So the new law has our tobacco displays covered up and there is talk of there being a requirement for plain packaging as well. I’ve heard oh so many people going on about how smoking will be (or should be) made illegal by a certain date. Staff in shops where tobacco products are sold are not allowed to talk about it or even open the cupboard door very wide. I remember when The Australian Rugby League competition was the Winfield Cup and we had the Benson and Hedges Fashion Awards. Removing sponsorship and naming from these events has clearly not made any difference to the numbers of smokers, so what will hiding tobacco products altogether achieve?
There is no mistaking that smoking is bad for you. The barrage of anti-smoking advertising on bus stops as well as throughout the media has made certain that there is absolutely no doubt about that. I am aware of the dangers and I still exercise my right as a thinking free adult to smoke. I am sensible about it, I do not smoke inside where I would be putting others at risk with second-hand smoke. My partner is a non-smoker, and agrees with all the legislation that is being talked about, but I am concerned. I’m concerned not from the point of view of being a smoker, I’m concerned about where this kind of thing will stop.
You see, over the years there has been a gradual shift to wrap us all in cotton wool. We have to wear seatbelts, get minerals (whether we need them or want them) baked into our bread and I have to wonder what will be next.
My tattoo artist has his health department certificate displayed in his shop. There are strict hygiene requirements that he has to adhere to and given the nature of his business, it’s quite understandable. His complaint is that in several years of having this business he has yet to have a health inspector come out to check his shop and hygiene practices. He got a certificate based on him telling them over the phone what he was doing. Then he was pulled over and fined $150 for cycling without a helmet. So in a situation where the only person who could get hurt was himself he was fined, but in a situation where he could be passing lethal diseases around the population no one seemed to care.
There is a lot of debate about whether fluoride is good for you. It’s clear that a little is good for your teeth, but I’ve read articles about how too much is quite toxic. When there is fluoride in our toothpaste, do we really need more in our water? Do we have any choice?
There was a law passed that made all bread manufacturers put folic acid in the bread. This is because some mothers don’t have enough in their system during pregnancy and don’t take it as a supplement. A lack of folic acid causes spina bifida in the unborn baby. Apparently, everyone in the country who eats bread is a pregnant mother now.
My daughter’s preschool sent home a list of acceptable foods for lunches. The staff had discussed what they considered to be acceptable and what was on the not acceptable list. They said that they’d take the “bad” foods out of the kids’ lunchboxes and return them at the end of the day. No nutrition training had gone into the list. I wasn’t allowed to give my daughter a home-baked chocolate muffin, but pizza, luncheon meat and salami were ok. I protested that as her parent, it was my choice what she ate and that I wouldn’t be adhering to their lists, I had to take it to head office, the Ministry of Education and also got the Heart Foundation involved before they backed down.
I don’t want to sound paranoid, but it seems that slowly and surely the small things in our lives are being regulated, we are losing our choices and at this point it seems like a good thing. It’s being served up to as as being for our own good and to protect those who aren’t smart enough to know better. Our benevolent kindly Nanny State is looking out for us. We all know the saying about good intentions.
What happens when there are no more little things to regulate? Do we then get to the big things? At what point do we suddenly wake up and realise that we have no choices left, that they’re all made by someone else.
There is a poem about the Holocaust -
First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.
~Martin Niemoller 1946
I’m finding this going around and around my head a lot lately. First they regulated for our safety (seatbelts and cycle helmets) and I said nothing because it was sensible and I used them anyway.
Maybe a little overdramatic, but my point remains. Where are our choices going? Where is the personal responsibility? When do we get to grow up and take control of our own lives? And at what point do we wake up and say enough?