In an attempt to stub out the addiction of smoking new tobacco laws have being gradually filtered into UK society throughout the course of the last year.
As of May 2017, any companies not abiding by these laws could be subject to large fines or worse.
But in an age that promotes equality and freedom of expression, are these Government laws just persecuting a minority? Has this whole thing gone too far?
For many people, having a smoke is as important as the other necessities of life, such as sleeping and eating.
As hard as it may be for non-smokers to understand, most smokers have a love-hate relationship with their habit.Eat, sleep, smoke, repeat, right?
There’s no doubt it’s an addiction, but is it an addiction some people are happy to have?
One of the major changes coming to the UK is the introduction of standardised packaging.
No longer will big brands such as Marlboro offer a range of colourful cigarette boxes.
Instead, all cigarette boxes will be sold in the same colour, known as ‘opaque couche’, a muddy green which has been described as the world’s ugliest colour.
Why? Because the Government’s main aim is to cut the number of people taking up smoking by making it less appealing to children and young people.
According to Cancer Research, two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 18 – the beginning of an addiction which will kill up to two in three long-term smokers.
Whether or not the new law will work remains to be seen, but think about it this way…
From hiding behind the bike sheds at school, trying not to cough as one of the Year 11 kids offered you your first ‘one off’, to hastily spraying your hands with cheap deodorant to stop your parents sniffing out your bad habit.
At that age we are all aware of the bad stigma around smoking, and we know it’s wrong. So we must think, if that cigarette we were offered had come from plain packaging, would we have refused it?
It’s been 13 years since smoking was banned inside public places, which is fair enough.
I mean, smoking is a choice, you shouldn’t be forced to sit amidst other people’s smoke and bad habits. In turn, outside smoking areas have become a breeding ground for social interaction.
Some of the best nights out evolve around been sat on the alcohol swilled pavement outside a club talking to your new best friend for two hours. I would never have met my wife-to-be if it wasn’t for a chance-happening like this.
But how are these newer changes affecting adult smokers? Many of whom enjoy the pleasure of a social smoke, whether it be in the comfort of their own home or a busy pub’s smoking area?
From now on, smokers will only be able to purchase a 30g pouch of tobacco at least, and ten packs will be taken off the market completely. In many people’s eyes, this will result in them smoking and spending more.
Of course, every argument has two opposing sides, so I contacted some of the UK’s leading smoking organisations.
Amanda Sandford of ASH, (action on smoking and health), said: “ASH is anti-smoking but not anti-smoker. We sympathise with smokers who regret ever starting and wish to stop smoking.”
“We believe that the Government has a duty to do all it can to help smokers to quit and to discourage young people from ever starting.
“It also makes economic sense as smoking imposes a huge cost burden on society.”
However, this still doesn’t seem to stop people from picking up a cigarette. There’s no wonder there’s such a high death toll, with approximately 1.1 billion smokers in the world, and 4000 chemicals per cigarette, well, you do the maths!
Simon Clarke, director of the pro-smokers group Forest, said: “Standardised packaging is incredibly patronising.”
“It treats adults like children and children like idiots. It’s an attempt to denormalise a legal product and, by association, the consumer, the overwhelming majority of whom are well aware of the health risks of smoking.”
“The suggestion that people start smoking because they’re attracted by the packaging is not born out by evidence. The reason most people start is because of peer pressure or the influence of close family members.
“Standardised packaging is a major attack on the consumer. It will almost certainly fuel illicit trade across Europe because consumers will be driven to buy the cheapest brands, including counterfeit cigarettes.”
Well, there we have it. It’s been proven that 100% of people that smoke die, yet it’s also been proven that 100% of people that don’t smoke die too. The choice is yours, or is it?