As we see the end of 2022 and welcome in 2023 the attack on smokers (and vapers) never seems to let up. New Zealand wants to set the bar as low as possible by gradually increasing the age adults can buy tobacco. In theory we could have a situation where a 91-year-old person is forced to buy a 90-year-old a packet of cigarettes. New Zealand, during the COVID pandemic had some of the most draconian lockdown and authoritative restrictions under Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In New Zealand, the number of people who take Class A or B drugs 11% is about the same as the number who smoke, 12%. It may or may not be a coincidence, but I believe that the demonisation of smokers and smoking has led to people preferring hard drugs to smoking.

Sky high energy bills will affect the less affluent the most. Also, the less affluent tend to smoke the most. Cigarettes remain taxed at draconian levels, with over 80% of the price of cigarettes going to the government in tax. The government is shameless in taxing the poor.

As vaping becomes more popular it too is coming under attack. The Scottish Greens want to ban the display or sale of “sweet tasting vapes” in shops. No doubt this will lead to a black market where the quality could be dubious. Also, if the government want to reduce teenage smoking, it hardly is going to help.

Ireland has seen the worst of anti-smoker initiatives. There is a tax hike of 50% coming through in 2023 putting up the price to €15.80. It is surely an invitation for the black market, with all the associated crime that comes with it.

Also, in Ireland the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has proposed increasing the age to buy cigarettes to 21. So, you can have sex, but not a smoke afterwards?

Since I can remember smoking outside in hospitals has always been a contentious issue. In Scotland smoking has been banned within 15 metres of a hospital building. Never mind elderly and infirm people enduring rain, snow wind and the cold. NHS Scotland under Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has failed in 12 out of 19 targets, so it is good see they have their priorities right. In my experience most people rightly ignore petty rules where a safe inside smoking room could be easily provided.

I hope you had a great Christmas and on behalf of Freedom2Choose can I wish you all a peaceful and happy new year. There is nothing more enjoyable than your favourite beverage or drink, having a conversation while enjoying your nicotine.