This has got to be the whackiest interview script I have ever read. Paul Holmes interviewing Hone Harawira about his goal to make criminals out of tobacco manufacturers;
PAUL What do you want to actually see Hone, do you want to see a ban, do you want to see prohibition?
HONE I'd like to see the production sale and manufacture of tobacco in Aotearoa banned yeah. I think that unlike alcohol and other drugs which people like, with cigarettes most people actually want to stop more than 80% of smokers want to stop, so it's not like there's going to be a black market...
"...You can't create a black market in a situation where people don’t really want the product."
If people "really don't want the product" why is there a substantial existing legal market?
PAUL So you'd ban cigarette sales, ban tobacco, production of tobacco, marketing tobacco, well that’s already banned, you'd ban the sales but people will still want their smokes, that’s what I'm saying, because you would now turn them into criminals.
HONE No no no no no.
PAUL Well we've had that....
HONE No no no no no no no, we have deliberately not targeted smokers because I know from having been a smoker that if you target smokers all you do is piss them off, so you go after the tobacco companies and most smokers actually support what it is that we're trying to do here, that’s number one, number two you have to arrange a regime whereby you can help people wean themselves off tobacco, but again going back to that fact again, that most New Zealanders who do smoke want to stop, it's not that hard to do.
Apparently it's not that hard to give up heroin either. Yet despite it being illegal there are still thousands of heroin addicts.
PAUL You see even Helen Clark thought that prohibition had its limits and might not work, she said the trouble with prohibition and banning and she is very stridently anti tobacco, she said it makes criminals of addicts. So the courts clog up because someone's been caught smoking a cigarette.
HONE No no no, no no no, the courts don’t clog up with smokers, because we're not banning smoking, we're banning the production, sale and manufacture of tobacco. The only people who would end up in court would be the tobacco companies, but if we pass the law they'd be gone tomorrow Paul, wouldn’t you be happy?
PAUL Probably so I suppose, but where would we get our smokes? From the gangs?
HONE No you wouldn’t get your smokes from the gangs.
PAUL Of course you would you'd drive it underground.
HONE No you wouldn’t get your smokes from the gangs, because the gangs find greater money in other drugs, cigarettes are not that kind of a product. You would maintain a measure of production for weaning off purposes, for all of those kinds of situations but again going back to the knowledge and the fact that most New Zealanders want to stop it's just enough to get them out of the game. Paul, 5,000 New Zealanders every single year die form cigarettes. If a country did that to us Paul, we'd declare war, a company's doing it to us and we're letting it happen. There's something wrong there.
PAUL At the same time though Hone a nicotine addict doesn’t rush out and bang an old lady on the head because he hasn’t got any smokes left. Why don’t you tackle crime?
HONE That’s great if a smoker's not going to go to knock and old lady on the head over cigarettes, well let's just ban it, it's not gonna lead to any crime.
PAUL No but what I'm saying is the nicotine addict is not a danger to society, look at the prison population announced this week, more people in prison, 50% of them Maori, Maori comprise 50% of the population, why don’t you take on ...
HONE If you want to get into this whole sort of gang thing Paul, in the history of the gangs say since 1970 there'd be less than 500 people have died as a result of that, in that same 30 year period, in that same 30 year period, listen to this Paul nearly 100,000 New Zealanders have died from tobacco. What's the big fuss about gangs, it's not gangs that’s killing New Zealanders it's tobacco.
Un-bloody-believable. There is no account taken of the difference between the kinds of violent, often young, deaths associated with gangs and prohibition and people dying from smoking related illnesses towards the end of their natural allotted time. Or that drugs that gangs manufacture and sell also kill.
The man is a lunatic. Fortunately someone sane was listening in and made a comment or two;
RICHARD PREBBLE – Former ACT Leader
...Look the thing that gets me is this, he gave up smoking, it's a matter of personal responsibility and he's trying to claim that other people can't, it would be far better if he actually said to people this is something you have to take personal responsibility for, it's not easy but I've done it, if I've done it you can do it, instead he wants the colonial state to ban cigarettes for him. I mean it's the most patronising statement I've seen from a politician in a long time, and there's plenty of competition for that position, but what he's doing won't work, and just because it's a good cause that doesn’t make it right.....In the valley that I'm in there's so much marijuana grown and smoked that you actually see people smoking it quite openly. Now the Police can't stop that, and yet here we are having an MP who apparently is so out of touch with his electorate doesn’t realise that marijuana is growing wild in the north and is now saying he's going to ban tobacco. Look if I was in organised crime and I heard Hone this morning, I'd be writing out a cheque for his campaign.
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