These days, I don’t smoke. I haven’t smoked for over 26 years, ever since I returned to these shores from overseas, where cigarettes were very, very cheap. To give you some idea of how cheap smokes were to buy would be to tell you that my brother bought some duty-free while flying down to visit us, and he bought some more where we lived, and they were still sixty % cheaper.
I, along with my wife, stopped smoking before we returned to England, mainly because we accepted that we just could not pay the extortionate taxes levied by the State upon tobacco consumption. We made a conscious decision, based purely on economic concerns. The fact that I relocated a heightened sense of smell, and of taste within three months was a bonus. The further fact that we came to realise that smoking was nothing else than a dirty, stinking habit which would possibly have sent us both into an early grave is beside the point; which is that we stopped because we made that choice not to smoke, not because of dire warnings, or peer pressure, or hugely-expensive advert campaigns. We stopped because it cost too much, for a couple with a family to raise, to continue smoking. That was 26 years ago, when 20 smokes cost £1.75.
Given the above, do readers believe that it is right for a bunch of students, mentored by not only their teachers but also an ‘award-winning Italian film director’ to charge down Chatham High Street pinching cigarettes from shoppers? Should the police have just ‘stood by’ or should they have arrested these foolish clowns on the spot? And what would have happened to any unsuspecting member of the public who had got physical with someone who is, after all a common thief?