New Zealand a model for cigarette ban

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On May 24, New Zealand announced a 40 per cent hike in taxes on tobacco and will impose restrictions, like hiding cigarettes behind counters, that will attempt to force the country to butt out cigarette use entirely by 2025.

While many people may be critical of this decision, I applaud New Zealand for their bold move forward.

Unlike many countries that bow to the pressure from large tobacco corporations, New Zealand has finally taken a stand to end a nasty addiction that is frankly, a drain on society.

For the past few years, Ontario has been continually implementing a series of tax increases in an attempt to deter citizens from buying tobacco products.

Governments have been doing it for years, but clearly, this has not been entirely effective.

Looking to be more successful, provincial governments across Canada, as well as the federal government, have been placing restrictions on where citizens are allowed to smoke, causing a massive inconvenience, which seemed to successfully lower the number of smokers in society.

In addition, the legislation that requires retailers to conceal cigarettes has prevented the creation of an entirely new generation of smokers.

However, the logical next step to these successive barriers is to outright ban the sale of tobacco. There are a number of reasons for supporting a ban on tobacco sales, the most prominent of which is cost.

While tobacco sales generate a large source of revenue for the province, it is but a fraction of the cost that is spent on treating smoking- related illnesses.

The treatment of these illnesses covers a large variety of diseases that are immensely expensive, ranging from ear infections of children suffering from second-hand smoke, to the treatment of lung cancer of the smokers themselves.

The continued sale of tobacco equates to a negative fiscal balance; it does not only hurt smokers, but all taxpayers.

Besides the fiscal burden of caring for smoking-related illnesses places upon the province, tolerating second-hand smoke is a serious issue.

It seems you cannot walk down the street, or even a few steps outside a building without being forced to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke.

While there are signs that dictate a necessary distance from a building where you are allowed to smoke, many ignore such rules, suggesting a blatant lack of respect for others.

Walking through smoke is a vile, unpleasant experience, and only a complete ban on tobacco sales will stop it.

Perhaps most importantly, the negative health effects that non-smokers suffer as a result are unacceptable.

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 600,000 deaths per year that are caused by the inhalation of second-hand smoke.

Arguing that smoking is a right, and that banning the sale of cigarettes is a way for the government to encroach on the basic rights of the people is a valid concern for most libertarians.

Do not get me wrong, people should have complete control of their bodies, to harm them in whatever ways they see fit.

The issue, however, is not this simple, as smoking effects people far beyond that one individual. Put simply, your right to smoke ends when it starts to kill other people.

For too long non-smoking individuals have been suffering as a result of lobbyists and corporations.

It is time for all governments to finally stand up to large tobacco corporations.

If the millions of deaths per year is not enough reason to stop it, I do not know what is.

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