Brian Holden: Taxing smokers is for their own wellbeing

By Brian Holden

Twenty dollars now for a pack of 25 cigarettes _ wowee that's 80 cents each. Up $6 from just over two years ago.

Despite many smokers being now more determined than ever to kick the habit, there are still those who choose to be defiant to the bitter end. A drive around town will reveal many workers sitting or standing outside in groups snatching a quick puff during their break. Rewinding back to the late 70s when I used to smoke, I often thought about why tobacco companies made cigarettes the length that they do _ to make more money.

Think about it.

Most smokers will tell you that it's the first half of the ciggy that gives the most satisfaction, with the rest either being consumed just for the sake of it, or stubbed out. Such a waste.

If tobacco companies were as credible as they say they are, they would manufacture cigarettes half the current length.

This would make them much cheaper and arguably because of the less tobacco smoked, death would be postponed a couple more years. But of course this would mean a huge drop in profits.

What a sad state of affairs, reinforcing the words of my doctor all those years ago "Give me one good reason why you should smoke and I'll give you 10 against.'' Without trying to put them down, I can only concur that smokers who choose to continue to do so, are sadly _ suckers. Firing a volley of tax hikes at cigarettes is a tough, but necessary, move.

Now let's see the powers that be, finish the job with a far worse society evil _ booze. Read on. Sometimes it's just impossible to know whether it is stupid people who choose to drink irresponsibly or if it is the drink that makes them stupid.

Case in point is the alcohol-fuelled quad bike accident last week that seriously injured four adults and left a 6-year-old girl with critical head injuries.

You have to wonder what possessed four adults (overgrown children actually) to pile themselves onto a quad bike with the little girl at 11.20pm and go gallivanting about in the darkness. With a reported stack of pre-mix cola and bourbon cans on board, partying was obviously on the agenda. Definitely not a spur of the moment decision as a neighbour had seen them doing the same thing the night before.

The girl's father and two other men _ all intoxicated say police except for mum who says she only had one drink _ suffered multiple injuries including a dislocated hip, arm and leg fractures, lacerations and abdominal trauma. The local fire brigade, ambulance and rescue helicopter were called, the latter being a particularly difficult task having to fly in unlit terrain, using night vision goggles.

These four adults have put the lives of others at risk in order to be rescued from the outcome of their own stupidity. Seriously, I cannot for the life of me understand how four people can arrive at the collective decision to do something so stupid.

And now there's the blame shifting between the joyriders and the loss of memory as to who was actually driving the quad bike. Great to have mates and family at times like this eh.

Regardless of who was doing what, they should all have their backsides kicked, but then I guess that the nature of the injuries they suffered may be punishment enough.

Scary, is it not, that there are others of similar gutless idiocy who walk among us.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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