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Tobacco Prohibitionists Woefully Misguided

The public health lobbyists who gathered outside Parliament and ACT’s Epsom office today are woefully misguided, says ACT Health spokesperson Todd Stephenson.

“The professional activists leading these protests need to seriously get their heads around the dangers of the tobacco black market.”

“The radical prohibitionism they advocate would push smokers into the arms of gang members, who are already flogging off smuggled and homegrown tobacco at dairies and tinnie houses near you.”

“ACT doesn’t question the protesters’ good intentions. The problem is the health lobbyists leading the charge are hopeless on the economics of black markets, they’re hostile to personal freedom, and they’re disinterested in the voices of actual smokers who would be made miserable under a prohibitionist tobacco regime.”

“The previous government planned to cut nicotine content in cigarettes by 95 percent. That’s like going from beer to kombucha. Meanwhile the gangs would have an effective monopoly on full-strength tobacco, normalising interactions between organised crime and otherwise law-abiding New Zealanders.”

“And by the way, gang members don’t check IDs.”

“Tobacco prohibition is experimental, but not completely unprecedented. Bhutan banned the sale of tobacco products in 2004 and has spent the last 17 years fighting a booming black market, with disastrously high smoking rates.”

“The good news is that we can continue to lower smoking rates without pandering to the nanny statists. The reduction in smoking rates has accelerated in recent years as smokers have transitioned to vaping, a far less harmful habit. ACT applauds smokers making this transition.”

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