A comment by Simon Bridges (Nat MP, Tauranga) during a debate on smoking in prisons, that the Electoral Act relating to prisoners was being "tweaked" made me nervous - we have to be very careful that we don't get carried away with our power to deny civil rights to any member or section of the community. Currently our law in this regard (voting) meets even my high standards of inclusiveness, and I see no need for extra exclusions as suggested by the bill currently being debated.
The difference between Human Rights and Civil Rights is especially important for those in these exclusion groups (those sentenced to prison for more than three years, or compulsory patients in hospitals or secure facilities for more than three years) some civil rights of whom may have been suspended, and constant vigilance is required to ensure their human rights are protected.
Which is a nice segue to the issue of smoking in prisons.
On a tangent, Judith Collins was completely unbelievable in her role as caring mother of the prisons, desiring to protect the health of all who live and work there. (I more readily see her with boots and whip, men in shackles cowering at her ankles....) The actual reason she wants to ban cigs from prisons could quite well be an edict from her leader Lovable John, who has a talent for coming up with positive new ways to be noticed by his peers internationally. But, for whatever reason, should smoking in prisons be banned?
Well of course it should. Absolutely. Smoking should be banned fullstop. Everywhere.
However, to single out prisons smacks of punitivity.
If smoking is to be banned in prisons, it should be banned in the community as well.
Allowing tobacco to continue to be sold in the community is crazy beyond words. An article in the British Medical Journal gives a 13:1 cost/benefit ratio for smoking. That means that for every $1 gained in tobacco tax, $13 has to be spent on associated health issues. Of course the addiction has to be addressed. Of course stopping is more than just not smoking. Smoking kills. No longer do even the tobacco companies deny this. And still tobacco products are openly sold. It's bizarre beyond words.
Before this turns into a full-throated rant about our right not to be exploited for commercial gain, best I go find something else to do.......
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