Like Liberal leader Tony Abbott â€“ who has also proposed big new taxes on smokers â€“ we donâ€™t like smoking one bit. And we donâ€™t like passive smoking much either.
But if all these federal politicians think it is so damaging that it merits massive punitive new taxes on smokers then it really should take the next step and ban it completely.
But they wonâ€™t do that because it would look extreme and could provoke a huge voter backlash
So instead theyâ€™ll continue to disproportionately tax smokers, with todayâ€™s leak being just the most recent chapter in the bi-partisan history of smoker bashing coming out of the nationâ€™s capital.
Who are these victims of Canberraâ€™s wrath?
They are manual and factory workers, around 39.8% of them smoke. Only 13.3% of professionals smoke.
They are people whoâ€™ve left school early.
They are indigenous. 50% of indigenous Australians smoke.
They are poor. The lower your income the more likely you are to smoke.
They are more likely to be more rural and regional Australia than the big cities.
They are â€“ in many cases â€“ addicted. Nicotine is highly addictive.
And yes, they get sick, with tens of thousands of smokers going to hospital, usually many years after theyâ€™ve been puffing on. But not all of them, smoking is just one of many factors impacting health.
Based on that list, our guess is that many smokers are also Labor voters and many would have been in the Howardâ€™s battlers block that turned to Rudd in â€˜07 over Workchoices.
WHACKING YOUR OWN
So the federal Labor government â€“ apparently with Tony Abbott cheering them on â€“ propose to impose a tax that will impact on those least able to pay it. The proceeds will be spent on hospitals or some other worthy activity.
Weâ€™re probably far more enthusiastic for a user pays approach to many government services than most of the Canberra politicians and bureaucrats who plan to massively increase cigarette taxes.
But there is a profound logical disconnect here.
If smoking is so evil, so deadly, so damaging and so expensive to cure the illnesses caused by it, then ban it just as we have banned marijuana, cocaine and other deadly drugs of addiction.
But if weâ€™re not going to ban it for expedient reasons or because a ban cannot be sensibly justified then we must think very carefully before unleashing massive new tax increases on the most disadvantaged and excluded Australians.
A lot of nanny-state politics seems to go this way. Do what the state wants or weâ€™ll hurt you, seems to be the attitude.
In no other context would any government contemplate a regressive tax on the lowest-income earning Australians.
The government ought to think very carefully about what itâ€™s doing because after the smoke clears we think this measure will end up looking a lot like the alcopops tax.
Paved with good intentions, that plan was aimed at discouraging young women from drinking vodka cruisers. Of course most of the impact was felt by Aussie battlers who enjoyed a bundy and coke mix in a can.
Labor politician and Health minister Nicola Roxon had devised a way of hurting voters in seats like Holt and Calwell that ultimately has done nothing to impact on young peopleâ€™s drinking habits.
Taxing pokies to a disproportionate extent has the same effect.
It takes money from people least able to afford it and gives it to the rest of us to spend on warm-inner-glow government programmes.
Those old-style Labor politicians in three-piece suits, with pipes and hats (not Kim Carr heâ€™s still alive and kicking butt) must spin in their grave every time Roxon appears on-screen to preach at us about something or other.
Cigarettes will soar from $13.50 to $20 a packet over three years: this is not the way a government interested in the real welfare of working people and battlers should ever behave.
While Abbott might feel trapped into supporting the measure because of his previous streams of consciousness on the issue, heâ€™d do well to oppose it as a cruel, ineffective and nanny-state measure that attempts to plug government budget holes by slugging those least able to pay.