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Should 'License to Smoke' be Introduced?

Update Date: Nov 14, 2012 04:21 AM EST

According to Simon Chapman, a professor from Sydney, a "smoker's license" should be introduced in order to implement effective anti-smoking measures.

Imagine having to apply for a license just so that you can smoke. Sounds weird, right? However, Simon Chapman, a professor from the University of Sydney, thinks it would be a very good move to implement such a thing as "smoker's license", so that a "disincentive" class of smokers can be made.

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According to Chapman, to acquire this license, smokers would have to go through a test which would analyze their understanding of the risks of smoking and would also require them to swipe their license card each time they buy a cigarette, so that it restricts them to buying only up to, say, 50 cigarettes a day.

Chapman is of the opinion that this would be a good move to ensure good public health as well as effective anti-smoking measures. He also says that this concept could be of high interest to "high-income nations that are actively pursuing tobacco control goals."

According to a report published in the journal Nature in 2001, "one billion people this century are predicted to die from smoking-related diseases."

However, Chapman says that despite such an alarming prediction, very little has been done to curb the sale of tobacco.

"In contrast to the highly regulated way we allow access to life-saving and health-enhancing pharmaceuticals, this is how we regulate access to a product that kills half its long-term users," he wrote in the introduction to his paper. "There would seem to be a case for redressing this bizarre but historically based inconsistency."

According to Chapman, this license should be like a swipe card, and no retailers should be allowed to sell tobacco or tobacco-related substances to anyone without a card. Retails who fail to abide by the rule should be heavily penalized.

"Penalties for sales to unlicensed persons would be severe," he explained, "with the threat of the loss of a retail license, as is now the case for pharmacists supplying restricted drugs to anyone without a prescription."

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