A statement from John Key

I want to make it absolutely clear that the National Party are not in any way under the influence of Big Tobacco.

There’s nothing sinister in the fact that a tobacco lobbyist for Philip Morris has won the National Party selection for the safe seat of Clutha Southland, and will be the electorate’s next MP.

It’s also entirely coincidental that a tobacco lobbyist for Philip Morris is seeking the National Party selection for Hutt South.

What’s the problem here? Aren’t these people entitled to stand for Parliament too? People are too quick to forget that tobacco is a legal product. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but people have a right to light up.

They say that smoking kills millions of people around the world every year, but I’m sure I could find an expert who would disagree. In fact, I’ll get young Todd onto it right now. He’s bound to know one.

It’s the hypocrisy of the anti-smoking lobby that gets to me. Even if it’s true that tobacco causes harm to our communities, name me one product that doesn’t. Nowadays even water can kill you. But is anyone talking about banning or restricting the supply of water? Why not? Tens of thousands of people die in drowning accidents around the world every year, but nobody’s demanding we put warning labels on bottled water.

Besides, the tobacco industry creates jobs for Kiwis, and if we banned cigarettes it would only hurt the pockets of decent hard-working folk. Just what do you think would happen to your local corner oncologist if we banned smoking?

This government is not in the business of telling people what to do. If a man chooses to celebrate his sexual potency by enjoying that smooth but invigorating Marlboro flavour, then who are we to stop him?

If a young woman would rather light up and for once in her life be popular with her peers, then surely it would be a crime to deny her that right. What if it turns that the hot guy she’s been trying to attract only goes out with smokers? Would we deny this young woman her chance at happiness?

Look, this isn’t about whether smoking is wrong or right. I’m not trying to say that these tobacco companies are heroes, upholders of our freedoms, fighters for what is good and just, striving valiantly to defeat those who would tell us what to do, how to live, and what we are allowed to think; champions of democracy and freedom; the only people standing in the way of a terrible totalitarian darkness that would last a thousand years.

No, that’s not what I’m saying. Actually, I forget now what I was trying to say.

Oh, yes, these tobacco lobbyists. I don’t see a problem. And the suggestion that we’re in the pocket of Big Tobacco is absurd. How many pockets do you think one political party can fit into? And don’t you think our paymasters at Oravida would have something to say if we jumped into bed with someone else?

Oravida… hey, that gives me an idea. Milk-flavoured cigarettes! Imagine if your pack-a-day habit could also supply all your calcium needs…

This is my best idea ever. Even better than my idea to turn New Zealand into a financial services hub, and that was a pretty good one.

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