I watched NZ parliament TV last evening, they were debating the first reading of a bill to introduce ‘plain packaging’ for tobacco products. The bill passed with only one vote against (an extreme right-wing MP). Some comments caught my attention (paraphrased):
1) ‘BIG Tobacco’ are currently challenging a similar law in Australia. The NZ Govt. will await the outcome before finally enacting similar legislation here… regardless of this bill passing all stages.
2) The MP who voted against it said that he was not convinced that this would have any real effect on reducing use.
3) It was mentioned that when the psychoactive substance act, passed recently, no such legislation was included to stop ‘legal highs’ & synthetic cannabinoids, having logos & other ‘attractive’ packaging.
4) The current right-wing Govt. are supporting this bill, BUT had previously voted against other bills to further regulate tobacco products. Is this just populous ‘electioneering’ in election year ?
5) As long as this product (which is directly responsible for about 5,000 deaths/annum in NZ) is LEGAL, efforts to restrict its use are only going to work, with people who want to quit or not start.
6) NZ law-makers are resolved to making Aotearoa/NZ ‘smoke-free’ by 2025, BUT will not consider PROHIBITION (as with other drugs eg natural cannabis) as they know it will likely only create another black-market !
Again I ask, why are Alcohol & Tobacco treated SO differently by legislators ? (could it be the real power is with the corporate interests.. pulling their strings ?)
Is it these same ‘corporate interests’ that are stopping serious debate about law reform to allow regulated ‘natural cannabis’ in Aotearoa/NZ ??