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How would an "acceptable standard of health" test affect smokers?


The BBC yesterday reported that Albert Buitenhuis, a South African chef, is "too fat" to be allowed to live in the country, even though he and his wife have lived there since 2007.

An immigration official said, "It is important that all migrants have an acceptable standard of health to minimise costs and demands on New Zealand's health services."

Buitenhuis is overweight, admittedly, but it begs the question, what is an "acceptable standard of health"?

If we assume this is an exceptional case - unprecedented, perhaps - it suggests that the health of everyone else working on a visa in New Zealand meets the "acceptable standard of health" test.

Now, if we further assume that a significant percentage of that group smoke (15 per cent, perhaps, at a conservative estimate), it means there are a lot of people living and working in New Zealand who smoke yet are considered to have an "acceptable standard of health". (All of them, in fact.)

Now let's imagine that the health test covers the entire population. In other words, anyone who fails to achieve an "acceptable standard of health" is asked to leave the country.

Undoubtedly there will be people living in New Zealand with chronic illnesses (some of which are possibly caused by smoking) but the number who are so incapacitated that they cannot live a reasonably 'normal' life and are therefore an unacceptable burden on the state is, I would suggest, very small.

The reality, I suspect, is this. Some smokers may not be in the best of health (who is?) but only one or two would fail an "acceptable standard of health" test to determine whether they could stay.

Hardly the modern orthodoxy, is it? After all, if you believe public health campaigners, millions of people will not only die prematurely from smoking, they will bankrupt the health service in the process, hence the need to force them to quit.

So the New Zealand authorities have done us a favour. They have highlighted the fact that while there may be some extreme cases of chronic illness (in this case obesity), the overwhelming majority of people, including smokers, would pass an "acceptable standard of health" test.

See: South African chef 'too fat' to live in New Zealand (BBC News)

Update: According to the Mail Online Mr Buitenhuis is 20 stones six pounds, five stones less than when he moved to New Zealand.

Overweight but not grossly obese. This story doesn't add up ..,

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Reader Comments (1)

Haven’t NZ shot themselves in the foot a bit here? This man, I understand, had put on a whole heap of weight because he had – of course – given up smoking. Shouldn’t the avowed anti-smoking New Zealand authorities be jumping up and down with joy at this news? Shouldn’t they be saying: “OK, so he weighs a bit more than he should. But he’s a blessed convert to the non-smoking cause! That makes him all right in our books!”??

Indeed, isn’t this whole story one which effectively discourages people in NZ (particularly immigrants) from giving up smoking, given that the vast majority of people who do so seem to pile on the pounds from day one and then fail to shift it? Or have the anti-smoking grandees in NZ now become so totally brainwashed by their own rhetoric that they now genuinely can’t see this, surely most glaringly obvious, side-effect of giving up tobacco?

Monday, July 29, 2013 at 1:31 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

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