence. Borders wouldn't be an issue with sympathetic (perhaps even non-smoking) licence holders in abundance on every street to earn a bit of pin money, and there isn't any industry more corrupt to allow illicit trade to flourish than the tobacco controllers who created it in the first place.

A licensing system would rapidly take control of tobacco sales away from government and into the hands of anyone who fancied dabbling in reselling. It would be contraband by government incentive.

To enforce it, then, a third new taxpayer-funded department would be required for Chapman's barking plan to succeed. It'll have to be serious cash too, seeing as the world and his wife will be in the tobacco business.

That anyone could dream up something so disastrously stupid is funny, but that his colleagues didn't beat him over the head with a heavy glass-encrusted club for being so idiotic - instead of encouraging the geriatric prick - is simply hilarious. Sadly, I don't think even dull-minded politicians are stupid enough to go for it, and that's saying something.

If we really must have plain packaging - which seems likely judging by the disgusting corruption going on - I pray to every God available that smoker licences be proposed here next. It could usher in some of the most delightful times of our lives as the public finally twigs - while respect for the law crumbles and violent criminal gangs receive a massive boost to their coffers - that tobacco control is comprehensively, irretrievably, way-out-there-with-the-fairies, pathologically, dangerously crackers.

Just imagine, also, the day when we see Arnott and Sandford being forced by big pharma to promote this utter garbage with a straight face. It could be the stuff of legend.


Simon Cooke said...

With each passing day the tobacco smuggling business looks more attractive! Is Chapman really of mafia stooge?

Jay said...

He's the Root of All Evil. Don't ya know?

…Zaph said...

Oh God, absolutely. Because I will publicly state that if this law ever came in, then I would be applying for the most expensive licence on Day 1 and selling off the excess to anyone who feels like paying me for them. I'd make a bloody fortune!


Another thing struck me. Raising the legal smoking age by one year, every year? I hope either he or me have misunderstood something, because that translates as everyone who was born after year (X) will never be able to legally obtain one of these so-called licences, because the legal age will be going up in step with their ages. (a ready-made market for me, then)

Eventually, then, all legal smokers would die out. Creating a huge shortfall in tax receipts for the government. How do you propose dealing with that one, Chappers me old mate?

chrissnowdon said...

But Dick, you're forgetting that the illicit trade is easy to stop. If people know where to buy black market cigarettes then the police can find out just as easily. Simples! This is why the black market in drink, drugs and tobacco doesn't exist. 

It's true, Professor Chapman said so. http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/glorious-idiocy-of-simon-chapman.html

Dick_Puddlecote said...

You could be forgiven for thinking so, certainly. 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Exactly how those of us on planet Earth would react to such silliness. It's incredible that someone in tobacco control didn't take him aside and let him down gently. 

You have to remember that, since the early days, dinosaurs like Chapman are just self-centred people who dislike smoking, not experts in anything other than knowing how to hate tobacco. They've posed as health gurus for decades as it is easy to disguise, but they haven't the first clue when it comes to business and economics.

As this car crash of an idea proves quite starkly. 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Of course, I forgot that the war on drugs could have been won in 1972 if only they'd rung Chapman when he wasn't feeding his carp. ;)

Patnurse said...

Crapman doesn't care about the black market and in fact he welcomes it because this isn't about health, it's about hate and smokers running for illicit fags to escape the licence will be prosecuted and hey presto - comfortably shoved into the criminal class. Crapman doesn't care if people smoke. He just wants them to do it underground and if they can be jailed, punished or penalised then all the better. 

 Govts will love it too because penalties will replace the lost tax and they don't care how they get the money in as long as it keeps rolling in.   There is a nasty method to his stark raving madness. 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

If government is able to replace £11bn pa tobacco with fines for illicit sales, they will have a crime epidemic of biblical proportion on their hands. ;)

c777 said...

He's completely barking.
Simple as that.

Dim Δημητρης Karagiannis said...

It's ironic though that whilst Mr Chapman wants to set up an Orwellian method of controlling the smokers , he is careful not to ask for the Endgame
i.e the hand that feeds him....

''A smoker's license may today seem a radical step towards ending the epidemic of tobacco cause disease,but it is far less radical than prohibiting the sale of tobacco which is not a strategy that has yet been supported by ANY international expert report.The New Zealand goverment in setting its 2025 smokefree goal ,did not say it would actually prohibit the sale of tobacco''

Patnurse said...

each pack of 20  at about £7 is about 80% tax. Each dropped cig end is £80 = a potential £1600 per pack of cigs. An attractive prospect for Govt. One case I sat through of a one dropped cig end brought in a £360 fine. 

Peter said...

 Zaph -- but if you bought the max (50) at the store price and sold them off, you'd have to sell them at a much higher price to make your fortune. So who would buy at this much higher price when they could buy them cheaper by having a licence?

…Zaph said...

People who can't buy the licences (remember, the age limits would be going up as well). People for whom the max limit per day isn't enough (and who says it'll stay at 50 forever?). People who fail the "intellegence test" proposed for these licences (know anyone who's failed a driving test because of a silly mistake on the day? I do)

Oh, there'll be a market alright. And I don't have to sell them at a much higher price. I just have to sell them for more than it costs me. That's how places like Poundland work.

ScottWichall said...

As much as I abhor violence, it is getting past the time where Mr Chapman is quite plainly deserving of a fucking big smack in the mouth.

He is really starting to get up my nose now.

The Blocked Dwarf said...

Sweet Jesus Wept....and there are some people who still think that it will be Global Warming that 'does' for humanity?

Jay said...

Didn't The Root of All Evil say he had a friend or acquaintance who was a counterfeiter? How else would he know that making fake fags is so easy, as he likes to say often.  So, yeah, maybe he does have a stake in the illicit market.

John Davidson said...

That idea of Mr lunatics will be the final nail that drives everyone to the Al Capones of the world. In fact it would basically destroy Tobacco Control in the short term as everyone buys from bootleggers!

In fact last year there was a story about the Canadian Supreme court that bootleg cigs were found on the street behind the court as workers take their smokebreak..........

One just has to ask is Simon Chapman in the bootlegger business himself to come up with such a ludicrous idea.

David said...

Some would see this an ideal opportunity to ensure that a minority group carry id at all times. In this case proof that any one seen...caught..smoking has a special licence on them. If so, perhaps even having it revoked (+ fine, of course) if pregnant, under medical treatment, dropping a dog end, being a 'nuisance' in certain places (eg hospital grounds), smoking where children are present etc etc etc....

Same could easily apply to alcohol of course. And fizzy drinks and the rest...I think I'm about to have a 'Godwin' moment.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Very good point, it would be a natural progression which TC would be happy to jump on. 

Messalina said...

Yes!  As much as I'm a peaceful person, I really feel this is a good time for an assassination!  The media can dress it up as a 'lone gunman' or a 'conspiracy theory' whatever they wish.  Just as long as he's off the planet.

Messalina said...

What about Simon Crapman's test for new smokers?  Do you have to get all the answers right to get a license?  How many chemicals are there in cigarette smoke?  Nobody knows. All the 'Experts' have completely different answers.  I can only guess that the general consensus is that it's a multiple of 4.

Mr A said...

I used to work in a corner shop and we got burgled frequently.  They never went for the till or the safe.  They always went for the stamps, the lottery cards and the fags - all hideously expensive, in demand and easy to sell.  What's the betting that a license for 50 a day would become like gold dust.  People would be getting mugged and the thief would be ignoring their wallet and iPhone and going straight for their license - especially now smokers have to smoke in the street and and thus advertise that they have a nice expensive license somewhere on their person.....

Way to increase street crime, organised crime AND criminalise huge chunks of the population.  Tobacco Control - true friends of humanity.

These people are just a cancer in civilisation.

junican41 said...

The Holy Zealots are clearly running out of ideas of where to go next. The display ban and the upcoming plain packaging laws are already clearly ludicrous in that they cannot possibly have any influence on children. However, how many people are aware that ASH ET AL are trying to extend 'childhood' into the mid-twenties? They disguise this wish by alternating the use of the words 'children' and 'young people'. According to them, 'young person-hood' no longer ends at 18 - it extends to around 24. What's the betting that they will be after extending the age for buying fags to 21 within the next few years? I think that we can also look forward to an attempt to ban the import of cigarettes which do not conform to UK packaging laws. It seems quite likely since one of the items on the consultation about plain packaging refers to 'cross-border shopping.

Watch this space..... 

Messalina said...

Childhood never ends!  According to the Nanny State, we are children forever.

John Davidson said...

Just like wearing the ''STAR of DAVID'' we heard about just 3 weeks ago by a west virginia politician has said!

John Davidson said...

Funny thing,children dont tend to listen to anything,but hear everything! The more illicit the act,the more they will do it. A lesson ASH has never learned.

Mark Ellott said...

That twat Julian LeGrande was floating this one a couple of years back. How, precisely will he manage to license those who buy abroad? Stop and check everyone at customs? How about those who reopen the smugglers' coves, then? Are they going to police the whole coastline - because, as sure as eggs is eggs, professional smuggling and widespread non-compliance will follow.

All of this is quite apart from the basic premise that it is none of their fucking business what people put into their bodies.