Naughty Korner with QT columnist Andrew Korner
Naughty Korner with QT columnist Andrew Korner Rob Williams

Something doesn't add up in tax on cigarettes

IF $18 a packet isn't too much for smokers, then what is?

When the price cracks the $20 mark this year, will that be enough to eradicate smoking?

What about when it reaches $22 in 2014, or gets up around $25 the following year?

Does the government actually care if anyone stops smoking as a result of the incremental increase in the price of fags in the next three years?

You have to wonder because, on one hand, while the government assures us - as always - that the latest increase in the excise is primarily focused on weaning people off the smokes, on the other hand it tells us it is going to raise $5.3 billion in four years.

I was never very good at maths but I assume that if this policy of increasing the tax on cigarettes were to be effective, then revenue raised would not increase so dramatically. That's because fewer people would be buying the things.

It's hard to criticise anyone for trying to reduce the number of people who die as a result of smoking, especially when you consider that it kills about 15,000 Australians each year and takes up hundreds of thousands of hospital beds.

In saying that, smoking is not my number one pet hate, either.

I don't smoke but I don't mind if you smoke near me.

In fact, I might even try one of those expensive little cancer cylinders if you don't mind. I can see the likelihood of me being able to bum a smoke off a mate or work colleague becoming increasingly unlikely as a result of this excise increase so maybe it will at least prolong my life a little.

But hardened smokers are a stubborn lot. They will give up a fair bit so they don't have to give up the ciggies.

Hence the reason the government thinks it will be able to raise so many billions of dollars, I guess.

One point, though: I don't know if I agree with such a big, important chunk of this country's spending money coming from the coffers of coughers.

It's a bit like when they use gambling money to buy kids' sporting equipment. The end result is great but there's also a dark side.

At what point could you argue that Australia has become just as addicted to the money that comes from smokers as the smokers are addicted to the nicotine?


WHAT! Usman Khawaja walks after being given out during the first day of the third Ashes test between England and Australia at Old Trafford.
WHAT! Usman Khawaja walks after being given out during the first day of the third Ashes test between England and Australia at Old Trafford. ANDREW YATESAFP

Khawaja dismissal disgraceful

USMAN Khawaja deserves some kind of medal for the way he handled himself after that disgraceful third umpiring decision on Thursday.

We've seen a number of howlers already during this series - Trott, Agar - but this defied all logic.

A man can only be given out caught behind if he hits the ball. Michael Holding explains:

"I don't know what he was looking at. If he was looking at the same thing we were all seeing, I don't see how he can say it was inconclusive," Holding said on Sky Sports.

"The man did not hit the ball. It's as simple as that. If Dharmasena looks at it and thinks the ball hit the bat, then he's got to be blind."

Thanks, Mike, I couldn't have put it better myself.


Win 'at all costs' bad for league

IT'S getting harder to get passionate about league when you keep hearing stories about sports scientists and their performance-enhancing concoctions.

The tale of former Cronulla winger Isaac Gordon has served to further tarnish an honest game. Gordon suffered a blood-thinning disorder after being given a mix of substances in 2011.

The 26-year-old, who is suing Cronulla, was later told he could have died as a result of side effects. The prospect of players being killed as a result of all this "win at all costs" logic is as bad as it gets.