If Mark Twain were to reincarnate …


What would be the country of his choice? New Zealand’s recent smoking ban raises questions

Upala Sen


Posted 12.12.21, 00:09 AM

If Samuel Langhorne Clemens had been born in New Zealand at some point, he might never have transformed Mark Twain. Last week, the country introduced a ban that will not allow anyone born after 2008 to buy cigarettes or tobacco products, which essentially means that not everyone under the age of 12 in New Zealand will be legally allowed to buy cigarettes. buy cigarettes. “We want to make sure young people never start smoking,” New Zealand Health Minister Ayesha Verall said. Twain began to smoke “without moderation” at the age of eight. In one of his essays he writes: “I started out with a hundred cigars a month, and by the age of twenty, I had increased my allowance to two hundred a month. Before I was thirty, I had increased it to three hundred a month.

Sin tax and more

To discourage smoking, New Zealand has imposed a series of sin tax hikes in recent times. Today a pack of cigarettes costs around $ 22.50 in New Zealand, or around Rs 1,700. The increase in price has made cigarettes difficult to buy and some cite this as the reason behind the reported incidence of tobacco-related theft. Things were different when Twain was a boy in mid-19th century America. In his autobiography, Twain writes of his homeland: “… down in Missouri, a regular cigar cost thirty cents a cent, but most people didn’t try to afford it, because smoking a pipe cost nothing in this tobacco-producing country. “

Tom yum

If New Zealand is on one end of the smoking spectrum, China is on the other end. Not quite early 19th century Missouri, but close enough. A pack of cigarettes costs $ 3.14 in China. This could convert to around Rs 230, but experts remind us of the “unprecedented income growth” in China and how it “outpaced the increase in cigarette prices“, making them very affordable. China also happens to be the world’s largest producer and consumer of tobacco – 44 percent of the world’s cigarettes are smoked in China. According to an article in The Lancet titled “Increasing Tobacco Sales as Part of China’s Anti-Tobacco Policy,” the country’s tobacco industry has boycotted warning images on packaging that are roughly the standard worldwide. And it looks like teens can buy cigarettes at any retailer or online without showing an ID card. Twain and other “penniless boys” his age purchased from a hunchbacked and melancholy merchant in the village. He writes: “… we could always stock up on cigars by fetching a bucket of water for him from the village pump, whether he needed water or not.” It’s safe to assume that if Twain’s spirit was still hovering for a new incarnation, he would know exactly which country to choose.


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