Why is a Conservative Prime Minister following the lead of health authoritarian Jacinda Ardern in introducing a progressive smoking ban that will see everyone born after 2009 banned from buying cigarettes, asks Annabel Denham in the Telegraph. Here’s an excerpt.
Had Number 10 given any deep thought to a progressive cigarette and tobacco ban – which will see the age at which people can buy these products rise by one year every year so that, eventually, no one can purchase them – they would perhaps have realised how ill-conceived, illiberal, infantilising and illogical it is.
That the idea has its origins in New Zealand – the country that locked itself down for nearly the longest time and refused to let its citizens come home, and requires Māori theory of creation to be taught in science lessons – should have raised a red flag. Sunak, who recently re-instilled hope that he could be the true heir to Margaret Thatcher and cauterise the wound seared by 2022’s mini-Budget, has now aligned himself with Jacinda Ardern. He may be putting this to a free vote, but history will remember who put this legislation on the cards.
Much as Akshata Murty may have endeared and persuaded delegates in Manchester of her husband’s commitment to Conservative values, there isn’t a shred of Conservatism in this policy. No personal autonomy; the idea that people will make trade-offs – and sometimes choose the unhealthy option, such is the wonder of the human condition. Though more often than not nowadays, when it comes to tobacco, they don’t: the proportion of smokers has fallen significantly in recent decades: from half of adults in the early 1970s to just 14% now.
There was seemingly no consideration of the unintended consequences – the black market that this policy will buttress and the corresponding reduction in tax revenues. And, as usual, the nannying measure is being cloaked in the language of public health and justified on the grounds that it will help protect our socialist, creaking healthcare system.
Here are the facts, for MPs who may soon have to decide whether to wave through this awful policy. Smokers don’t cost the NHS money, they save it. A 2017 study from the Institute of Economic Affairs estimated a net saving of £14.7 billion per annum at the rates of consumption at the time, with the costs smokers incurred significantly outweighed by the sum of tobacco duty paid and the old-age expenditures avoided due to premature mortality.
Worth reading in full.