Editorial

Ban on single cigarette sales: watch out for the whiners

Summary

Watch out for those who say ‘there’ll bea hike in illicit cigarette sales’ and ‘Government will lose revenue’ for are probably in the pay of the tobacco and alcohol industries.

The Government, upon the recommendations of the National Authority on Tobacco and Alcohol (NATA), is set to ban the sale of single cigarettes. Cigarettes, according to research, is a key gateway to other narcotic drugs.
The ban would discourage purchase. Any move that makes it difficult for people to obtain cigarettes has to be positive. Banning smoking in public places was also a good decision. Plain packaging should have been made mandatory a long time ago.

‘Gateway’ is a key term here. The liquid equivalent would be beer. The previous government acted to reduce the price of beer. The argument was ‘to make it affordable.’ That’s eyewash. It’s a gateway drink. Revenue lost would be more than compensated for in the long run as people move from beer to more toxic beverages. The alcohol industry needs new customers. They have been in this business for a long time and they know the patterns well. They know how to make bucks.

The beer move was obfuscated by its champions by proposing the ‘progressive’ amendment of allowing women to work in alcohol serving restaurant and of course to purchase alcohol. It’s part of the election promise to affirm gender equality they said.

Here’s the context:

The  National Action Plan for the Protection and Protection of Human Rights (2017-2021) of the previous regime devoted 22 pages to the rights of women (pages 37-58). There were 26 goals therein, 40 objectives of which 29 were considered deliverable in the short-term and 99 activities. Only one goal, No 6, is about the promotion of women’s economic rights and independence, including access to employment. The relevant objective is worded thus: increased participation of women in the state and private sector employment. It’s a medium-long term goal.

[For the record the seemingly comprehensive document on human rights says nothing of forced female genital circumcision or of gender inequalities related to marriage-age, divorce procedures etc.]

So the ‘gender issue’ was a dead cat that was thrown onto the table. The reduced beer price was displaced from the discussion.

We could expect more of the same.

Look out for cries of horror about this move precipitating a hike in illicit cigarette sales.
 Look out for reiteration of arguments about loss of revenue through taxes.  

Watch out for those who would articulate these views. 
They are probably in the pay of the tobacco and alcohol industries. They cannot be nationalists. They cannot claim to have the well being of the citizens at heart.

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