Puff, Puff, Pass

Smoking’s been in the news a bit recently. Well, it’s never really far from the news for the most part, but shut up and let me make my point before putting your hand up and end up being the annoying kid in class.

Anyway. Two sets of colonial cousins are doing fancy pants things with smoking laws. In very different ways. Well, when I say different, all I mean is they haven’t simply come to the conclusion that regularly raising the price of fags is fun, because “It’ll dissuade people from buying them”.

Wowzers.

The Americans, last Tuesday, in a couple of states (Washington and Colorado) actually legalised cannabis. Whoohoo. These can be added to a bunch of places in the states that have decriminalised getting high to different extents so far. This is interesting for lots of reasons, at least in my head, because Americans have rarely struck me as socially relaxed at the best of times (I am aware this is a massive generalisation, but remind yourself of our tag line if this upsets you – it’s at the bottom of the page).

Our (today, I have decided to be British) antipodean cousins have some pretty strict anti-smoking laws. They, from the first of December, will have packets without advertising, and pictures of horrible things. Very graphic. There is a proposal circulating in a medical journal about licensing smoking. As in you would need a license to smoke.

I don’t like smoking. Well, I love smoking. It’s just that I was all for the smoking ban in pubs and bars. I am also a former smoker, not the pious type, mind. I quit recently, so clap for me. I agreed with the smoking ban while I was smoking. The reason being that I worked in bars and restaurants and I had long hair and it was pretty rank. And passive smoking for 6 hours solid is pretty heavy on the lungs.

On the subject of the sticky icky, I am all for the legalisation of it. I won’t go into the different reasons why it seems a good idea, but I am glad that there has been some relaxing of the laws in the states. The number of people locked up in prisons in the states over marijuana offences is ridiculous and the pendulum has to swing back the other way.

So cigarettes are getting harder to smoke, and MJ is getting easier. In the most general terms. I like the idea of having a license to smoke. It will disproportionately hit the wallets of low income smokers, granted. But taking into account the amount of money that gets spent on treating smoking related diseases, this cost would make sense. The taxes on cigarettes no doubt end up paying for things like trident missiles and moat cleaning, so if they were to directly go to hospitals then that would be good. Though, I have always been of the opinion smokers shouldn’t get free healthcare for diseases if they are still smoking.

The legalisation of marijuana will no doubt bring tax revenue, and no doubt a bump in the very lucrative munchies business. Prepare for corner stores being out of Doritos. It is senselessly demonised in a way that alcohol and other drugs are not. Which is silly. You know what would calm your nerves? A doobie and some old school Santana, no need for that pharmaceutical nonsense. Because that shit’s addictive. You know how to take the edge off a long and hard day? Bong hits and videos of cats. Sure productivity may plummet. But everyone seems a little bit stressed out at the moment, so maybe this is going to bring balance to the universe.

Smoking is bad for you granted. Personally I think it should be banned (maybe). Libertarians would say that people should be able to do what they want (but they’re stupid so we can ignore them). But if people feel they can spend loads of money of cigarettes, they should also expect to pay their medical bills by themselves and not rely on state funding. Smoking dope is not great for you, but it’s not the work of the devil either. A license for each of these things seems sensible. It’s not big brother telling you what you can and can’t do. It’s big brother using your stupidity to pay for things you will inevitably want and/or need. So why not, loads of people smoke cigarettes and dope. Revenues from taxes and licensing would do good to go to infrastructure, and would stimulate the economy. As long as everyone was not on the internet, listening to Bob Marley,  or staring at the stars and saying “That’s far out, bro”.

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