Friday, October 05, 2007
Smoke Them Out?
This is something funny yet true.
A friend walked up to my cubicle today to talk about work and then started to talk about smokers' predicament as the company is trying to curb smoking anywhere within the office building... not even along the open-air corridors.
It is being suggested that all smokers will have to go outside the building where a large Mango tree is to be the designated smoking area.
If implemented, anyone from the 5-storey building will have to go to the ground floor open space to have a break... a huff before the puff. Rain or shine. Well, they have to hold an umbrella while smoking in the rain if the need kicks in too hard to pass.
Fortunately, I do not smoke and actually hate second-hand smoking... not the smokers though, just their habits. Fortunately too that none in my family of 10 smoke.
Personally, I think smokers are slowly killing themselves and endangering their families and bystanders from inhaling their exhausted "breath of death" at the same time.
I think they are taking the nation's cost of medical pie to support their habit's end result after they invited and finally develop some form of smoking-related diseases especially cancer.
Smoking is even lethal while in bed... that recreational puff can poof the whole house if it caught fire.
Anyway, back to the smoking-in-the-building-ban policy... it triggered my friend to talk about the bigger picture of the smokers' predicament in Singapore.
The authorities continually try to make smokers kick their destructive habit by curbing smoking in air-conditioned or enclosed areas, and areas where there are a concentration of people to avoid second-hand smoking.
That is all good and I applaud the move.
On the economic side of it, the authorities had increased the price of this legal drug per pack and had about a year and a half, restricted the cigarette pack from the various choices of 7, 10, 12... 20 sticks per pack to only just packs of 20 sticks available island-wide.
The intention is to deter teenagers from being able to afford using their pocket money to buy the cheapest pack of 7 sticks for themselves.
Now that the pack of 20 sticks has become even more expensive with increased taxation, the teenagers work around it by pooling money with their smoker-friends to buy the pack and share amongst themselves!
Formerly there were a few teenagers in groups of close friends hanging-out and smoking together, now the same groups have become even larger... and even more "tightly-knitted" than before, simply by banding together in this habit in the rush for "adulthood."
That is not all. Nowadays, teenagers can opt to work part-time to get extra pocket money. So with that buying power, a pack of 20 sticks each is a charm... however expensive it can get.
That would have probably resulted in each teenager smoking even more sticks a day, simply because the taste will be a little off after the 3rd day onwards. That is what the adult smokers are doing anyway... trying to finish the pack within a two-day period.
This is precisely what my friend was doing.
He was a 5 to 6-sticks-a-day smoker when his regular pack was a 10 stick. Since the ban of smaller packs to only 20 stick a pack, he started to increase his daily smoke breaks to 10.
The cigarette simply did not taste well after the 3rd day, hence the rush to finish the whole pack before it was "spoiled."
I guess, with the stubbornness of hardcore smokers and the lure of budding newbies make the efforts quite useless. At least one thing is for sure... the economics of taxing cigarettes to the all time high, benefits at least some "body."
Wonder what will happen if this island bans cigarettes altogether?
Will the hardcores retaliate with hostile abandonment? Will the smokers fight-for-smog be secretly syndicated and sponsored by the tobacco companies?
Internally, will there be a temporary yet lucrative market to benefit economically from setting up of cold-turkey centres?