This is a bit of a round up of the news. Firstly the European Union has been warned by Professor Ernesto Savona. Savona is professor of criminology at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan and the director of Transcrime, a joint research centre with the Università degli Studi di Trento..”that the crime effects of smoking demonstrates that there would be an increase in counterfeit cigarettes, smuggling, and hard-line new rules could be counter-productive..”
I an interview with the http://www.euractiv.com newspaper and said:
“The Commission should, I think, be doing what they say they do: looking at unintended consequences on crime, which means tobacco smuggling and counterfeiting, and how these will be influenced and in which way and in which place. ”
“The report makes quite clear that tobacco is attractive to organised crime. The more you regulate, the more opportunities you create, so the first point is to watch out for the regulations.”
“The more we know, the less there will be scope for the for wide difference between the two positions at the moment. If citizens want to pay for health with a cost in crime, that is fine but there should be awareness.”
Secondly a fascinating article in the New York Times on the Mexican cocaine trade.
“The Sinaloa cartel can buy a kilo of cocaine in the highlands of Colombia or Peru for around $2,000, then watch it accrue value as it makes its way to market. In Mexico, that kilo fetches more than $10,000. Jump the border to the United States, and it could sell wholesale for $30,000. Break it down into grams to distribute retail, and that same kilo sells for upward of $100,000 — more than its weight in gold”
“..Colombian and Mexican cartels reap $18 billion to $39 billion from drug sales in the United States each year…The drug war in Mexico has claimed more than 50,000 lives since 2006..”
“The cartel bribes mayors and prosecutors and governors, state police and federal police, the army, the navy and a host of senior officials at the national level.”
” In 2007, Mexican authorities raided the home of Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-Mexican businessman who is believed to have supplied meth-precursor chemicals to the cartel, and discovered $206 million, the largest cash seizure in history. And that was the money Zhenli held onto — he was an inveterate gambler, who once blew so much cash in Las Vegas that one of the casinos presented him, in consolation, with a Rolls-Royce. “How much money do you have to lose in the casino for them to give you a Rolls-Royce?” Tony Placido, the D.E.A. intelligence official, asked. (The astonishing answer, in Zhenli’s case, is $72 million at a single casino in a single year.) Placido also pointed out that, as a precursor guy, Zhenli was on the low end of the value chain for meth. It makes you wonder about the net worth of the guy who runs the whole show.”
The tobacco market in the USA is worth over $60 billion, the writing is on the wall.
Finally New Zealand have discovered turkeys voting for Christmas. Euphemistically described as the “End Game” it seems to flirt between the criminalisation of tobacco or where consumption is 5% of the population or less.
Background The New Zealand government’s goal of achieving a smoke-free society by 2025 reflects growing interest in ‘endgame’ solutions to tobacco smoking. However, tobacco companies have framed ‘endgame’ strategies as contrary to individual freedoms and ‘choice’; these claims heighten politicians’ sensitivity to ‘nanny state’ allegations and may undermine tobacco control policies. Public support for stronger policies could strengthen political will; however, little is known about how smokers perceive endgame scenarios or the factors underlying their support or opposition to these.
Methods The authors conducted 47 in-depth interviews with four priority groups: Māori, Pacific, young adults and pregnant women; all were smokers or very recent quitters. The authors used thematic analysis to interpret the transcripts.
Results Most participants strongly supported the 2025 smoke-free goal, recognised the broader social good that would result and accepted the personal inconvenience of quitting. Yet they wanted to retain control over when and how they would quit and asserted their ‘freedom’ to smoke. Participants identified interventions that would extend current policy and maintain the autonomy they valued; the authors classified these into four themes: restricting supply, diminishing visibility, decreasing availability and affordability, and increasing quit support.
Conclusions Politicians may have a stronger mandate to implement endgame policies than they appreciate. Participants’ use of industry arguments when asserting their freedom to ‘choose’ to smoke and quit suggests a need for denormalisation strategies that challenge industry propaganda, demonstrate how endgame measures would empower smokers and re-iterate the community benefits a smoke-free society will deliver.