Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More on smoking

Two anti-smoking policy announcements:

1. The Victorian Government may sue tobacco companies for millions of dollars if they are found to have broken The Tobacco Act that prohibits giving ‘any sponsorship, gift, prize, scholarship or like benefit in exchange for the promotion of, or an agreement to promote, a tobacco product’. Breaches of this provision carry fines of up to $5 million per offence, according to lawyers for anti-tobacco lobby Quit. This follows claims that companies have been buying exclusive rights to sell their products at pubs and clubs.

On the face of it buying the exclusive right to sell your product at a particular venue does not encourage smoking or impose extra external costs associated with smoking.

2. Among a draft of anti-smoking measures the South Australian Government plans to introduce a law that punishes smoking in cars if children are present. Parents will no longer have the right to inflict passive smoking damages on kids (it is very dangerous for kids) and will be hit with an on the spot $75 fine if they smoke in a car with children aged 16 or less. Thanks Yobbo.

This seems a more sound policy since smoking in a vehicle imposes high passive smoking costs. Parents don't have the right to poison 'their' kids and kids don't generally have the option of taking alternative modes of transport.

But there seems to be no obvious way of stopping concentrated passive smoking damage within the family home other than by educating parents on the damages they are doing to themselves and their children. The positive step of encouraging parents to step outside if they want to injest carcinogens is a useful message.

15 comments:

not my real name said...

Number 1 might also be a breach of trade practices/competition law as well?

Sam Ward said...

"But there seems to be no obvious way of stopping concentrated passive smoking damage within the family home other than by educating parents on the damages they are doing to themselves and their children."

What about random home searches for cigarettes and smoking paraphenalia? If it is good enough for the drug squad, surely protection children from harm is even more important?

Why should the government stop at cars?

hc said...

Its a fair point Sam. I guess the transactions costs of intruding on people's privacy are too high. You might also argue that smoking in a motor vehicle saturates the occupants with nicotine.

But there is an inconsistency here. We do search people's homes for illicit drugs like heroin that are - in health terms - probably safer than nicotine. The argument that smoking is socially acceptible has never made that much sense to me.

Not-my-real-name, That's a good point. Write a letter to the Age!

observa said...

There are 2 issues here. Firstly road safety, namely the driver smoking or eating or using the mobile phone, etc. That's a reasonable safety issue related to driving on the roads generally. Then there's the problem of drug driving and the right of adults to alter their consciousness generally. If such a 'proscribed chemical substance' licence was instituted for adults only , including specific endorsements for achohol, nicotine, cannabis, etc, then that could rightly come with some strong conditions attached. No transfer of drugs to the non licensed, particularly minors. Passive smoking immediately breaches that and as well is out of bounds while actually driving, for safety reasons.(Yep I dropped a lit cig down my sleeve and had a collision with a parked car many moons ago)The licensed right to smoke(the poison of your choice) would not allow passive inhaling by minors and be treated as harshly as paedophilia. Failing to observe the rights and obligations of a 'proscribed substance' licence would involve the loss of that licence(not your car licence) It would then be assumed your addiction is problematic for others and needs to be withdrawn ie you need treatment. All the educative conditions, dissemination of info(material safety data) and licensing would be self funded. Abuse it and lose it at home or abroad.

Sam Ward said...

"The licensed right to smoke(the poison of your choice) would not allow passive inhaling by minors and be treated as harshly as paedophilia."

15 years in prison then?

I think you guys are getting beyond a joke.

"I guess the transactions costs of intruding on people's privacy are too high."

That's never been a problem before now, why would it be a problem in the future?

People's homes should have their doors kicked out by armed police and SWAT to make sure they aren't smoking or selling cigarettes in the presence of children.

It's for the child's own good to see their parents arrested/shot/imprisoned. At least they won't be exposed to a mild allergen that smells bad. The horror!

James Dudek said...

Are parents allowed to smoke with the windows down?

observa said...

"Are parents allowed to smoke with the windows down?"

Let me put it to you this way James- substitute 'parents' above for your kid's kindy or primary school teacher and answer your own question. Believe it or not, the latter are not allowed to smoke in the adult staff room with the windows up or down, or anywhere else on the school property for that matter. I don't see you or Sam in the streets protesting about that.

What I'm advocating is a consistent approach. Firstly the total freedom for adults to alter their consciousness in any way they see fit PROVIDED there are no(negligible?) social externalities. That requires a strict educative licensing system and don't tell me who has been around in industry/construction that it doesn't. The plethora of safety standards and chemical handling procedures, etc, are real and with us to stay in complex industrial societies. Ditto with chemicals to alter your consciousness. Farewell hunter gatherer nostalgia here fellers.

When we stop viewing smoking and boozing as any different from the plethora of other drug use, we'll start sounding like adults to our kids. No you can't have any because your body/brain is still forming. When you reach adulthood you can apply for your own specific endorsed licence. Notice this licence would need to include handling things like petrol, glues, garden chemicals, etc. Then if you don't have a licence for handling/purchasing same, the law is interested in why/how you have them. Get the drift here with minors? Yes it will be hard to police externalities at home like passive smoking, but at least a licensed smoking parent will be aware of the law and a concerned grandparent or like adult might be able to quietly remind them of their licence obligations, or else! At present we have schizophrenic chemical laws between work and home here, that are a hypocritical joke to young people. We may not be able to stop paedophilia, but we should never give up trying. It should go without saying that a big plus of licensing, is to take supply out of the hands of criminals, unless they're behaving like paedophiles with minors. Then we can all go after the bastards with total agreement and commitment.

Sam Ward said...

"Believe it or not, the latter are not allowed to smoke in the adult staff room with the windows up or down, or anywhere else on the school property for that matter. I don't see you or Sam in the streets protesting about that."

Schools are a publically owned building and the government has the right to decide its own policy in its own building, just as private owners have the right to decide their policies in their own privately owned home/bar/car.

"No you can't have any because your body/brain is still forming. When you reach adulthood you can apply for your own specific endorsed licence. Notice this licence would need to include handling things like petrol, glues, garden chemicals, etc."

Would this licence be required for other mind-altering drugs like Caffeine too?

What you are suggesting is that people will need to carry their papers around any time they do pretty much anything that involves leaving their house.

I'm sorry I called you a fascist earlier Harry, I just found out what a real one sounds like.

observa said...

"Schools are a publically owned building and the government has the right to decide its own policy in its own building, just as private owners have the right to decide their policies in their own privately owned home/bar/car."

Try telling that to every private school and bus operator or office/factory/restaurant owner. nowadays Sam. At present I can walk down the street smoking tobacco and not cannabis. Where's the freedom in that for me if you like tobacco and I prefer cannabis? I lose according to you.

As for carrying a swipe card when you leave home, you do now if you drive a car. Many 16-25 yr olds have to provide proof of age ID to buy alchohol and tobacco now, although the vendor is allowed to guess their age. The day you turn 18 you can walk into a liquor store, buy a bottle of spirits and drink it within the hour and buy another to do the same. (Don't laugh it happened to one of the lad's mates) If I want to walk onto a commercial building site I have to have my safety Greencard, which is renewed biannually. Tell me which is more dangerous? Presumably if I'm employed on the building site I know what I'm doing compared to our new chum drinker.

Would caffeine be a proscribed substance? Possibly, but thats up to the community to decide where the margin will be. There may well be a case for having adult and child rated soft drinks and foods here viz a viz caffeine inclusion.

I envisage the licence, really a swipe card, would allow the purchase of any endorsed product, from model aeroplane glue to ecstasy or heroin. You're talking about the era of bar codes on products and magnetic or chip swipe cards here Sam (we're getting one anyway to deal with govt soon) It's not costly rocket science. You get the educated poison of your choice automatically, but abuse it and lose it and as an educated druggie you're fully responsible for your actions under its influence. No copout defence allowed. I was pissed, stoned, yada, yada, yer honour.

Sam, you need to understand that designer drugs and man made chemicals require educated users and to do that we need to have a reasonably cost effective system of ensuring that. It would allow 'safe' pharmaceutical quality, measured doses of the drug of choice, unshackled from criminals and terrorists, to adults only. If you're caught say driving or operating machinery, etc under the influence, it's assumed your drug addiction is the problem, not your driving. You get treated accordingly and can still drive to work. Too many pluses and extra choice here to live in the past Sam. You sure you're not simply a conservative who wants some(his)drugs to remain naughty and anti-establishment, playing into the hands of crims and terrorists, while (your) kids largely think you're a hypocrite?

Sam Ward said...

"Try telling that to every private school and bus operator or office/factory/restaurant owner."

Try telling them what? I realise observa that the law currently proscribes many private owners from allowing smoking. I am saying that this law is wrong.

"At present I can walk down the street smoking tobacco and not cannabis. Where's the freedom in that for me if you like tobacco and I prefer cannabis? I lose according to you."

I think you should be free to smoke cannabis too. However, I am currently more concerned about preserving the freedoms we currently have that are under threat (tobacco, alcohol) rather than exploring the pipe dream of getting more drugs legalised.

"You sure you're not simply a conservative who wants some(his)drugs to remain naughty and anti-establishment, playing into the hands of crims and terrorists, while (your) kids largely think you're a hypocrite?"

If you've ever read my blog you will know that I am pro legalisation of all illicit drugs, so you'll have to come up with a better bait than that.

I think you have gotten confused because of my facetious comments to Harry about the drug squad.

Harry says "There is obvious way os stopping people smoking in their own home", and I pointed out that this doesn't stop governments from banning the use of other drugs in the home (Cannabis etc).

If they think you've got a heap of dope they will break into your house with guns drawn.

I don't see any reason why they couldn't do the same thing to make sure people are obeying the "no tobacco in the home with kids" laws that Harry suggests.

"It would allow 'safe' pharmaceutical quality, measured doses of the drug of choice, unshackled from criminals and terrorists, to adults only."

Yes, but selling the drugs without needing a licence would too, and would save taxpayers many millions of dollars and needless intrusion into their lives.

I think you are drawing a very long bow to say that using a drug properly needs as much training as driving a car does.

You open your mouth, you put it in. As long as you can read the dosage instructions on the bottle you should be fine.

Any card like this would just be an excuse to keep an eye on people's recreational activities.

You don't need a license to take Codeine that you buy from a chemist now, what makes you think it should be necessary in order to buy caffeine or tobacco?

I find this suggestion ridiculously unnecessary.

observa said...

Sam,
I understand the pure libertarian point of view here, but suggest that it has a certain nostalgia for the simplicity of the hunter gatherer lifestyle about it. Nevertheless our mish mash of regulations and laws in this area is now a product of the science of muddling through. I'm of the view that a more logical and consistent reform agenda , which promotes more overall freedom of adult choice, will require a quid pro quo in the form of educative licensing. That licensing can easily be a horses for courses one. Not always as draconian as a drivers licence, but more like a boating licence. To think that our society would easily slip from the regulatory requirements of your local pharmacist, to she'll be right mate and read the bottle is simplistic in the extreme. Doubly so for injecting complex chemical compounds. Here's the needle dude, just read the instructions. Who needs trained nurses in our hospitals?

There are all sorts of anomalies at present which need adressing urgently. For example, we slip from the rigid qualifications and regulation of the local pharmacy in the shopping centre to the 12 year old child in the mall chroming some complex chemical glue he just bought next door in the shopping bag it came in. Stony silence from all the intelligent, voting adults passing by, unless he's smoking a cigarette, in which case they can ask security to have him removed from the shopping centre to smoke outside. This is Alice Springs and hopefully he's not smoking too close to the aboriginal kid outside sniffing the petrol he just bought from the servo. Meanwhile the constabulary are leading away a man caught with a bundle of cash and some ecstasy pills. Welcome to our rational good society, when in industry I have to have a safety Greencard(licence) to step onto the site, to build the bloody joint in the first place, aside from the other appropriate licenses.

Sam Ward said...

"Doubly so for injecting complex chemical compounds. Here's the needle dude, just read the instructions. Who needs trained nurses in our hospitals?"

A.) Injecting drugs would not be necessary if they were legal. People inject drugs because it is the most cost-effective way of taking them, the same amount injected gives a better result than smoked/eaten.

B.) Diabetics seem to manage just fine with injecting themselves with insulin. Should they need licenses too?

"To think that our society would easily slip from the regulatory requirements of your local pharmacist, to she'll be right mate and read the bottle is simplistic in the extreme."

Im not really sure what this means. Pharmacy-only medicine is dispensed without advice already. You are expected to read the label and take as directed.

Advice is only compulsory with prescription drugs, and even then the advice is along the lines of "take 3 times a day with meals", which is exactly what is written on the box.

So that might be helpful for the few people who cant read, but for the rest of us it makes no difference.

observa said...

True, the actual application of prescription drugs can often be quite simple. However the right to apply, the dosage and the monitoring of efficacy, side effects, etc are clearly in the hands of a very stringent licence regime. My exemplary shopping centre can't even sell the glue sniffing child milk unless it's been pasteurised, but what the heck eh? As long as its inhabitants are all free to choose without any unnecessary restrictions.

FXH said...

sam - Diabetics basically do a version of skin popping not mainlining

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