It is both ironic and tragic to note that, at a time when the production and consumption of recreational cannabis is being authorized (as in Germany), or is being considered for authorization (as in France), bans on the production and consumption of tobacco are multiplying everywhere.
The most recent attempt in this direction came this week from Great Britain, where the government has just tabled a bill aimed at permanently banning anyone born after 2009, i.e. aged 15 today, from consuming and buying tobacco. For life. In other words, except on the black market, tobacco use will disappear in this country with the last person born before 2009.
In fact, in Great Britain, tobacco is an essential cause of death. It is even the leading cause of avoidable death. It is responsible for around 80,000 deaths a year; it costs the NHS around €20 billion a year, not counting indirect costs; and 4 out of 5 British smokers started before the age of 20 and remain addicted for the rest of their lives.

Opposition to this project is very severe, particularly in the Conservative party, which fears it will lose some of the few remaining supporters it has before the forthcoming general election. And opponents are using arguments as clever as those of Boris Johnson, who can think of nothing better to say than to claim to be scandalized that anyone would dare to ban the consumption of cigars, which the great Winston Churchill was so fond of. Despite such unimpressive opposition, this bill could pass, with the support of the Labour Party.

A few other countries are further ahead: if we exclude Bhutan and Turkmenistan, which ban smoking altogether, we find New Zealand, which two years ago passed a law banning the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2008 (which a new government in Auckland is now trying to challenge); and also, Australia, which since 2012 has required that cigarette packaging be standardized, that a pack cost more than €30 and that the import and use of electronic cigarettes be banned.

Finally, Finland has almost achieved a total and absolute ban: through very high prices, the prohibition of differentiated flavors, the standardization of packets, and the extension of the smoking ban, which is very generalized indoors, to open playgrounds and public beaches. Once again, France (where tobacco wreaks havoc: 75,000 deaths a year at a direct cost of 18 billion euros and an indirect cost of 120 billion euros) is lagging far behind in prevention. Packets are expensive, but packaging is not standardized. The French government seems intent on banning the use of single-use electronic cigarettes by the end of 2024.
It would undoubtedly be rational to implement all these bans, so unfortunately necessary, before embarking on the path of legalizing other forms of drugs, whose effects are no less harmful.
On a more general note, I find it astounding to note the frenzy with which mankind manufactures products for the economy of death, at a time when it is having such difficulty equipping itself with the means for the economy of life (including those for health, which have been seriously damaged by the economy of death).

Unless, in this area as in others (which would be illusory), we expect everything to come from bans, we should no doubt get back to basics: creating the conditions for companies in the life economy to be far more profitable than those in the death economy. It’s not that complicated. It just requires a bit of regulation and differentiated taxation. This is as true for tobacco as it is for fossil fuels, processed food and many other sectors.

Everything would change very quickly. But who really wants it? Who will dare take on the lobbies of the economy of death?

It’s late… Let’s think about it before it’s too late.

Image : Pexels.