Australia is still amazingly UK focused in many ways. When I wake up in the mornings I listen to ABC radio, the vaguely equivalent to BBC Radio 4, and besides getting Australian and global news, I also get the UK football results, something that I find completely bizarre. In complete contrast when I worked as a cook in Deepest Darkest Maine during my first summer as a student, we used to listen to the radio in the kitchen, where the line that always used to make me laugh out loud was “Here is the world news. Today in Portland, Maine.”
The run up to the UK elections is generating so much discussion here in the media that it is hard to summon up much more enthusiasm for things political. However I have to applaud the latest Australian move on cigarettes. With a fair degree of drama, the Australian Labour government announced this week an immediate 25 percent rise in the price of cigarettes and in what I regard as a stroke of fair genius heralded the fact that from January 2012, all cigarettes, and tobacco products in Australia will have to be sold in plain white packets. The only embellishment will be a grisly photo of some of the unpleasant effects of smoking along the lines of gangrenous toes, blackened lungs etc. The name of the maker will appear in small, generic type.
It’s hard to imagine anything remotely glamorous about being offered a cigarette from a small white box with hideous photos on it. I am aware I probably sound revoltingly prim/smug about this. I am incredibly fortunate that I never smoked as a teenager, apart from the odd Clinton type ‘inhale’. I thank my lucky stars, or should that be Lucky Strikes, that I never took the habit up, as given my low amount of will power with other habits, possibly injurious to my health such as chocolate, wine, and lying reading a book in the bath until my skin goes wrinkly, it would be a sure fire bet that once started on nicotine I would have found it almost impossible to give it up. So anything that helps stop teenagers getting started on smoking gets my vote—so please take note Messers Brown, Cameron and Clegg.