Date: November 2018
Author: Inspector Z

A few weeks ago, secretary of state Blokhuis, from the smallest party in the current government, announced plans to make it create a smoke free generation that can’t afford to smoke, drink alcohol or afford soda. But since he announced his plans the Dutch people fought back, so hard that now even the coalition partners VVD, CDA and D66 actually say that his ideas are too harsh. So said CDA that they fear that hardworking retailers might not survive when tobacco prices skyrocket to extreme prices.

Motivaction, a research company, asked 2279 people a few questions about the proposed regulations and the outcome was that 79% of the people think that further restrictions on alcohol of tobacco for adults is a step too far and 70% of the respondents said that they feel that the government has no right to dictate people how to life and what to eat.

As far as plain packaging, 68% claims that it’s useless, only 10% of the respondents feel it’s important. But data from Australia shows that plain packaging only cause tobacco fraud, illegal imports and it doesn’t stop people from smoking anyway. That’s why 75% of the respondents want The Netherlands to follow Germany and Sweden. Germany and Sweden are doing more research on the effects of plain packaging.

Data from Australia showed that after the implementation of plain packaging, the decline in the number of smokers stopped for the first time in decades. And the illegal market grew to 15%, a record breaking high. That forced Australia to form a tobacco taskforce within the legal department. Forbes wrote a great article about that, you can read it here.

Another poll, from the radioshow showed the same percentages.

Psychologist Andre Doorlag, a cigar smoker, published a column in a newspaper. He explained that smoking is a moment of piece and he thinks that the rising number of burn outs are directly linked to the declining number of smokers. He also explained that only 35% of illnesses are a result of lifestyle, the other 65% comes from stress, being unhappy and other psychological influences. And if a cigar makes you happy, then it’s better for your health to smoke one every day and be happy than be an unhappy, healthy eating person.

Sasja van Horssen wrote a letter to the largest newspaper in The Netherlands and got published. In his appeal to common sense he wrote that he’s been working 60 hours a week for almost thirty years, pays more taxes than an average citizen but that the ever growing legislation really takes the fun out of the business. And that all the implemented and proposed regulations are actually a pain in the ass for small companies but in favour of big tobacco. His suggestion is to go back to the old ways, where tobacco was only allowed in specialised tobacco shops with license. Get the cigarettes out of the supermarkets, gasstations etcetera and only in specialised tobacco shops. And that’s a solution that we have been supporting for years.

Furthermore Ton Wurtz, chairman of Rokersbelangen, a group that represents smokers in The Netherlands got a full page too, where he explains that the hunt for the tobacco user has been opened. He even goes so far as claiming that the majority is using democracy as a dictatorial regime when it comes to smoking. He factually proves that the numbers that Blokhuis is using when he claims that ’80% of the smokers want to quit” come from a five year old study, and that the questioning in that study was completely different than the way Blokhuis is using it now.

Of course, there is also a doctor, Pauline Dekker, that has to say that the suggested legislation comes way too late. But in her opinion piece she shows complete ignorance. She claims that smoking has a negative health effect of 2.4 bilion euro in The Netherlands. What she doesn’t mention is that smokers pay 2.5 billion in tobacco taxes, so that argument is completely void. Just like many other arguments used by the anti-smoke lobby.

It also looks like the government learned nothing from further failures. A few years ago they raised the tax on cigarettes, while neighbouring countries Belgium and Germany didn’t. The government expected more tax income, but the price difference with especially Belgium became so huge that even all the way up in Northern Netherlands you saw Belgian packs of cigarettes and roll your own. People would drive to Belgium, fill up their cars, drive back and sell it for a small profit to friends, making their trip free and their friends happy. When the government noticed a decline in tobacco tax, they praised themselves since “people smoke less” but also “we expected more tax income, we need to raise the tobacco tax again”. Common sense is gone when it comes to tobacco, and we, the peaceful cigar smokers are victims. Victims of ego boosting politicians, the nasty cigarette industry and fear mongers that rally up the people with partial or wrongful information. It has to stop.

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