CAN anyone give me any good reason for growing tobacco?
We've banned other health destroyers like DDT and asbestos, so when are we going to get serious about giving this other noxious substance the boot?
We go to war to control the growing of poppies that supply the cocaine trade, yet we continue to condone cultivation of a crop that kills millions of people around the world.
Third world countries suffer from tobacco smoking not only through consumption and bad health.
Land used for producing tobacco isn't available to grow food. At a time when the world's population is hungrier than ever, this is lunacy.
For the good of all, this smoking scourge needs to be eliminated.
And don't get the idea that I'm a righteous soul who's never felt the pleasure of a nicotine puff.
I've smoked since I was 14 years of age and think about quitting several times a day.
I do give up on occasions, but have never managed to stop the habit completely.
Like most of the smokers I know, I wish I'd never lit that first cigarette and gone on to waste thousands of dollars which could have been more productively spent.
Australia is on the right track, leading the world in displaying those gruesome images of cancerous wounds and asthmatic children on cigarette packets, and with the introduction of plain packaging.
If that's what it takes to stop kids from taking up smoking, then I'm all for it.
Those gory photos are also a turn-off for current smokers, according to the latest research, which has shown that plain packaging - introduced last December - discourages people from buying the demon weed.
The Irish are following Australia's lead by introducing plain packaging next year.
Some anti-smoking crusaders say this doesn't go far enough and are advocating a total ban on tobacco.
Strangely, the British Government hasn't made up its mind about the effectiveness of plain packaging.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the decision not to go ahead with plain packaging for cigarettes was taken "for the very simple reason that there is not yet sufficient evidence for it and there's considerable legal uncertainty about it".
Naturally, cigarette manufacturers opposed the move towards plain packaging - profits were at stake.
The only flimsy argument they could come up with was that "smokers' rights" were to be infringed.
Now that the price of fags in Australia is such that you practically need a bank loan to buy a pack and, as a consequence of this monetary deterrent, the smoking fraternity is dwindling, these companies have no doubt shifted their marketing focus to poorer countries where health regulations are non-existent.
Shouldn't we do all the world a favour by ditching the nasty habit? We and our passive participants will discover a new level of health and rid the globe of a significant source of pollution in the form of cigarette butts.
Smoking is the largest preventable cause of cancer death in Australia, and probably around the world.
No other common consumer product comes near tobacco in terms of death and disease in its long-term users.
Cigarette profiteer the Philip Morris company launched its "I deserve to be heard" campaign, urging smokers to exercise their rights and resist tactics to reduce smoking rates. This campaign is beneath contempt.
I've seen images of an eight-year-old Indonesian child smoking a cigarette ... and was revolted. Why would anyone want to encourage this harmful practice?
Cut out this poisonous business at its source by banning tobacco.
And by the way, I'm making a determined effort to quit...
Baby bonus a fortune to girls
PUTTING birth control implants in Aboriginal girls as young as 11 is disturbing enough.
But consider that two girls close to this age asked for these devices to be removed - so they could become pregnant and receive the Federal Government's baby bonus.
This extraordinary story was published in the Northern Territory News. A health worker had to tell the girls that they were too late - the baby bonus was being scrapped.
This contentious baby bonus funding for eligible mothers with newborns or adopted children under 16 will no longer apply from March 1 next year.
Under the bonus, stay-at-home mothers with incomes under $150,000 received $5000 on the birth of their first child and $3000 for each subsequent baby.
That would seem like a fortune for any disadvantaged 11-year-old. How sad that these girls wishing to procreate for profit can see a future only through pregnancy.
About 16 million girls under 18 years of age give birth each year, according to the UN Population Fund.
The fund marked World Population Day last month by spotlighting the issue of adolescent pregnancy.
UNFPA executive director Babatunde Osotimehin called on governments to take measures that enabled adolescent girls to make responsible life choices and to provide necessary educational and social support.
He added: "Every young girl, regardless of where she lives, or her economic circumstances, has the right to fulfil her human potential. Today, too many girls are denied that right. We can change that, and we must."