Posted by: Tanmoy Chakrabarti | February 4, 2009

Intent

Smoking in NZ is an expensive proposition. A pack of 20 Marlboro Lights costs $11.50! That too comes with written as well as disgusting pictorial warnings.

Sign in a bus stop

Sign in a bus stop

Smoking is prohibited within apartments (which has smoke alarms!), inside pubs, restaurants, public transport, and cabs i.e. virtually anywhere enclosed. However, one can smoke on the streets. In most café’s, smokers sit on the outside. There are lot of people – woman and man who smoke here.

Like most Governments these days even NZ does not encourage smokers. There are interesting hoardings placed inside bus stops which request people to quit smoking.

There are various organizations too, which help people who want to quit. These organisations are supported by the Government. When a smoker registers for free using Internet with any such organization, they send him a personalized letter congratulating him on his decision. Smokers are also sent some literature. These booklets concentrate on the positives of quitting rather than the negatives of smoking. There is a complete cost-benefit analysis provided in these booklets and each word is motivating. A smoker additionally gets a planner where he or she can write down the benefits one is deriving from quitting.

However, the most important thing to my mind is the subsidy. In the ‘quit-smoking pack’, a smoker is provided with two redeemable coupons along with those booklets. These coupons can be taken to any pharmacy to procure $160 worth of nicotine gums (i.e. a total of a 768 chewing gums manufactured by Novartis and made in Denmark, which aid in the quitting process) for a mere $10. The pharmacist gives a prescription which says price $ 160, Government subsidy is $150 and patient’s contribution is $10 i.e. around 93 % subsidy. The pharmacist also explains to the smoker how to use the gums and wishes him well while bidding good-bye. He keeps a record of the smoker’s name and address. Apparently, the Government may get in touch with the smoker (once he quits) to congratulate him. Some such ex-smokers also feature on national television narrating their experience.

Through this post, I am not attempting to dissuade anyone who smokes or wishes to smoke. I am just highlighting a Government’s concern and effort towards a public health issue. The Government’sn intent is to help a citizen, not to force him. It does so by partnering with the private sector.

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Responses

  1. Good to hear that such things happen. I am sure you live in a much more civilized part of the world. What other issues engage the government so actively? In particular, how concerned are people about over-exploitation of natural resources and climate change? In the US, I find a peculiar thing. There is so much talk about energy independence, about renewable energy and more fuel efficient cars, but no one ever talks about reducing unnecessary consumption.

    I will look forward to learning from you on this on your blog.


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