Monday, 14 March 2011

...Cigarettes and Alcohol...

I haven't been blogging a lot this month, a combination of being busy at work/studying and the feeling out of the loop as all the main political action is relating to the Spring Conference season.  So far I have not exactly been the most supportive member (having only joined the party last year) however I am trying to improve, this week I will be going on my first leaflet round and I have been invited canvassing for the May elections which I hope to get involved in.

However one thing I do want to talk about is in relation to the recent change in legislation which means cigarettes will have to be sold in unbranded packages kept under the counter and the same time the recent discussions where a number of health groups refused to sign the Government's alcohol strategy.  There is an excellent post on the latter by Free Radical which I pretty much agree with.  All these measures (the hiding supply and minimum pricing) don't get to the reasons why people drink and smoke.  It is a firm belief of mine that anyone who wishes to drink, smoke or even do drugs should be allowed to do so, the duties on which should be used for:
  • Meeting the increased health costs.
  • Education.
  • Rehabilitation where it is required.
Rather than just being lumped into the "tax" pool as normal government income.

In the main there are a lot of responsible drinkers and I believe that many drugs can also be used responsibly but at the end of the day it should be the person's choice.  The government's role should be in giving real education to the risks that each activity poses and helping any who become dependent.  

I think Free Radical makes an excellent point:  

...where students do choose to go out less often some will actually drink even more heavily when they do - hoping to have one really good night instead of two merely good ones.

This will be worse for the person's health overall than moderate drinking a few nights.  Price pressures influence the poorest the most and are therefore regressive - I know from my own student days I always found the money for a night out.  Restricting the sale of cigarettes is likely to hit the smaller shops harder than big supermarkets and wont stop those people who already smoke.  This wont be a case of out of sight out of mind, I have watched many people try and give up smoking and it is never out of mind!

The previous Labour Government tried to micromanage our lives, I really hope the Coalition wont fall into this trap.

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