Some stop-smoking services, particularly the National Health Service, seem to be centred on Gloucester but if, for example, you are looking for hypnotherapists in Cheltenham, you will have more success here, and I don’t know but although I am sure there are plenty of hypnotherapists in Gloucester most smokers will drive over to Cheltenham if there is a better choice of hypnotherapists there. I see that National Stop Smoking Centres is better represented there, with both acupuncturists and hypnotherapists in Cheltenham.
Smoking in the news
You have probably noticed the news that the Australian government has decided on a dramatic change to the laws on tobacco sales, in which tobacco companies will no longer be able to advertise their products on the packs themselves. I say dramatic, because apart from the effect on tobacco sales, which I shall come to in a moment, this must surely be the first law against a company labelling its own products, and that is a pretty big move. I don’t know if it is actually even legal; if it is, fair enough, but if not then I presume the government will have to make it legal (which is after all their prerogative), in which case what they are actually saying is that they can legislate against the sale of tobacco. Not where it is sold or advertised, or where it is smoked, but when you think about the significance of what they are doing you can see that what they are saying is companies can sell the product but they can’t actually say what the products is. (Interestingly, take a look at your pack of cigarettes. In all probability it doesn’t actually say what the pack contains – have you ever noticed that before?). Well, so much for the stuff I don’t know about, but what about the stuff I do, which means the impact on smokers? The stated aim is of course to reduce the attractiveness of cigarette packaging so that young people will not be induced to smoke. Is this likely to be effective. Not sure about that one. I’m not a psychologist, but I have a feeling that young people don’t start smoking because they like the look of cigarette packs. I’m guessing that in fact the impact on young people starting to smoke may well be minimal. I don’t know this – it’s just an educated guess. So am I negative about this new regulation? No, not at all. No, I don’t think it will do what the Australian government thinks or intends it will do, although I will be the first to congratulate them if it does, but I think the real effect will be both bigger and more profound than they might imagine. I suspect that this law sends a very strong message indeed, one that says that governments are determined to address tobacco and the destruction it causes, and that they are not afraid of the tobacco companies. I suspect that the effect of this move will be a greater public acceptance of tobacco as not a normal commercial product but a dangerous drug. And for that reason I believe the effect is likely to be really important in the fight against tobacco. Our own wimpy government, which IS afraid of the tobacco companies (as they are afraid of the banks, because they believe these companies underpin the UK economy, which is not true) will probably take a long time to catch up, but if nothing else our former colony is showing us the way forward.