Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context.
20 December 2012
“A cigarette is a stick with a fire at one end and a fool at the other.”
A Fact from the Book of Definitions.
Lest readers come away with the idea that Antigone1984 is opposed hook, line and sinker to everything that comes out of European Union, let us make it clear that this is not the case.
Antigone1984 is opposed to the market economy. The European Union is based on the market economy. Therefore, Antigone1984 is opposed to the European Union.
This is not to say, however, that the European Union does not, from time to time, come up with good proposals at a tangent to its core commitment to the market economy.
It does. And fields in which it does include, for instance, proposals for environmental protection and the promotion of public health.
However, these are second-tier add-on policies that run alongside but do not replace the locomotive of the European Union, which is the market economy.
One of these policies, in the field of public health promotion, involves an attempt to curb smoking.
Seven hundred thousand people die every year in the 27 member states of the European Union as a result of smoking-related diseases. The cost of treating these illnesses amounts to 25 billion euros. Another 8 billion euros is forgone through lost productivity.
The European Commission yesterday 19 December 2012 unveiled draft legislation to impose graphic images of the risks of smoking on all cigarette packs sold in the European Union.
The European Commissioner responsible for health, Tonio Borg, is quoted in today’s London Guardian as saying: “We’re not prohibiting smoking. We’re making it less attractive for everyone. Sometimes you need shocking pictures to shock people into stopping smoking.”
Glenis Wilmott, UK Labour Party leader in the European Parliament, is quoted as saying: “Cigarette packets should look like they contain a dangerous drug, rather than perfume or lipstick.”
She reportedly said that the European Commission proposal did not go far enough. “We need to get rid of all branding from cigarette packets, as it is the only space that the tobacco industry has left to market their products.”
Antigone1984 supports this initiative by the European Commission.
But we wonder, with Glenis Wilmott, why they stop where they do.
Why not go the whole hog?
Tobacco is a lethal addictive drug. Why don’t they ban it altogether?
As ever in politics, a degree of hypocrisy might reasonably be suspected.
The European Union not only promotes policies to curb smoking – it has also, in the past at least, financed subsidies to tobacco farmers!
Yes, you couldn’t make it up.
We well remember Communist – yes, Communist – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voting in favour of tobacco subsidies – because they had tobacco farmers among their constituents. Those same MEPs also voted in favour of measures to curb smoking on public health grounds!
Talk about running with the hare and hunting with the hounds!
The draft directive put forward yesterday by the European Commission has to be approved by the European Parliament as well as by the Council of Ministers of the governments of the member states of the European Union. Both bodies have the power table amendments. As a result, it could take as many as three years, we understand, before any measures become law.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.