My tobacco plants remain small, but I’ve got plenty of them. Far too many for my own use. But I may have found new homes for the excess population. I got talking to a few smokers outside a pub, and they expressed considerable interest in growing their own. So I’m going to pot some up for them. All totally free of charge. I hate to see things go to waste.
As I put it to them, my plan is to add my own tobacco to stuff I buy, so I’ll be smoking a mixture of my own tobacco and Golden Virginia or Cutters Choice or Old Holborn. Then the bastards can put up the tax as much as they like, because I’ll be buying a lot less. And with luck there’ll be smuggled tobacco and foreign-bought tobacco as well.
Growing your own is really much like learning to cook instead of buying food in a restaurant or takeaway. You probably make a bit of a mess of it the first time, but after a while the pizzas and the bread and the cakes start coming out almost as good as the ones in the shops. Same with tobacco. After a while you’ll figure out how to cure it and flavour it. And with lots of people all learning at the same time, there should be plenty of advice to be found.
And then people will come round with gifts of homegrown tobacco. And the gifts will be answered with gifts in return. And with that little trading systems will come into existence, and people with large gardens will set aside an area for tobacco cultivation. Who’s to stop it? It could become a thriving cottage industry. And, unlike cannabis, the plants aren’t illegal. And even if they were to become illegal, well, that hasn’t stopped cannabis being grown in all sorts of places. Drug dealers will start probably start to include homegrown tobacco in their product range. You’ll be able to buy in blended with opium or cannabis. That should be fun.
If homegrown tobacco becomes a large scale cottage industry, then the government will be the main loser, as sales of industrially manufactured tobacco fall, and with them government tax revenues. And the hospitality industries will continue to suffer as people stay home to drink their ( possibly home-brewed) beer and smoke homegrown tobacco and speak home truth to one another. And rather than smoking prevalence falling, it’ll stay the same as it was, or rise. Because, in the absence of penal taxes, it will be a lot cheaper. And furthermore, all sorts of different things will start being smoked. I think it was Rose who mentioned smoking corn silk. There are quite a few herbs that can be smoked as well. Lauren Colby mentioned that he’d once smoked “cigars” that were more or less all paper, and they were a perfectly satisfying smoke. He reckoned that it wasn’t nicotine that people were after: it was smoke. And I think he was right.
So there’ll be people landing up in hospital after smoking oily rags, or shredded cellophane, or whatever.
So the net effect of the War on Tobacco will be a thriving black market, and a thriving homegrown tobacco industry, and a tobacco ‘counterculture’ just like the 60s counterculture, and a collapse in government tax revenues, and a continuing collapse of the hospitality industry (particularly if alcohol and food are subjected to a similar regime), and just as many people smoking as before, and large numbers of admissions to hospitals.
Everyone will just stay home. Quite a lot of us do already.
The government can only really tax and regulate legitimate businesses. Once things move to the black market, they can neither tax them nor regulate them. So the real effect of interfering governments will be to drive legitimate businesses out of the market, leaving just the black market. The attempt to regulate results in deregulation. And the attempt to reduce the prevalence of smoking will result in an increase in its prevalence. And the attempt to ‘de-normalise’ it will re-normalise it.
There’ll be additional costs as well. For a start, I’m never going to vote for any of these bastards again. And I suspect that plenty of other people won’t either.