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Let’s declare our intent to ban trade in tobacco

John Crown: Tobaccolypse Now! No butts. . .

Let’s declare our intent to ban trade in tobacco. The case for governments declaring an intent to ban all commerce in tobacco is simply unanswerable.

While they will deny it, the business plan of Big Tobacco companies can be summarised in four words: “Addict children to carcinogens.”

A carcinogen is of course a cancer-causing substance. Tobacco is the most potent cancer-causing agent which can be legally manufactured or sold at present. Substances with only a fraction of the carcinogenic potential of tobacco are now routinely banned.

If tobacco were discovered for the first time tomorrow, there is precisely zero chance that any country would allow it to be produced or traded.

Tobacco farmers, cigarette manufacturers, supermarkets and even mom-and-pop local stores who sell cigarettes are all engaged in the provision of cancer-causing toxins to addicts, people whose very addiction diminishes their ability to exercise free choice. Nearly every smoker you know wants to stop. Nearly every smoker you know started in childhood.

There can be no weasel-wording around this issue — the tobacco trade is an evil, immoral but currently legal enterprise.

It is now time to consider banning all commerce in tobacco by a fixed future date. There should be a realistically long enough timeframe to allow for our societies to reformat their economies to a post- “Tobaccolyptic” world.

We need to give the farmers time to prepare to grow something more worthwhile than tobacco.

It will give the Big Tobacco companies time to reformat their factories. It will give pension managers, hedge funds and other investment houses time to redirect their investments.

Eradication of smoking would bring nothing but benefit to individuals, families and societies.

Lung cancer, currently the leading cause of cancer death in most countries, would become an uncommon disease. Childhood asthma and other paediatric illnesses caused by passive smoking would decline.

Contrary to much current commentary, the economic benefits would be immense and immediate.

It is sometimes fatuously argued that our governments, addicted as they are to tobacco tax revenues, could not afford mass smoking cessation. This is balderdash. Government health costs would go down, as would sick pay.

We should commit to the goal of eradicating all commerce in tobacco by the year 2030.

Would such a measure feed a black market? Probably yes. However, the principal weapons of the pro-addiction, pro-smoking pro-death lobby would be instantly defanged. All of those PR companies, all of those political donations, all of those lobbyists, all of those billions which are devoted to ensuring that your children will have the right to become addicted to cancer causers will be gone.

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