THE constant price hikes for tobacco products are doing very little other than furthering the woes and struggles of those at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder, having the effect of making life more difficult and the need for the relief and pleasure of a smoke greater.

I do not believe the way to address an issue such as this is to take responsibility away from users of the product and to try and enforce abstinence. At the end of the day, smoking is a personal choice and should remain so.

Pious rhetoric from the anti-smoking lobby about all this and the much-vaunted "smoke-free NZ in 2025" is seen by those with insight as a sham. Why wouldn't it be seen this way? When 2025 prohibition is happening, if Government, anti-smoking lobbies, etc, think smoking is a source of problems now, then let's see what unfolds when Tariana Turia's baby is in place.

With some foresight, and also learning from past prohibitions, it must surely be clear that a lucrative and expansive black market managed by gangs and criminals, along with attendant social problems and greater expensive involvement of police and social agencies, are inevitable outcomes.

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Many tourists, too, will avoid NZ — especially those from Europe, where authorities have not taken such Draconian scapegoating to the level it is here. It is the case here, one suspects, because of an effort to divert attention away from other more pressing issues that are not so easily or conveniently dealt with.

Once again, it is largely the disadvantaged who are further disadvantaged while relief for such people by effectively addressing issues such as poverty, homelessness, income levels, etc, does not receive the same sort of animated energy from those who could make a difference to those struggling with such difficult lives.

PAUL BABER
Aramoho


River's consent?

$12.3 million to be borrowed by ratepayers to tidy up port — Chronicle, May 29.
Would the mayor clarify whether or not this decision is conditional upon Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms River's approval for this work?

BERNARD J CORKERY
Whanganui


Targeting Christians

This is not a religious rant. I respect your beliefs totally but the writer in me needs to say this.

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I am a non-practising Catholic but still regard myself as a Christian in that I believe in a higher meaning to what we do and, I guess, I just love the stories of the Bible. My life is richer for the fact that I have a faith. I do not fear death as much as I suspect non-believers or people of no faith do. My faith is up there with all the other faiths of the world, I simply have a faith as many billions of others do in this world, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist etc.

We are, mostly, each better people for having a faith as it makes us think of others before ourselves, it makes us try hard to achieve for those we love, it makes us always look for the good in any person, no matter how challenging that may be.

It makes us continually try to become better people.

As a Christian I respect another's faith totally and enjoy discussing different faiths with other believers of a faith, friends or otherwise. Some of the common denominators we all seem to have is an underlying belief in a higher being or power, a love for fellow man and an acceptance of others beliefs. I agree that there are certain adherents of all religions who do not think like this but the majority, in my experience, do.

We all seem to also live by a moral code, a very old-fashioned concept now but one that holds families together and unites nations.

I do not care what any non-believer thinks of my beliefs or of me and would not criticise them for this but I do feel sorry for them.

People who describe themselves as atheists are describing themselves as people of a faith, a concept I know that they would abhor. They say that I, and people like me, believe in fairy tales, but they at some stage must have read those "tales" I am sure as they all seem to be far more knowledgeable about my faith than I am. Are they actually hurt people who are confused and lost?

When an atheist criticises Christianity they show heir own narrow-mindedness, sense of loss and confusion. They are brave criticising Christians but they do not extend this criticism to people of other faiths, why is that? Is it a racial thing or are Christians easy to pick on because it is not cool nowadays to many in our society to be one?

ROB RATTENBURY
Whanganui


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