The annual budget was presented in Parliament today and it was the usual story--- cigarettes went up yet again. This of course had been expected and simply follows the trend both major parties have rolled out year after year.
There are those in our community, even hardened smokers who actually agree with the stronger measures taken to marginalize those addicted to tobacco products. The Government is the winner as they reap ever increasing amounts of tax revenue. This is not necessarily a bad thing as the tax take can then be turned to others aspects of Government expenditure, including alleviating some of the damage done by smoking.
I was having a discussion with a dear friend who smokes. He was a little angry at the continuing rise in the price for what is his addiction. I tried to put myself in his shoes. He made the claim that smokers are a target for the government simply because they are less in number than ‘fat people,’ including me of course. I think he was saying that the anti-smoking issue it is less dangerous electorally than that of dealing with the problem of obesity. I thought about that for a while.
He is correct in that assumption if not accidentally cynical. It is true that the overweight and obese are and are going to be an increasing drain on the health budget. As smokers diminish in numbers, his argument makes even more sense. Perhaps a time is coming when the effects of obesity and its accompanying costs to the health sector are going to swamp the resources of our hospitals. I am talking about the ‘diabetes epidemic’ that is getting worse by the day and other weight-related afflictions.
Why then he asks, doesn’t the government focus on the ‘fatties’ and the bad food that they (we) are so fond of. I tried to point out that this discussion has begun and that unless the problem is addressed, the problem of smokers is going to look tiny compared to the bourgeoning issue of our collective expanding waists.
Food for thought, maybe?