Today I bumped into an old friend on my coffee run. I was heading to Gloria Jeans (where they don’t surcharge on public holidays) to feed my caffeine addiction, and he was heading to a convenience store to feed his nicotine addiction.

I sometimes think I nurture an expensive habit – how many newspaper subscriptions could my coffee money be funding? But today I forgave myself.

Today I was glad I didn’t need a daily packet of smokes like the poor guy that I, like an insensitive journo, proceeded to interrogate.

So you obviously didn’t stock up before the price hike? (He wished he did). Do you think the heavy tax will drive a black market? Do you think it’s unfair that smokers are targeted? What do you think about the plans for plain packaging? And so on…

I asked these questions to try and get a smoker’s view. Helpfully, he lit up in front of me.

Now, I don’t really have a strong for or against opinion on the whole thing, but I’m not too sympathetic to smokers and I don’t mind them funding the health system.

I actually agree with Abbot – it is a panic tax, but ‘it might have some useful health spin-offs’, as he says, and I’m not opposed to that.

My friend, let’s call him Mr S (for Smoker hehhee), pretty much held the same view. He’s an economics oriented guy, and to him, it made sense economically.

He is still buying his packet for the meantime because he can afford it.

“A lot of kids won’t be able to though; I guess that’s the point,” he said.

They’ll just have to go cold turkey – apparently the cost of patches won’t be much help.

So Mr S didn’t have a strong ideological stand on the issue – yes we are an easy target, but that’s just obvious, I’d say it’s more about revenue raising than sincere health concern, I don’t think it would help anyone to make smoking illegal, look at all the druggos, etc…

What I appreciated about his views as a smoker was that he was taking responsibility for his habit and therefore couldn’t blame anyone else for the inconvenience it caused.

It looks like I’ll have to talk to someone else to get ‘the other side’ though.

Oh, and I may have said I’m unsympathetic to smokers, but I do not vilify them. Mr S got some evil glares and fake coughs when he lit up, but I just thought – ‘Do you choke and splutter when you start your car up?’

It’s obvious that my personal views on this are mixed. I’ll admit maybe it’s because sometimes I have a ciggie when I feel like it. I also sometimes eat Hungry Jacks, and drink beer more than I should. But I’m really, really glad that I’m not addicted to smoking, fast food, or alcohol. I would be indifferent if there were a tax-hike on the latter two as well.

Someone once said to me “We all choose our addictions, unless you’re a crack-baby.”

So it’s coffee for me, and it would be different if that were hit. But I don’t see clinic waiting rooms filled with sad coffee-addicts…I see J-schoolers churning out articles on a caffeine-high (!!) …So, I’m off to make a cuppa.