Society requires realistic behavior change

Years ago I viewed a British sitcom “Yes Minister”. In one episode, the Minister wanted to ban cigarette advertising to reduce the impact on the Health Ministry. The intent was logical until he learnt from the Head of Department that the state received huge revenue from tobacco taxation.

The official explained that the state depended on the cumulative deaths from cancers caused by tobacco. The deaths reduced reliance on pensions, housing, welfare and overall medical costs etc.

Walking in the city center, many, without masks, blow their cigarette smoke onto others. In the midst of a pandemic, we must ask, why are people allowed to openly smoke in public spaces?

What is evident, is that those who smoke, like those who consume alcohol, choose this lifestyle.

I suggest government tax cigarettes and alcohol to such extent that smokers and drinkers must think twice and hard. During the smoke and alcohol ban, prices increased ten times and people paid. The market forces are real and can be used. The tax on cigarettes and alcohol could be 50% of sale price.

It is unfair that the rest of us cover the hospital and related costs of a lifestyle choice. A serious tax on cigarettes and alcohol will increase government revenue and or drastically reduce hospitalization.

The chaos caused by alcohol use is vast. The impact of cancer caused by cigarettes is documented.

Logic suggest that the industry and users liable for the trauma, must pay for the damage inflicted on the reminder of society. Regular taxpayers cannot subsidize the lifestyle choices of a destructive few.

In the words of the wise, change is needed, the pandemic is a catalyst, that must inspire behavior change. As a society we cannot ignore the reality that surrounds us. Smoking causes cancer and many other illnesses. Alcohol abuse is costing taxpayers billions. As a society with so many unsolvable problems, we must be able to resolve those that does not require that much effort.

If a pandemic cannot be used as a catalyst for behavior change, then what else are we waiting for?

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress

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