• To smoke or not to smoke – that is the question.

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    smoking-cigaretteSome issues like the so called “climate change” seem to many of us remote and far away.

    Smoking on the other hand is an issue which can affect all of us, smoker and non-smoker alike and is something we know about, will generally have an opinion on and an issue we can identify with. Of course it is also a controversial issue and one that will provoke debate.

    In the U.K. we have seen over the years the political establishment take an increasingly nanny like attitude towards a legal activity in which many adults choose to indulge. The advertising ban on cigarettes as one of the early restrictions. This started with TV and ended with a blanket ban including sports sponsorship. Latterly, there have been smoking bans in public houses. This has had a damaging effect on local economies often in poor areas and has resulted in many pub closures.

    Whether one is a smoker or non smoker, a drinker or a teetotaller, one should accept or at least recognise that along with a post office, a village shop and a church, a public house is often one of the key establishments that make up a community. Communities are important.

    Of course so too is public health. Of course in this country we have gone much further than the rest of the world. Today in the U.K. it can be said that only a minority of adults smoke. Decades ago this statistic was reversed.

    Today a report was issued by the World Health Organisation that stated that more than 94 percent of the world’s people are not protected by anti smoking laws causing them to be exposed to, “….the biggest cause of preventable death….”

    The WHO’s report, entitled, “Global Tobacco Epidemic” stated that smoke-free zones were crucial to reducing the harm caused by second-hand smoke, which it stated causes the premature deaths of around 600,000 people each year and cost the world economy tens of billions of dollars.

    The WHO stated that “….some progress had been made, with 2.3 percent of the world’s population, or around 154 million people, newly covered by smoke-free laws in 2008….” But it went on to state that many more premature deaths would occur if governments did not take action soon. The WHO report went on to state that, “….unless urgent action is taken to control the tobacco epidemic, the annual death toll could rise to 8 million by 2030….” AND “….more than 80 percent of those premature deaths would occur in low- and middle-income countries — in other words, precisely where it is hardest to deflect and bear such tremendous losses….” AND “….tobacco control remains severely underfunded, with 173 times as many dollars collected worldwide in tobacco taxes each year than are spent trying to get people to stop smoking….”

    It seems that outside the 1st World bans on tobacco advertising had slowed and progress on increasing tobacco taxes had stopped, with nearly 95 percent of people living in nations where tax is less than 75 percent of the retail price.

    The WHO is urged governments across the world to implement its framework convention on tobacco control, which 170 nations have signed up to. This asks signatories to put in place anti smoking measures and offering their populations help to quit smoking. The WHO report stated that less than 10 percent of the world’s population is currently covered by these measures.

    So, what does the British Gazette have to say on this issue ?

    Well first we should be guided by our motto, “Speaking the Truth unto the Nation.”

    What should this mean in practise ?

    It should mean that honesty and openness should be to the fore in this issue.

    For some time now there has been an accepted scientific consensus about the health dangers presented by tobacco. It is important that adults who wish to smoke are made aware of this and current legislation ensures that they are. It is alo important to have legislative measures that at least seek to discourage young people under the age of 18 from taking up smoking – although we know that most adults started smoking before they were legally allowed to do so.

    However it is the opinion of the British Gazette that the effects of tobacco consumption should not be limited to the health dangers so far as public education is concerned. Tobacco consumption should be looked at more broadly.

    The British Gazette feels that the political establishment has been led in its actions by the medical profession who with the best of intentions has sought to reduce smoking related deaths to a minimum. However a simplistic approach tends to obscure certain facts.

    From here, in typical British Gazette fashion things start to get controversial.

    Consider two hypothetical adults, Alan and Brian. Identical twins. Separated as babies they were brought up in isolation of each other. Alan became a smoker with a 40 a day habit. Brian never smoked. Alan drank – generally about four pints of beer every weekday. Brian was a teetotaller. Alan used to like “popping down to the curry shop or chippy” every other day. Brian was into health foods. Alan was a couch potato, who when confronted with the desire for physical activity lay down until the feeling went away. Brian went to a gym four times a week. Alan died of a heart attack whilst watching Coronation Street, aged 66 one year into his retirement. Brian died aged 96 in a nursing home after a long period of debilitating illness.

    Question ? Which of the twins cost the NHS more ? Alan or Brian ? The answer is Brian.

    You see what such as our dearly beloved Harriet Harman a.k.a. Harridan Harperson fails to take into account is that none of us are immortal. That we will all one day die. That is certain. What is not certain is how and when. These we think you will admit are fairly basic facts, facts that a Q.C. like dear Harriet should be taking into account. Obviously she has not. With an analytical capacity as lightweight as this, one wonders how many solicitors ever sent her a brief!

    Of course these hypothetical twins are contrived extreme examples to illustrate a point.
    That point is however, that for the most part the deleterious health effects resulting from tobacco consumption and also alcohol consumption occur after 50 and in particular after 60. In an adult population where most adults have worked from between age 18 to 21 to age 60 to 65, the economic effects of a population that drinks and smokes is obvious: the death rate for the post retirement population will increase with a concomitant decrease on the demands for public services for the elderly. Caring for our aging population is becoming an increasing burden on the taxpayer. Had the anti-smoking and anti-drinking and healthy easting programmes had NOT been instituted, the public finances would be in better order as more people would be paying alcohol and tobacco duties, more people would be dying earlier into retirement and fewer people would be requiring long term care for the elderly.

    These are the politically incorrect facts. Brought to you once again by the British Gazette.

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