Thursday, March 27, 2008

Its the Cool Way to Die

The subject of debate these days is whether you are more likely to die of tuberculosis or from lung cancer. The undisputed fact is that this classy way of making a statement,a symbol of women liberation WILL lead to death. Death it may be but atleast it is a cool way to die. And the deceased will forever be remembered as a passionate, bold and glamarous person who puffed in until he snuffed out.
I do sometimes wonder why I waste time reading news articles that quote the extraordinarily foolish thinking of my generation.Those who deign to agree that they smoke not for "cooldom" harness a strong disbelief for the fact that smoking surely kills.Even if its just people like me who strongly disapprove of smoking who read thse articles, there is enough hue and cry made these days about the murderous nature of tobacco( I do not mean the hypocritic statutory warning on cigarette covers).
A lot of interesting/shocking statistics are being thrown around everywhere by everyone.I shall not quote them all here(there are links for those interested) but would like to mention a few measures taken by some governments that caught my attention.I have indicated before that I find the idea of warnings on cigarette covers insincere. However,cigarette covers from Canada apparently have gory images of damages that are caused to internal organs!France made progress with their anti smoking measures whe they raised the prices of cigarettes by about 20 % and imposed a COMPLETE ban on public smoking(not conditional like closed room/restaurants/cafes imposed in a lot of other countries) and Bhutan is the first country to impose a complete ban on sale of all tobacco products...this is the kind of stuff that I like and approve. The fine imposed on people flouting the ban in France is 450 euros and people who donot bring smokers to law are liable to be fined 750 euros!From my previous blog, it should be evident to readers that I support heavy punishment, for I have little faith in self discipline.A whole list of less impressive measures by other governments can be found on the internet.
India is one among the countries in this list and is one that definitely should not be. Time for statistics...the projected number of deaths in India due to smoking in the year 2010(thats only two years away) is 1 milliion. Cynics who laugh that this is a service to the nation in terms of population control would definitely do greater service by shutting up.The "will be dead" will fall under the age group of 35-59, which is the most economically contributing age sector.The Indian government is trying hard...there is a public ban with a fine of 200 Rs for anyone who disregards it(I doubt many law enforcers are aware of this)...smoking scenes are banned from movies...there is more hullaboo about it's unnecessity(I personally think the cooldom did evolve from film stars, how many people try imitating Rajnikanth's "awesome" way of lighting a cigarette?)...tobacco is still the most valued cash crop.
If we are serious about preventing harm from tobacco, why are we not imposing a complete ban like Bhutan? Why do we still allow the growth of a crop that not only damages the health of people, but also make land unfit for growing anything else worthwhile?The answer is that there is big money involved...the relationship of law makers with tobacco barons...the contribution of tobacco to the economy(kill some to make money for others), etc, etc...
While people continue to die, the rest of us can atleast debate on whats right and whats wrong for we cannot take actions while we are lamed with kleptocracy, lack of self discipline and belief in the existence of a smart way to die...


Sur said...

You know Lax, it is just about the money. The tobacco industry is a great revenue generator and the government just wants to pretend that it cares, by taking soft measures and not stringent ones like the other countries, you've mentioned.

Vacha said...

This is picked up from an episode of Yes, prime minister, where the PM wants a smoking ban and the civil servant(Sir Humphrey Appleby) argues against it:

"If those who die of smoking were to live to an advanced age, then it has been proven that they would cost the Treasury more in terms of pensions and benefit payments than it currently pays out in medical expenses."

He goes on to state that tobacco taxes pay for the National Health Service:

"Smokers are national benefactors, who gallantly lay down their life for their fellow countrymen."

The episode is called "The smoke screen" -- its an eye opener...

Vacha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vacha said...

One real problem with smoking is that its so addictive that people generally will pay disgusting amounts of money to get their hands on the weed.

Complete bans may sound like a panacea, but I guess the problem with complete bans is that it opens up possibilities of black marketing for those goods, running a parallel economy, from which only gangsters/smugglers benefit.
Slightly better to let government make that money :P.

I think raises taxes sky high and banning ads, including ones at point of sales is much more effective.

But more than anything else, we need to make sure that the "peer pressure" factor gets thrown out of society -- since it is the biggest reason why young people get roped into smoking.

lakshmi said...

@vacha : I agree that complete banswill open up possibilities of smuggling(as is now hapening in France even with a price hike), but atleast the normal mundane person is saved from this. A casual citizen will at least reduce the daily smoke quota(in case of price hike) /give up forcefully in case of ban...It will also get rid of those who get into it just to "try" and then eventually get hooked on to it. And all lack market money is anyway shared between govt and smugglers, and in my point of view, they are all the same.
I am also interested in knowin the year of this episode that u mention, because France after it's substantial prics hike on tobacco still have a deficit of 8.5 billion dollars in their health budget. India certainly has more critical problems with smoking.Ban on tobacco products in third world/developing countries are more important because most people smoke beedi (which is less harmful than a cigarette) but is also much cheaper, with lesser taxes. And the quantity of smoking compensates for the effects.

Vacha said...

I agree that bidi is a huge problem at home compared to cigarettes and that something needs to be done about it.

But a gentle criticism of the following:

"And all black market money is anyway shared between govt and smugglers, and in my point of view, they are all the same."

There's difference between money collected as taxes (levied on cigarettes) and the black market money. The taxes have to be accounted for, so saying that black market money is shared between govt and smugglers won't be exactly true. Perhaps you mean the money between smugglers and payoff to politicians, but the scale of money collected as taxes would be much larger.

Yes minister/Yes Prime minister was a BBC series that premiered in 1985. Its been a while, but the issues are still the same.

lakshmi said...

Ya, I meant the under table payoffs...
the reason I asked u the date of episode was for statistics relevance, not because of the issues.

rs said...

cool way to die
and..the uncool way to live
their lives full of haze
and smoke is what they give..