A Little-Known Risk of Smoking
It was recently reported in the Southern Daily Echo online news that ‘a Mum tried to smuggle nearly 35,000 cigarettes through Southampton docks’. It is said that she ‘tried to avoid paying almost £11,500 in tax by storing the tobacco in her luggage following a 13-night luxury Caribbean cruise.’
This lady reportedly had been travelling with her ex-partner, a plumber, with whom she had enjoyed the cruise. At least we can assume they enjoyed it until they returned to port. Well, that is neither here nor there, but this odd couple was convicted of attempting to defraud Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs. Very wicked. And quite rightly they were punished, though somewhat leniently – almost kindly – for this offence.
He was ‘handed a 12-month community order and told to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work’ and she was ‘ordered to pay court costs of £45 and an £85 victim surcharge.’
But what is interesting are the further facts and statements that emerged from the court hearing and subsequent probation reports.
The lady said that although they were on their way home on the cruise ship they had ‘experienced doubts’—whether moral or other we are not told—and considered throwing their loot into the sea. But on further reflection they decided to risk being apprehended – and mark this well – ‘so that her (the lady’s) ex-partner could carry on smoking and spend his pension on food instead of tobacco.’
Let us think about this. There was nothing to stop him spending his pension on food instead of tobacco if he was so minded, but because, it is implied, he had a greater need or felt it was his priority to spend his pension on cigarettes in preference to food, they were somehow driven to break the law. At least they didn’t harm the fish and sea birds who might have eaten the cigarettes if they had been thrown overboard. All that would have happened if they had got away with it is that the gentleman would have continued to poison himself by inhaling tobacco smoke and would have avoided starvation, at least till the cigs ran out, because apparently his priority is to smoke rather than eat. If he smoked twenty per day, 35,000 cigarettes would have lasted him nearly five years if he didn’t die of a smoking-related disease in the meantime.
The chairman of the probation service who considered the case noted that ‘there was a huge demand for good plumbers and urged [the miscreant] to get back into work and feel “self-worthy” again.’ The report also said, of the lady, that she wanted ‘to help her ex-partner with his smoking habit.’ Some help. And I wonder whether this smoker, no matter how good a plumber he might be, as a smoker ever feels self-worthy. Or if any smoker (synonym: nicotine addict) really ever feels self-worthy.
So now we have another harmful effect of smoking: the temptation to break the law.
How much nicer a holiday would this couple have had, quite apart from the little unpleasantness when they returned to dry land, if the good plumber had decided while breathing all the fresh air on his cruise, thenceforth to stop poisoning himself by inhaling tobacco fumes and had never bought the huge stash of cigarettes in the first place. And he wouldn’t have been at risk of starving himself to death.
Text © Gabriel Symonds