Now, on a straight medical argument I accept it's a no-brainer. Smoking is highly likely to kill you. As is drinking too much, or eating loads of saturated fat. Raising the price of fags will lead to a drop in smoking rates, and probably a fall in the number of people who become a burden on the health system.I rather like the comment by Tony:
But it's a finely balanced issue. There's a tipping point, if you will, around how much the public will tolerate of We Know What's Best For You politics. Labour sure found that out.
Yet the irony is that National is imposing policies Labour wouldn't have dared to do, for fear of being labelled social engineers.
From bans on cellphones in cars to crackdowns on young drivers, raising the driving age to floating raising the drinking age and lowering the drink-drive limit, and now whacking up baccy tax, there's absolutely no question National has its sleeves rolled up and is getting stuck right in to social issues.
I could add that none of this stuff was flagged by National before the last election.
How voters respond is crucial. Will they see this as common-sense, middle-of-the-road politics? Or more interfering in their lives? Given that such a belief - however fairly or unfairly held - was one of the principal reasons Labour lost in 2008, National should take care.
What was even more surprising about the tobacco price rise was how it came out of the blue, without any previous kite-flying. Given the Maori Party's fervent wish to progress this, one can only wonder whether John Key finally gave in to its demands and offered it the increase as a policy concession.
The problem is, it's awfully inconsistent. Why refuse to implement Sir Geoffrey Palmer's suggestion of a 50 per cent increase in excise tax on alcohol just one day previously? It's arguable alcohol causes more harm in this society than tobacco does, and is certainly responsible for more crime.
The answer, of course, is politics. National couldn't raise alcohol and tobacco taxes on successive days. And it didn't want to wait for the Budget to whack up baccy tax - which is the normal way of doing it - because it doesn't want its Budget known as the Baccy Budget.
John Key can wear looking inconsistent. What he needs to be more careful about wearing is a nanny's apron strings. (emphasis added)
tony #7 09:50 am May 04 2010
National have booted out the Nanny State...and replaced it with the Step Father State...he can pretend he cares as long as its all going well at work and he hasn't been drinking